Networking

Sanity check: Eight trends that will rock technology in 2008

The dependence of business on technology will continue its acceleration in 2008, but not all of the trends are happy ones. Learn which tech trends to keep an eye on during 2008 and how they will impact business and IT -- for better and for worse.

The dependence of business on technology will continue its acceleration in 2008, but not all of the trends are happy ones. Learn which tech trends to keep an eye on during 2008 and how they will impact business and IT -- for better and for worse.

8. Demand will grow for alternative form factor computers

In 2008, laptop computers will surpass desktops in total units sold for the first time, according to research firm IDC (laptops already passed desktops in retail sales back in 2005). IDC also estimates that laptops could represent two-thirds of all units sold by 2011. With businesses and users needing more portable computers, look for demand to grow for alternative form factor computers with even greater mobility.

This includes ultraportable notebooks, ultra mobile PCs (UMPCs), mobile Internet devices (MIDs, a new category touted by Intel), and even high-end smartphones with larger screens. These devices will become critical not just for a highly mobile professionals, but also industries where many workers don't sit at desks, such as health care, industrial, transportation, etc. However, these devices won't truly become mainstream until the mobile Internet hits critical mass.

Business users try out mobile Internet devices (MIDs) at the Intel booth at CES 2008 in Las Vegas.

7. WAN caching will save bandwidth and speed up remote users

Among the largest expenses in the IT budget are WAN and Internet bandwidth charges. It doesn't help that most IT departments use their bandwidth very inefficiently by repeatedly sending the same files back and forth across the WAN. The good news is that several new WAN caching technologies from companies such as Riverbed, Packeteer, and Ipanema are changing the game (and Cisco and Juniper are trying to get into the game, too).

WAN caching can dramatically improve application performance and speed up file transfer for branch offices and remote workers. It does this by caching files and transferring only the changes, which also results in a significant reduction in bandwidth usage. For more on WAN caching, see Maximize application performance for remote offices and mobile workers.

6. Businesses will continue to avoid Windows Vista

Windows Vista will almost certainly sell more licenses in 2008 than it did in 2007, but that doesn't mean that businesses will deploy it in large numbers. Since a Vista upgrade offers no major value proposition over Windows XP SP2, it's difficult to see businesses ever widely adopting it under any current scenario. Plus, there have been rumblings that Microsoft might release Windows 7 (the successor to Vista) in 2009, which could indicate that Microsoft is on the verge of simply writing off Vista and attempting to move the majority of Windows users directly from XP to Windows 7.

5. Unified communications will unlock the business value of VoIP

While lots of companies have deployed VoIP in recent years, the true business value and productivity benefits of those systems won't be fully unlocked until unified communications is deployed on top of VoIP. UC uses software as the glue that allows workers to connect multiple messaging and productivity systems, including e-mail, phone, instant messaging, calendaring, phone conferencing, and video conferencing. Combining all of these functions with integrated presence information can then open the door to more efficient communication between workers and help tame the chaos that is currently causing workers to have to manage up to five different systems to get their messages.

4. Green IT will gain legal momentum to target data centers

IBM and Hewlett-Packard are both in the midst of massive data center consolidation projects. While both of them want to simplify their IT operations, the primary motivator appears to be reducing energy costs. IBM said that its consolidation will save $250 million in energy, reduce floor space for its servers by 85%, and save enough energy to power a small town, as I reported in Blue Blue goes green last July.

While IBM and HP are taking these actions voluntarily, it's not going to take long for governments to look at these types of efforts and start to think about mandating energy controls for data centers as part of requiring businesses to get their energy consumption under control. Since data centers account for roughly a quarter of all global carbon dioxide emissions produced by technology (and is increasing rapidly), it has already become a key target for energy savings -- and responsibility for this will fall directly into the lap of IT departments. For more, read Squeezing green from the data center.

3. Mobile Internet will change the way people work

The next stage of the Internet is the widespread mobilization of broadband access. Once that happens, it will have a profound impact on many industries, businesses, and workers. It will change data consumption habits, business processes, communications infrastructures, and much more. We will begin to see more isolated pockets of these types of changes later this spring in the United States, with Sprint's rollout of mobile WiMAX in the Chicago and Washington D.C. areas.

Mobile WiMAX will spread to many other U.S. and international cities over the next 24-36 months on its journey to critical mass, and then it will be confronted by competition from LTE and other mobile broadband technologies. However, in the United States, the next stage of the Internet begins in 2008. If you want to see the future in action today, go to Seoul, South Korea, where an alternative form of mobile WiMAX called WiBro has already been deployed.

Intel, Clearwire, and Motorola combined on this demonstration of Mobile WiMAX at CES 2008.

2. Utility computing will start a new wave of IT outsourcing

Repeat after me, "Off-shoring is not the same outsourcing." Off-shoring is one form of outsourcing, and it's not the form of outsourcing I'm talking about here, so keep that in mind. Now, utility computing involves using virtualization to build a data center with a new level of flexibility, scalability, and manageability. Utility computing could allow a company to deploy an entirely new data center within 24 hours. It would allow IT to scale up and scale down server resources on the fly.

