Other stories with far more long-term importance have gotten much less ink.
One of the most important stories of 2006 was the continued growth of Web-based applications. This was the year that Google launched Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which is fully Web-based. Its likely that historians will look back with a gleam in their eye and point to this moment as the beginning of a new era in software history.
(Minor note: couldnt Google have come up with a snazzier name than Google Docs & Spreadsheets? If youre going to revolutionize an industry, it helps to have some marketing savvy.)
Web-based apps change everything. The over-arching importance of Vista or Leopard is greatly lessened when you can log on and work with an application that was designed (using industry standards) to be interoperable with a slew of other programs regardless of their core OS. As an added plus, these built-in standards allow you to work with Web-based apps using any browser, instead of having to use IE.
In the future, the hoopla surrounding the release of a new Windows OS will be replaced by a big collective yawn. A new OS? So what? Caring about operating systems is so 20th century.
The Rise and Fall Of Digg
The apparent gathering place for all tech news, Digg, is ending the year on a less than happy note.
Over the last couple years, Digg has become increasingly important in driving traffic to tech news stories, as more and more readers posted story links on the user-driven news aggregation site. Popular articles earn many diggs clicks of approval from readers sending still more traffic to those pages.
But Digg seems to be a victim of its own success. Marketers and scammers have caught on, and all manner of schemes have sprung up to artificially boost a storys popularity.
For example, the User/Submitter site purports to sell popularity on Digg in exchange for mere filthy lucre. (The site claim to pay .50 cents for every 3 stories you digg. Digg Users Make Easy Money, the site says.)
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As Digg itself concedes on its blog, its site has an issue with fraudulent postings and pay-for-digg popularity. Apparently Digg is working to remedy problems. But at the moment its not clear whos winning, legitimate readers or spammers. Digg, if its not careful, could be co-opted by marketers.
Novell: Operating Systems Make Strange Bedfellows
Whenever you can ink a deal that makes you the first Linux vendor to work in concert with Microsoft as Novell did in November you know youre scoring big time. Oh sure, the two partners had some tussles about the deal. You knew that putting Microsoft and Linux in the same room couldnt have been all sunshine and smiles.
Still, Novell, whose fortunes havent been all that great recently, earned points for aggressive business maneuvering. On Microsofts part, the alliance seemed to be a case of, If you cant beat em, join em. Or, more accurately, If you cant beat em, try and control em.
Speculation about the long-term result of the deal has run rampant since the announcement. Predictions range from the demise of all other Linux vendors to the end of Microsoft as we know it (if Redmond has acknowledged the devil of Linux, then the end must be nigh).
But whatever the outcome, the headline from the original announcement has to win the prize for 2006 Tech Headline of the Year. Certainly scads of readers had to blink their eyes when they first saw it: Microsoft and Linux, huh?
For your viewing pleasure, here it is one more time:
November 2, 2006: Microsoft Likes (Novell) Linux
Pretty amazing, isnt it?
Oracle Is a Big Bad Wolf
Heres what Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison proclaimed to the audience at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in October:
"If you are a Red Hat support customer, you can very easily switch from Red Hat support to Oracle support."
And with that, Ellison proved that companies with really deep pockets and really long client lists (like Oracle) can push around companies with not-as-deep pockets and not-as-long client lists (like Red Hat). Oracle, by announcing it would offer its own free clone of the Linux OS, along with low-cost support not to mention indemnification from intellectual property litigation positioned itself to take a big bite out of Red Hats business.
(But rumors of Red Hats demise are greatly exaggerated. The company just reported it added a whopping 12,000 customers in the recent quarter, with a revenue jump of 45%.)
In retrospect, Oracles announcement seems to go hand in hand with the Microsoft-Novell alliance. Taken as a pair, the two news items indicated that the biggest of the big dogs, and any last remaining hold-outs, are now acknowledging that Linux is a dominant force in enterprise software and they need to get on the train before it leaves the station.
IT Workers: Dont Worry, Be Happy
The year 2006 was a good one for tech professionals, with 2007 also expected to be healthy. As noted in this survey of IT salaries, pay levels across the industry are rising, if not at a leap-and-bounds rate.
Next page: Linux-Mac-Windows Cross Platform, Plus: Pricing vs. Technology