It's that time of year. LEDs flash with holiday cheer, and pundits pontificate about what will happen in the coming months. So once again, it's time for me to offer my predictions for the new year.
1. Longhorn is no longer the answer (or even the question). There was too much Longhorn hype in the past year and not enough details. Look for Microsoft to retreat from the "It will be fixed/added in Longhorn" mantra and make more attempts to keep the focus on Windows XP.
2. PDAs will become passe. Disconnected ones, that is. Over time, the real action will be moving core PDA functionality, centered on personal information management, to other devices such as cell phones. This will cause major IT headaches, since few cell phones are controlled by IT these days.
3. More people will lose their jobs over their weblogs. It's happened already, and it will happen again. If you're posting about your job or employer without consent, you're taking a lot of risk with your future.
4. But more corporations will create official blogs. Corporations have seen the weblog light, and blogs will become common for business use. Unfortunately, far too many of these efforts will just be marketing fluff disguised as weblogs.
5. Security FUD will drive IT policy. With all the fear about people using iPods and flash memory devices to walk off with corporate data, IT will be forced to take more Draconian measures against users. Expect to see rigid policies about commingling personal and business technologies, and bans on USB flash disks and the like.
6. Wi-Fi will be ubiquitous, but not in the workplace. Wi-Fi is readily available in public places such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. IT shops, however, will slow deployments a bit over fears of security. End users will take matters into their own hands, so expect to see lots of ad hoc networks springing up.
7. VoIP will be a mainstream technology for business users. Voice over IP is perhaps the hottest technology in the telecommunications industry today. VoIP-based services will grow even more as a mainstream technology for business use. Expect a lot of competition for the trillions of minutes and billions of dollars' worth of voice calls that business users make each year.
8. Wireless VoIP will still be niche. The hype and press around voice over wireless LANs was significant in 2004. Expect more hype and some pilot programs, but not large growth for VoWLAN.
9. Linux will be adopted in greater numbers by IT, but desktop Linux will not. Linux is already a mainstream server solution for many IT shops. That success won't travel over to the desktop, however. Too much fragmentation, combined with a lack of critical desktop applications and increasing dependence on the Windows platform, will prevent desktop Linux adoption from increasing significantly.
10. Moore's Law will still be irrelevant. Just as in 2004, speed increases are nice, but they will remain hard to justify for most business users, for whom "fast" was "fast enough" around 1999. The most relevant market for fast PCs will be consumers who need all the speed they can get in their digital homes for entertainment.
- Michael Gartenberg is vice-president and research director for the Personal Technology & Access and Custom Research groups at Jupiter Research in New York.