For example, you might scale up the number of domain login servers during business hours (when logins are heaviest) and then scale them down at night and scale up data synchronization servers to run during non-business hours. This type of utility computing will turn IT infrastructure and operations into a commodity and will drive costs down as companies outsource their data centers to utility computing vendors. This will run the gamut from full service outsourcing to simple colo arrangements. If you want a sneak peak at what this could look like, check out 3Tera.

1. Enterprise IT budgets will shrink in the U.S.

This will be a year of survival for IT departments at U.S. companies. For organizations that have their businesses focused on the U.S. market, 2008 will be a challenging year because of high energy costs, a tight credit market, and the weakness of the U.S. dollar. Many of them will likely be looking to cut costs. IT departments will need to clearly articulate their value to preserve their headcounts and budgets.

On the other hand, companies with a large international presence that can take advantage of the rapid infrastructure build-out in emerging markets, could actually grow in 2008. For evidence of that, look at the strong earnings results and 2008 expectations from IBM and GE.

What other trends do you think should be on this list? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

77 comments
Bruno.Simoes
Bruno.Simoes

Great article. I have no doubt that online collaboration will the way we think. This is already a technology giant duel. -- My Website | My e-News Blog | My Silly Blog

borisp
borisp

"IT departments will need to clearly articulate their value to preserve their headcounts and budgets." A major obstacle to this is that IT people don't speak the same language as the average senior executive. Bringing them a spreadsheet of costs for hardware, apps, hosting, etc. is not going to communicate the value IT provides to its internal customer because they don't relate immediately to the services they receive from IT. The key word in that last sentence is "services." Executives and your average internal user understand words like "email" and "laptop", and even better - "new hire bundle." When you are able to map all of the component IT functions to the business services they support, and communicate your value in terms they understand, you have a better chance of getting your point across. How do you do this? An IT Service Catalog. The missing link in this chain is how to determine the cost per business service. In order to do this, you need to take the traditional accounting system, in most cases the GL, and map costs from the original IT line items to the technical service components and ultimately the business service in the Service Catalog. This sounds tough but it's been done before, and there is actually some software readily available to help organizations through this - check out http://www.lontra.com for ideas, and my blog "Secrets of Successful CIOs" at http://blog.lontra.com for additional info.

hammc
hammc

I am very curious if WiMax will ever take off. My question is, "Where has WiMax been the last 3-4 years it was promised to consumers?" The infrastructure cost for any multi node wireless system is expensive. The biggest issue is most of middle America can't afford any mobile data plans right now. There needs to be some better efforts on the part of FCC regulators before any real progress can be made. Selling spectrum for billion$ of dollar$ is too high a priority. It is kinda sad when the only thing the FCC can trust us with is narrow JUNK spectrum.

Benevolence
Benevolence

Do you really not have widespread mobile broadband in the US yet? I live in Australia, and have been enjoying it for a while now... I can connect wherever I am, and the speed is quite decent. I must have missed something, I am sure.

gselvin
gselvin

I love this article!

don.gulledge
don.gulledge

One more trend that I think is coming is; Data dislocation using what I call Business Oriented Objects Data Sets or ???BOO??? for short that will involve isolating root data like names and personal info with master list and list caretakers that have ID pointers that are issued out to subordinate users through a PKI link. Then an app doesn???t duplicate any data, only a pointer into a master file that is only as good as the PKI access. The PKI connect maintains the level of access and security over the data. PKI would be a trusted system. A support library added-in turns the pointer into the data on the fly and the real data is only alive in the subordinate system while it is being printed or listed for browsing or such. If someone breaks into the system, there???s nothing there in data that is usable since all the relevant and usable information is maintained in the pointers. 1. Cuts down on overall storage requirements tremendously. 2. secures data like never before. 3. brings a coherence to the data structures through the object oriented nature of it where the business object has properties and methods where the methods are the subordinate system. The only real security that we can have is to trick the trickster and this is the way to do it.

senju
senju

I think the biggest IT change for my company this year will be VMWare. Our IT servers are going to this plateform.

A_dangerous_mind
A_dangerous_mind

Don't you mean 'run the gamut'? Although sometimes outsourcing is kind of like a gambit . . .

jkellick
jkellick

Trend #1 might be affected inversly by the proposed economic stimulus package (propsed jointly by congress and President Bush) which will encourage captial expendiatures.

jeffjohnson
jeffjohnson

Interesting that you mention IBM and HP in the same breath as "going green," and not Dell. Dell already reduced its number of data centers from 30 to two, saving billions (yes thats with a B) in energy costs. More importantly though, Dell started its green manufacturing efforts in 2004 (before it was trendy), has an initiative to be the greenest technology on the planet (www.dell.com/earth), is the first company to eliminate lead from manufacturing, has strict chemical use policies, and is working toward a zero carobon footprint. Add to this the most extensive line of energy efficient laptops, desktops and servers, "Plant a tree for me" and "Plant a forest for me" programs" (http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/corp/environment/en/tree?c=us&l=en&s=corp), and the only company that offers FREE RECYCLING of old computer equipment. I'd say you missed mentioning a company that is way out ahead of others when it comes to going green.

myra_mccain
myra_mccain

Utility computing will be another way and means for companies to address their disaster recovery programs. It will be an opp to save on costs for testing and infrastructure.

