Since I've always find important that everybody knows who are really the best instead of letting people use only what they know, I wanted to decorate the ones who led their category this year. Here are the winners.
Best Operating System
Red Hat Linux 6.2
I can't boast having tried several OSes this year, but it had to go to a Linux, and Red Hat 6.2 won the InfoWorld award for a 5th year in a row. I think I can trust InfoWorld, but I would have liked also working with Mandrake 7.2 and Slackware 7.0 which could have also been good candidates.
Rejects: Windows 2000 was sure not to get this honor for its 65 000 known bugs, Windows Millenium neither (lack of innovation and pushes even further the unfair practices of Microsoft), Corel Linux 1.1 neither for its lack of content, Red Hat Linux 7.0 and Debian 2.2 neither for the bad critics they both got on many concerns, and neither BeOS 5 which is excellent but not a significant improvement over 4.5 and which now installs from within Windows, which doesn't make it a 100% real OS neither a real alternative to Windows anymore.
Best Web browser
Still imperfect, Opera, already excellent in 1999, has improved a lot in 2000 and, most of all, finally became free since version 5.0 . It is small, fast, multi-windows, different but simple and efficient user interface, excellent downloads management, applies well to HTML & CSS (better than its 2 main competitors), etc... There are much less compatibility problems than in versions 3.x and when you find any bug whatsoever, the active Opera team is always ready to hear you and to answer by e-mail within 2 days.
Rejects: Netscape 6 just couldn't get this honor; although its user interface is the most original, most efficiently-conceived, simple and attractive on the market, it is hardly usable under a Pentium II 233 MHz with 64 MB RAM, if not a PII 400 MHz with 128 MB RAM. Very sad because it's not a bad product as is. Internet Explorer 5.5 does not worth any particular attention, mostly since its most boasted new feature is a print preview, something its competitors always had before! The Mozilla browser never wanted to run on my Windows 95B and anyway it is still considered as in development. I did not try KMeleon and Galeon, but according to their description, they both didn't look as complete as Opera.
PKZIP for Windows - Version 4.00
As far as I'm concerned, I never abandoned PKZip since it took the commands of the archiving market around 1990, but I have to admit that there have been, the last few years, some advantages for my enemy WinZip. Not anymore. With its version 4.0, PKZip really took back its absolute domination, even introducing some features totally unknown to WinZip: multiple, scalable compression levels (not only a low, medium and high), the support of a .ZIP archive divided into multiple volumes, a new superior-compression algorithm, and much more.
Rejects: WinZip 8.0 was a pretty unuseful upgrade, WinAce 2.0 didn't really impress me, in short, only WinIMP 1.2 could have also get this award for having switched from "shareware" to "freeware", but I still choosen PKZIP 4.0 for having been able to innovate in archiving using the most standard format instead of using another relatively new archiving format.
Free Internet access free of ad bar! Only a small popup window popping about 3 times an hour... Very sad it's been sold to NetZero... Napster 2.0 beta 6 was also in the race even if the improvements over the first betas of 2.0, released in 99, are not very important, ICQ Rescue 2000 has also been pretty useful for me this year, CuteFTP 4.2 also impressed me with, finally, a few exclusive features over its many competitors, and finally the Web page editors 1st Page 2000, Allaire HomeSite 4.5 and Dreamweaver 3.0 have all shown to be excellent tools.
All the way. I still use as much if not more AltaVista, but I have no choice to admit that Google is now simply the best, and by far. It is now the search engine with the most indexed Web pages, the fastest in query processing, the fastest-loading thanks to a very simple layout and no ads, and has become very relevant in its search results ranking system, at least more than AltaVista, Yahoo! (directory), Lycos, Northern Light, etc... If they could just implement the search by exact phrases (typically with the words enclosed in " "), it would be an almost ideal search engine.
Rejects: AltaVista is definitely to reject; not only it didn't improve in 2000, it got worse! The search results ranking system has been redone and became unfair and less relevant, the broken links mutiply for the simple and good reason that, unlike most of the other major search engines, the AltaVista spider doesn't automatically revisit its index on a periodic basis (AltaVista trust that people will submit the broken links they find) and the average indexating time, once of about 2 days, is now, I'd say, between something like 6 and 13 days, aiming at encouraging people to use the fee-based express services. Yahoo! was already completely out of date in 1999 and is as much now, that without considering that a commercial "Business to Business" Web site cannot be submitted for free anymore. Lycos definitely has big problems of variety, sometimes showing up in the top of the search results 10 consecutive pages from a same Web site. The other ones, I don't have much to say about them, neither good or bad!
Storage media technology
A calm year on that perspective, I'd say, the popular formats (74-minutes CD-ROM, 80-minutes CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, the 200-MB ZIP cartridges, traditional 1.44-MB diskettes, etc...) being nothing new. At least, the LTO Ultrium tape format should steal a good part of the enterprise-backup market in 2001, offering 200 MB (assuming the 2:1 standard compression ratio) per tape at relatively lost cost (for an enterprise, not for the most common of us who only wants to backup its own personal PC). The best runner-up would probably be an other tape backup format, the Ecrix VXA, which does not have a great capacity but on the other hand has an unbelievable robustness. This format was conceived to be able to resist to anything: extreme cold or heat, violent impacts, liquid spills, etc...
Microsoft Links 2001
I only played a very, very few PC games released in 2000. If there wasn't the new Links, I wouldn't have give an award in this category. However, I can't be wrong of giving the honors to this game, it is of a PERFECT realism and allows to edit the golf courses with very high precision. Just too much spectacular for anything we've seen to date.
This is it for this year. I will try to find some new categories for
next year, but in the meanwhile, you got to get Opera 5.01 and PKZIP for
Windows Version 4.00 and let Yahoo! fade away, use Google instead.
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