The Best Hardware, Software, and Cloud Services of the Year

These 2013 Technology of the Year Award winners stretch from devices and desktops to data centers and beyond

By Peter Wayner
Wed, January 09, 2013

InfoWorld — Around the office, the Technology of the Year package is known by the acronym TOY, and many of the winners this year are perfect examples of why someone's subconscious chose this title. For the serious technologist, most everything on this list is just asking to be unpacked and played with. It's just like that bumper sticker on a pickup truck reading "Home Depot is my toy store."

The list of winners was built over the year as we watched what we reviewed, then chose the items that we came back to play with again and again. They were the "best" products we saw, but remember that the notion of "best" is not computed on any absolute scale. Windows 8, for instance, required a zillion times more work to create than most of the items on this list, and we remain in awe of the Herculian effort it took to build it, even though we found too many reasons to be disappointed or unforgiving to include it. As President Kennedy once said, "Life is not fair."

[ Read about the winning hardware, software, development tools, and cloud services in our slideshow, "InfoWorld's 2013 Technology of the Year Award winners." | Cut straight to the key news for technology development and IT management with our once-a-day summary of the top tech news. Subscribe to the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. ]

There is no rule for what defined the list, but there were common themes. Each item was chosen for itself alone, but some patterns started appearing. The software world, like everything else of human origin, is subject to fads and obsessions.

One big theme is ease. The companies on the list didn't invent a flying car or a quantum computer. They took well-understood ideas and did the hard work to make them more fun to use. A number of the products are simpler to configure and, thus, more practical and efficient to deploy. They're sort of the enterprise equivalent of that kitchen toy that bakes bread with a push of a button.

Better living through cloud computing

The drive for ease and flexibility is a big part of the industry's obsession with the cloud, and we were not immune to it. The various cloud services are on the list because they made things simpler than filling out the requisition forms, buying your own machines, and even configuring the stacks. You push some buttons on a Web page and you have root.

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