TJ111
TJ111

I think with the boom several Open Source businesses have seen in the past few years, more companies will re-organize and attempt to go entirely open source (if MySQL is worth $1 bil, it's obvious open source has value). With the rise of Cheap Linux PC's being available, Dell shipping with Ubuntu, people will start to realize Windows/OsX aren't the only op sys's available. Once OpenOffice 3.0 launches later this year, perhaps it will rival alot of MsOffices advanced features, and business will see entirely linux based systems as a viable alternative instead of being forced into a Vista upgrade.

tedpk
tedpk

Time to dispense with the silliness of: Green Energy Fakery such as: anti-coal {aka Greenhouse Gas Emissions); solar and wind; stop burning our food {ethanol from corn} -- do a serious reality check and -- start to rebuild our own energy infrastructure starting with our ace in the hole -- Nuclear Power and also get back to drilling for oil and gas in our own hemisphere {e.g. Gulf of Mexico, Anwar, possibly East Coast Continental Shelf}

franharry2
franharry2

In terms of Green IT, I also see new software out there that will help in eliminating paper and toner waste while printing. I think many companies are going to embrace such products and it is about time by the way!

remizius
remizius

what you think about OpenSource Computing in 2008?

rjalbert
rjalbert

What are simple colo arrangements? Thanks - Ruth

kingofthedelta
kingofthedelta

Great article, has sent me of finto new directions looking at our IT future. Will be interested to see the other considerations that other members come up with.

michael_orton
michael_orton

Cyber crime with soar, also cyber terror, especially if and when the US bombs Iran's nuclear sites. IT security costs will rise and small firms and home users will suffer the most.

mayowa.owolabi
mayowa.owolabi

it's going to be hard to shift from xp voluntarily but with most laptop and pc manufacturers now shipping their products,we'd be forced to change and bow to Mr.Gates or better still partner Mr.Jobs.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

sort of. It's not fast and it's provided by the mobile phone providers, so you need a [u]second[/u] telephone number in addition to your regular mobile number. And it's not cheap: US $70/month or more for access in addition to existing mobile costs. Just one more shining example of the results of competition for competition's sake.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I know it's been a huge shift in how I work with my own machines and every IT department I hear tell of is looking at it if not already using it.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

My copyeditor is off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. ;-) It's fixed now. Thanks.

mediavant
mediavant

My non-expert view of economics First the dollar woes could be a boon to exporting companies. So that's potentially a force driving more IT spending for those companies. If declining employment results from the slowdown, then expect capital expenses to drop too. When managers see people being led to the exits, they become very conservative with money. The stimulus package will probably make the dollar weaker (as it makes govt fiscal policy seem less responsible), so that will help boost the improved exports trend. But lower taxes for businesses will not in my opinion translate into keeping employees or buying capital. The only stimulus package that would encourage capital expenditures would be a business development incentive package that actually pushed money toward perhaps a target industry like sustainable energy. I don't think Washington DC is well enough prepared to go for such a plan now.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

it won't turn the ship around. It won't change energy prices or the weak dollar, and it probably won't have a huge effect on the credit crunch.

lindsay.ziegler
lindsay.ziegler

We've seen Dell's promise of free recycling of old equipment in action. Or in inaction, if you will. Turns out, it wasn't as free as we were led to believe - first of all, they refused to accept old non-Dell equipment that we were replacing with Dells; and then they wanted us to pay to ship our old Dell equipment in. Since the equipment we were replacing weighed in the tons, it was much less expensive to pay a local electronics recycler. A good idea, just lacking in execution.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

IBM is using Linux on big frames and then virtualizing other OSes on top of it. I'm also seeing some nice Linux-based MID devices with some cool iPhone-like interfaces. As for standard desktops and laptops, it's tough to see Linux making much progress there. It's still doesn't have enough applications and the standards aren't strong enough between the various distros.

Daniel.Muzrall
Daniel.Muzrall

As a nation, we should be embarrassed by our nation utility infrastructure. Large segments of our electric utilities date from the 30s to the 50s...with much more of it over 25 years old. With our ever-increasing reliance on electricity to make it through the day, we need to have an efficient, modern distribution network. Same goes for all our other utilities as well!

