1st Place: Microsoft Windows 7
Was there really any doubt? Well there was, actually, but any fears quickly evaporated as Windows 7 came to fruition. It's difficult to understate the significance of this release, since anything less than complete success would have been disastrous for Microsoft.
What makes Windows 7 so great? Cynics would say not being Vista, but first and foremost the general snappiness of its performance is refreshing after the stodginess of Vista. More importantly, Windows 7 brings the UI improvements that Vista only vaguely toyed with. Features like Jump Lists, Aero Snap and the vastly improved taskbar all make using the OS a more pleasurable, streamlined experience, while the new Action Center makes monitoring the status of your PC far easier.
Other features we've also come to love is the libraries system, which allows you organise your documents in one place even if you have folders stored in different locations, as well as the now native support for GPU video acceleration and wider format support. When Microsoft sees fit to replace 7, we'll actually be sad to see it go!
2nd Place: Adobe Photoshop CS4
Adobe Photoshop can always be relied upon to provide quality on a regular basis, but CS4 was the most complete upgrade to the program since the original CS version back in 2003. Native 64-bit support and vastly improved performance were the main talking points, but the sheer number of improvements to the de facto image editing program secures its place in our awards.
Great as it may be, Photoshop CS4 is unnecessary for a significant proportion of the population and for a fraction for the price you can get the excellent Photoshop Elements 8 and Premier Elements 8. Neither new version is a giant leap forward compared to their predecessors, but they remain head and shoulders above the competition at this price and are thus worthy entrants as the second runner-up to the big prize.