Daniel.Muzrall
Daniel.Muzrall

Peronsally, I am big proponent of FOSS. I've got two machines at home: one running XP, the other running Ubuntu 7.10. If I can find FOSS to meet my needs on either platform, I'd rather go FOSS, and hopfully be able to contribute something back to that community down the road. Professionally, I tend to compare software (commercial vs. FOSS) from a best-value perspective. Obviously we've all got company standards and guidelines to adhere to, but when FOSS meets the needs, has excellent support, and has an active community, I am more than willing to make a business case for it. However, if there's a commercial package available that meets the needs and has excellent support, and is a "better" option than FOSS, I'm going to go for the commecial package. Just because something is free/Open Source, doesn't mean it's the best choice...or even the most cost-effective choice. Always go for the best value...not the best up-front price.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

It means you "own" the servers, but they are located in a big datacenter owned by a third party vendor. Your admins can babysit the servers during the day and the vendor can watch them at night. Plus, the vendor obviously takes care of rack space, cooling, and power, and is there to consult on server issues and projects when needed.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Warning; Barely Related Rant Ahead: Why must everyone preface it with "cyber" to make it sound cool? Crime is Crime regardless of what medium or tool is used. Terrorism is Terrorism regardless of what targets and weapons are used. I just don't get why we have to treat either as something special. In the case of computer crime; the laws already exist yet suddenly we need to rewrite them all to be "cyber-something". Identity theft is still theft and fraud. Social engineering is still wire fraud (if by telephone or network). Cracking is still breaking an entering and unlawful use of a computer and/or network. It's all there already but it just doesn't sound cool and hip unless it's a cyber-something perpetrated by the boogieman word of the week. Bah! "Crime" will continue to grow regardless of what medium or tools are used and it will continue to be fuelled primarily by the general public's lack of knowledge or will to care until it affects them individually. In the future some new medium will be invented and even then; it will still simply be ?Crime?. As for Terrorism; it's nothing new. It's still a violent act meant purely to harm others for whatever ideology it's meant to promote. Heck, with the CIA, NSA, (other unknown letters), the good 'ole boys in white hats, street and organized crime; maybe they want to focus on the wealth of terrorists living comfortably and happily inside US borders. (I know, I know.. the middle east will suddenly be outside policy moment the US finds an energy source better than oil and the domestic terrorists pay taxes) But they are special; they?re a ?cyber-criminal? or ?cyber-terrorist?. No, they are just your everyday criminal and ideology fueled nut-job like any other who happens to harm people without the use of the day?s hip technology. They can start calling it a Cyber-Something when medical science interfaces it with my neural system. Until my backordered Cybereye arrives, it?s all just the same-old same. End Rant

Xerxes612
Xerxes612

My BS radar just went off. No one over here in the US wants that to happen anyway. The only REAL reason we went in to Iraq in the first place was cause we, as a whole country, were pissed off about 9/11. That anger has subsided and we want peace again - trust me - that will not happen. Plus, cyberterrorism is coming from E. Eurpor and the Russians. This is not a middle east thing.

la mere
la mere

After spending twelve hours and counting trying to install a Vista Upgrade the way I want to install it, I am really ready to switch to Mac. I can pretty much guarantee that my employer won't switch to Vista. They have crippled the tech user, and are forcing us to do it their way - how often is their way the best way? If they have frustrated me, just imagine how they are hurting the typical users. Don't even get me started on Office 2007 and the .docx format. I used to be a Windows fan - and I will deny this if you tell my brother - but I am darned near ready to switch to Mac!

martinfam
martinfam

Who would have thought Walmart might (I repeat, might), have a role in changing the IT landscape. Is it possible that gOS may end up in a lot of homes that just don't understand the world doesn't HAVE to revolve around Windows. Perhaps the EePC might also have some impact in the soft target market. To paraphrase, "Give me your child until he is 9 and he will be mine for life". Perhaps Linux will break from being a 'geek thing' to being just a an operating system like Windows and OSX are meant to be. A child doesn't understand all the 'thisOS versus thatOS' - they just want to get on with things and their parents want them to do it at the lowest possible cost. Anyway, more so this year than last year and before that, at least more people will have some idea of how to spell Linux.

a.haskell
a.haskell

All the laptops our company buys (we're talking thousands of laptops in the company) have Vista Licenses but they have XP loaded. Just b/c the original license is for Vista does not mean big companies will not continue to load XP "until they can certify Vista."

tim uk
tim uk

Don't forget that option. VMWare is not suited to all applications (though the salesman might not have mentioned that)...

hlhowell
hlhowell

Linux already runs Firefox, which is also used on many Windows computers as well. Java runs, Open Office offers spreadsheets, project management, Word processor, and presentation software. Blender gives you 3d capabilities that is compatible with Windows (and Blender runs on Windows as well.) Second life runs on Linux and Windows. Most mew games are being developed for Web use, so Linux is not a barrier, since they use some form of VM with generally an interpreted language. And currently there are hundreds of free games on Linux. Guncash will import and run the same checkbook as Quicken, I virtually never run windows now. And I don't miss it. The only time I have run windows lately is to get access to some websites that check which OS you are running. These same websites put the W3C in their header, but don't realize that they are breaking W3C by checking the OS, and refusing the connection. The web should be OS neutral, but some fanatics refuse to realize that. Regards, Les H

alaniane
alaniane

be frustrating to those who try to customize them; however, most computer users are probably just going to accept the defaults. I doubt that most of them will even notice a difference. What they will notice is if their favorite programs don't work.

funky_shit_05
funky_shit_05

You can make it save in the old .doc format, and even download a classic interface if you don't like The Ribbon.

Tig2
Tig2

Off Highway 100 at 36th/Excelsior. They carry both PC and Mac. Actually, they carry everything tech under the sun! Anyway, if you really think that you might want to Mac, that is a great place to make that choice. You can play with a Mac and then go down the hall and play with Vista pcs. But that way you have really done the side by side comparison and really know if the Mac is the right tool for you. Stay warm!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's actually a very nice setup. Where possible, they basically rent shelve space (for lack of a better explination). The vendors then come in, stock the shelves and manage the inventory. With RFID, Walmart will know when a unit leaves a shelf and when it passes out the point of sale (or skips that step in the case of the big security gaurds). Daily stock levels are automatically maintained and orders with the vendor are places as frequently as needed. They have a huge information systems base that many other retailers wish the could put in place. Currently, Walmart seems to be the model for mega-retail outfits.

support
support

Most folks who buy their computers from Wal-Mart, just want a computer that works well and that they don't have to do a lot with. Linux still doesn't have a lot of home oriented applications and few if any games that work with it. What apps there are for Linux, are hard to come by for the non-PC professional. With Apple and Microsoft large and in the face of the public, it isn't likely unless some massive publicity campaign is launched and some mind-blowing games are published for Linux based machine, that it even has a chance. Let's be real, even though most folks buying PC's at Wal-Mart won't admit it, a large portion plan on playing games on them (not talking about hard core gamers of course!) If those great games advertised in magazines and TV, aren't Linux compatible, well you do the math... I don't think even one mind-blowing game will do it either, it will take a minimum of 6 with jaw-dropping graphics and perfect game flow and story-line. Then you will need the drivers for those high-end graphics cards and sound cards to go along with those games! Linux has some very huge hurdles to clear, that I don't think even Wal-Mart can boost them over!

grantbav
grantbav

I've posted about this issue before and Jason was the one who started that trend going also. My employer Whyalla Computer Centre here in rural South Australia became an Apple Reseller in April last year due to the uncertainty that surrounded Vista. It has almost been a year and we've sold bucket loads of Macs in a town of just 20,000 people. We bundle all our machines with XP and Parallels so our clients get a computer that as we describe it "runs 100% of desktop software". A neat trick no other platform can offer at present. Well not legally. The adoption rate is just stellar, people buy them, take the kit home or to work as a workstation and use the Mac for web and mail and Windows for their proprietary software. For big deployments we charge to set a Mac based system up with Windows in a virtualizer, we jokingly say we put Windows where it belongs, in shackles. We usually use a Windows box as a server and we make a special template virtual machine container file which we pre-configure and then sysprep and store on the server for rapid client redeployment. We sell either Office for Mac or Windows depending on their integration needs. Client don't like Office for Windows because of the ribbon. They do like office for Mac because you can configure it to look like it's predecessor, which is also the way 2003 and XP felt. Everything just seems to go once we've set it up. The selection of very good and ever growing and improving freeware and open source not to mention inexpensive little "wow that's so useful" applications and tools just greases the wheels and further blurs the distinction between Mac and PC. Take MacFUSE and NTFS-3G for example. Our kits include a Mac, a copy of Parallels, a copy of Windows, a copy of Teach Yourself Leopard visually and our time to set it all up and provide it in ready to use condition to our client, who then invariably buy an external hard drive for Time Machine. this is turn then saves us having to worry about their backup plans at least as far as desktops are concerned. If client's have an existing PC that is in good shape we migrate their existing Windows deployment (complete) to the Mac as well, so nothing within the confines of that Windows installation appears to haver changed. We also setup a clean one and show then how to drag and drop their data between the two instances so they can slowly, over time build a more viable clean Windows setup that delivers best performance, without cutting off productivity right away. We show the clients how Spaces works and pin Parallels / Windows to a space in full screen mode thereby allowing the client to use what appears to be a Windows PC and a Mac on the same hardware. This usually impressed no end and sets the tone for the new workflow that clients adopt. I predict this growth will occur on a wider global basis because there are very few issues with the strategy and Apple may surpass the 10% mark of worldwide market share before the close of 2008. So far in just our little pond Mac adoption is growing far faster than general PC hardware is as a whole and with no real downer on the strategy because of the improved cost saving in terms of management and software reworking I very much doubt it will slow, let alone stop. Grant Whyalla South Australia P.S. Posted in the wrong portion of the tree accidentally. I beg your pardon, that was careless of me. :-)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You can't have a solution looking for a problem to solve. If virtualization does not work for an IT department's setup then they are better to reconsider at a later date encase it does at that time. Are you speaking form personal experience? If your IT dept has given up on virtualization (VMware is only one of many brands) what was the reasoning behind that? The experience may be of interest to others and I'm definately curious to hear about it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Hey! TR.. where's my cheque!.. hehe.. I kid of course. Sadly, that was all voluntary. I started with a Coleco Adam and have been been mucking with OS since a 386 with Dos was state of the art and win3.11 was a good choice for running multi-nod BBs under (deskview, how I miss thee too). Thanks to an IT family, I've explored all Microsft's OS offerings with the only exception being Vista and Bob. At some point around winNT4, a friend gave me a Slackware install CD which beat me badly but lead to trying an old Redhat. I won't fool anyone by saying I have fond feelings towards MS but I do try to be somewhat balanced and have some valid cross platform background on the subject. After rereading it I gotta say that I must have been having heck of a day.. [stares off into space then swats at an invisible fly].. but, I'm feeling Much better now. (a cookie and 10 points for anyone who gets the reference) I think the later half focusing on development models was a little more balance than the first though the first was in direct response to the "us vs them" from the Windows camp I'm guessing. I have to also give credit too RMS having read his analysis of development models along with everything else OSS related on catb.org. I've read anything else I can get my hands on but still can not find fault with his analysis of software markets and models; even if I don't agree with other topics and views. Either way, cheers for reading my long rant. It's good too hear I caused thought. Even if the result didn't conform to my own opinions, it's important to think things through and have a basis for one's own ideas.

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

You should'a. It was excellent.Made me rethink a few things (even if your obvious bias shows through in a few places :) ). Thanks for taking the time.

john3347
john3347

"A system where somebody can just say "Ahh screw it I don't like this I'm going to make a new (insert something here) that works better and to hell with compatibility, others can start again"." Doesn't this describe Vista to a tee? If we tolerate this practice from the "Top Dog" why would we not tolerate it from the others? We must have a system that ordinary people can use and utilize such that a home user doesn't require an IT degree.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

This rant is meant to be somewhat constructive and is not directed at you specifically but it's something I've been noticing for a while. "Linux is also widely inconsistent." Of course it is; Linux is only the kernel chosen for many different OS that happen to be built with the same commmodity parts. Chevy and Ford are both widely inconsistent; so too is Winchester and Glock. This is really one of those myths that won't die and it's near completely due to focusing on the kernel of the OS rather than the actual OS. Simply put; Ubuntu, Mandriva, Red Hat, Debian, Suse are all seporate OS. Saying they are inconsistant is like saying that Windows and osX are not consistant. It's like saying that a Ford and a Chevy are inconsistnat because they are wired differently and keep the driver's controls in different places on the dash board. With firearms, we don't refer to a thousands of available rifles as fireing pins; "firing pins are widely inconsistant." - no, the assembled item based on firing pins are widely and rightfuly inconsistant. Or to put it anothe way, refering to Mandriva, Ubuntu, Redhat, Debian and all the other seporate but similar OS is like refering to all cars as a GM 4 cylinder while ignoring the rest of the car and branding wrapped around the engine block. Granted, those that purposfully make Linux based OS sound complicated to support there own superiority complex or those that simply think that somehow Linux based OS should remain the elitist OS forever used only by a minority of computer hippies have both done a great deal to fuel the confusion. This is the reasoning behind my own choice to refer to Linux based OS or preferably by the OS brand name. When you push "Linux" you are talking about commodity part that happens to be used in multiple assembled OS. When you push "Ubuntu" or "Red Hat".. you are actualy talking about a specific distribution which happens to use the Linux kernel as it's core. I think it works for both your concern of inconsistancy and for the overwelming fear people feel at the choice that FOSS offers. In the case of choice; sure there are fifty different email clients you can choose from instead of one installed by default and two or three other's you can choose from for Windows. Each distribution ("Linux based OS" or simply "different OS" as is the case) has a shortlist to choose from and an email client offered as the default even though you may still be able to install any of the fifty available. One does not go out and buy "Linux", one buys Red Hat, Suse or Ubuntu. (In reality, one buys the service contract for support of what the contractor is offering or pays a reasonable price for the OS in some cases but that's not the point here.) This is also responding to the concern of different package managers; they are different OS that happen to use Linux as the core. Redhat != Debian so being based on seporate package managers doesn't really matter. the package management system is still easier than anything installed on the Windows side except the deceptively easy "Windows Update" but that only pushes updates and MS personal agenda. Like windows, third party software can very easily be written to have it's own pretty install wizard and "setup.exe" equivalent for a Linux based OS regardless of the package management system. Once you get over the fack that an OS has "Linux" at it's core and look at the distributions as seporate but similar OS that confusion goes away. Only too contrast because it is the enterprise darling; Windows is widely inconsistant. Win3.11 is totaly inconsistant too Win95 which is completely inconsistant too WinNT. Even different versions of WinNT (or WindowsNT kernel based OS in reality) are widely inconsistant; win2k != winXP which is barely recognizable in comparison to Vista. But somehow we can call it all Windows and we don't have to discuss how inconsistant the package managers (install systems and update channels) are or how inconsistant the configuration settings are between them all. The inconsistancy of third party software install processes seems to go forgivingly unnoticed too. I'm not really sure how to easily make that clear to those who don't have a clear understanding of the OS distribution model. ----- I do have to go back and give your comments a better read when I'm not stuck on the one point though because I do see some good stuff in there on a quick read over. For where you seem to be discussing development models though I'll make a quick comment: Proprietary development model - motivated by the software as the product -- profit is a one time shot off initial sale -- profit must fuel support and ongoing development -- when profit goes below a cutoff, the new version is produced to rekindle profits -- when the new version is anounced, the old version's remaining potential profit dies quickly - development restrictied by budgets and "pointy hair" managers concerned with the previously mention profit and budgets -- if the budget says no room too fix bugs; they go unfixed -- if the budget says no room for properly coding functions then "good enough to get money out of a customer" is the golden rule - development scheduals generated for the best interest of the marketing not developer departments -- developers get just enough time and budget to make something "good enough to get money out of a customer" - patches and followup is limited -- it's back to budgets; developers are needed on other projects and there are only so many -- patches have to be fixed if they open the customer too a threat that the customer is aware of (if it emberasses the software publisher then it's suddenly "critical" but not before then) -- patches are only going to be available from the subset of a small group of available developers for as long as the product initial sales profit margins justify it On the up side, proprietary does have a much more specific design scope and more unified infrastructure behind it. That is an advantage and a limitation where people have use of your product for custom needs; they must find what comes closest to working and live with it. FOSS developmnet - motivated by function set and quality -- it will sink or swim on it's own merits, if it doesn't compete against another program that is trully better then it will fade away -- example; Adobe's programs for Linux based OS didn't fail because FOSS users are unwilling to pay for softwre, they failed because the price they demanded did not justify the functions and product quality they actually exhibited. -- self chosen and interested developers want to build the software not fetch a weekly paycheck. - development budgets -- if it's a good program then it will attract developers which could easily be thousands not just what a pointy hair's budgets allow - updates are the continued development -- updates are not thought of as emberassing for the company reputation. The oposite is true; if there's no updates, the project may be dormant or replaced by something better already. -- updates are not limited to only as long as the initial sales of the software produce a profit margin -- versions of software are usually a continuation of the program rather than a complete change primarily meant to force sales of the new version and resulting fresh high profit margin - release early, release often -- some FOSS offerings have let this slide but many haven't. release early since updates are only the continued evolution of the program - flexability also -- this development model generally aims to produce customizable programs rather than one size fitting all -- if it doesn't do what you need, you can modify it rather than pick what square peg comes closest to fitting your round whole The down side is the higher degree of general knowledge needed for that customizable side but that's what IT people are supposed to be paid for; learning the new tech and making it work rather than pointy clicky administration. On the user side, there is a continuing myth that it's hard to use and there is the amount of branding that people know there needed functions by (but I only know adobe photoshop not "image editing" type stuff). I find one method to be very much based on what benefits the shareholders at the expense of the end user. What should be a pure product based on functions and build quality must also include hostile "features" to keep people from using what may be a functionally better product built to higher standards. Interoperability is well and good but not when it's specifically designed to limit the choice of the end user. The other is based on what benefits the end user being higher priority than what benefits the shareholders dividends. functions and quality are the end goals and competitive drivers. No concessions must be made for what keeps the end user from choosing a different and potentially better offering. customization and choice are very much in the end user's best interest even to the point of being overwhelming (again, partially geekdom's fault but proprietary marketing helps that along as best it can to benefit shareholders). Now, developer groups generally fall somewhere inbetween of the two extremes and many prorpietary development houses try to include as much of the customer's best interest as stratigicly possible but they still have limitations. On the other side, darwinism, patents (codecs) and specs for intentionally broken industry standards or intentionally closed hardware interface systems along with some "gotta have it" major software suites cause there own challenges. I won't pretend that I'm neutral on the subject but I can see value in both development models. That also only takes into account, two of many different models.

grantbav
grantbav

Linux is an awesome thing. It has done a great deal to free us from corporate racketeering. But it is not likely to get what it needs to replace the commercial systems. As Jason said it needs apps, there just isn't any substitute. Online web apps just aren't sufficient because they are largely only in their infancy themselves. People want to buy their software. They like to walk into a store, browse for what they like and take it home. They insert the media and the software is deployed. No package managers, no RPMs, and absolute consistency in the deployment schema. Well almost anyway. Linux is also widely inconsistent. Red hat departs greatly in many ways from Ubuntu, which departs from Suse, which departs from Yellow Dog etc. etc. Windows and Mac OS X are developed by people who get paid to follow a strict design schedule. The systems are designed to follow stringent UI and installation / management frameworks. Users are very lucky to have the benefit of all the time many Open Source developers give up. But. That just can't compete with the huge teams of people who get the means to earn a living making software that meets strict design objectives that are set by one company, with an interest in making it's software a marketable profitable commodity. It is very difficult to replicate that. Even when some companies do pay people to contribute to Open Source, their contributions just aren't sufficient to close up the cracks. A system where somebody can just say "Ahh screw it I don't like this I'm going to make a new (insert something here) that works better and to hell with compatibility, others can start again". Just won't wash in environments where users expect rigid consistency. Sure there is organization and collaboration between linux developers, and sure kernel standards are pretty tight. BUT. Windows and the Macintosh is developed to keep the frameworks consistent so as not to create issues for their users and even that doesn't always work. And their development models often hold this objective above all else and it still goes awry. The Windows and Mac developments teams have access to all pertinent information and people at the drop of a hat and Apple and Microsoft go to great lengths spending money and providing resources to make sure it happens. How is something so unmanaged, (by comparison), so; well "Open" to really compete with that. Some developer in Sweden can't have access to the sum total of an Israeli contributors code and design philosophy and drafts and previous versions the same way. Sure they have shared resources, but it just isn't in the same league. Money makes the difference. I doubt Linux will ever be for the desktop unless in the hands of a very savvy user such as some of those who who post here for example. Commercial systems have their future assured. The Windows and Mac strategies are sound as they keep the users consistency experience very high at the top of the design objectives list. Meetings take place where developers all get paid to sit and share ideas on how to make things work "together". Radical influences and changes from outside are not permitted as the system is "closed". This is how the overwhelming majority of users who know little of IT have come to expect a system to behave. Linux very purpose stands in direct opposition to that philosophy. Anything can be challenged or altered by anybody, anytime. Linux has a future, but not on the majority of desktops. Not until at least some of Linux is closed. GPL is actually the thing that will in my view prevent Linux from getting the lions share. even though it is what makes it so wonderful.

Tig2
Tig2

If you need parts or want to build your own, General Nanosystems is a great name to know in Minnesota. There used to be a place at Lyndale and 66th in Richfield that had bench space available and sold casual parts that would help home techs to build a system. I am in the North suburbs now and without a bridge, no easy way to get there, but they were great as well. The greatest news of 2008 is that we have choices today that we didn't see even as recently as last year. That ability to choose the tool that is truly the right thing is a real gift.

Xerxes612
Xerxes612

I agree with you about switching to MAC. I have always been a fan of MS and being a desktop tech I think we have been lucky that we have really only had a requirement to know one flavor of OS - Windows, and one office suite for some time - Office (at least since Lotus123 and WordPerfect went by the wayside. As Windows keeps sucking it up with their latest releases of Vista and Office 2k7 I feel there will be a requirement to know multiple OSs and multiple Office suites. Choice is good, but the choice will require a greater knowledge of technologies for allot of tech pros in the industry. I for one like to learn now things and play with different technologies, but dread the day when I will need to be an expert with the different available options in the workplace. PS - Microcenter is the place in MPLS/STP - Also, checkout General Nanosystems off University by 280 in STP for great part prices.

ProperName
ProperName

If you goto the Ubuntu website here: https://shipit.ubuntu.com/ You can get them to send you disks completely free of charge. You may select how many of each (32bit, 64 bit) version you would like. I received them within a month, which was awesome. Since it is open source and freely distributable, I ordered one copy of each and now I simply set up my clients with installed setups. If the client wants a copy, I make a copy. So easy, and Ubuntu isn't going to hunt me down and throw me in jail for promoting their software either :)

john3347
john3347

It is not going to be WalMart and Sears who changes the OS landscape. It is the Open Source community itself. When the Open Source community realizes that they want the "non-geek" types to use and promote their products and start writing them with that attitude, they will reduce Micro$oft to just another player in the IT marketplace. The buzz word must become "user friendly".

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

On-line apps have more than just that limitation. There are security issues, connectivity issues, browser compatibility issues, and so on. On-line apps may be acceptable to some, but I don't see any business the collects personal information from its customers using these apps.

roberto@benitez.ca
roberto@benitez.ca

But you can still download them. I mean, you can use the tools online and have the files in local machine.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

What do you mean, you lost my data? I still want local copies. I can control those.

roberto@benitez.ca
roberto@benitez.ca

Have you ever tried www.thinkfree.com or www.zoho.com ? You don't even need software installation. You just create your docs or spreadsheets and save it in the server. Which means, accessible from wherever you want. Everything is becoming online accessible.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm a fan of Mandriva but Ubuntu is the name everyone knows right now. I hear a lot of good things about PCLinuxOS also. Your best bet is to download a few liveCD images and burn them to disk. You can play with the distributions major included programs without installing too your hard drive; see if hardware works well, see if the programs you want are there. If your comfortable burning CDs then it's a dead simple task to download the images and create your own CD. You can also purchase disks from cheapbytes.com and most distribution websites these days. I thin Ubuntu has a simple to follow howto or easy method of ordering disks for a minimal cost. There's lots of people around the forums here that can help if you run into questions.

alaniane
alaniane

that are good for office productivity and surfing the Internet is not a problem for Linux machines. Gaming depends on what type of games you like to play. Gaming is the weak spot on the Linux platform for serious gamers; however, you are just looking to play computer games for entertainment without all of the latest graphics effects or latest popular game among gamers then Linux does have a plethora of games available. As for their office suites, it also depends on what functionality you need. Each office software is going to have its strong points and its weaknesses. You could evaluate a copy of open office for Windows to see if it meets your needs before trying to move to Linux. If you depend heavily on macros then moving to another platform will be a bigger adjustment since macros generally don't port well to other platforms.

swheeler
swheeler

My home desktop is used for 3 things - surfing the internet, downloading games to play, my checkbook, and spreadsheets/word processing. Occasionally, like twice a year, we'll print pictures. I would have Linux in a heartbeat if I was confident I could still do these things. I'm seriously considering a Linux laptop, but will I get the same satisfaction I do from my XP Pro? My girlfriend is now using a Macbook for work, so we're already a dual OS household. I'm willing to have 3 if I can be confident I don't lose functionality.

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