The year in IT was filled with big changes, as Microsoft unveiled the future of Windows and former enterprise stalwart Research In Motion continued its distressing fall toward irrelevance. The year in IT also had its uplifting stories, from the birth of the Raspberry Pi to Red Hat’s success pairing financial success with a vision true to its open source ideals. And, of course, the year in IT also had its share of bizarre and perplexing stories, with the meltdown of Mitt Romney’s tech team and the rise and fall of the Windows tech support scammers. Here are our choices for the most interesting stories of the bunch—and we look forward to bringing you many more in 2013.
Windows 8 launch
October 26th saw the release of Microsoft’s latest—but not necessarily greatest—operating system: Windows 8. (Read our review.) The scope was ambitious. Windows 8 is striving to be an operating system that can comfortably handle iPad-style touch tablets while still running and working with decades of mouse-and-keyboard-driven desktop applications.
The result? An unpredictable hybrid. It’s chock full of welcome features and improvements over Windows 7, and it really is the first version of Windows to sport a proper, usable touch interface. But with these improvements come rough edges a-plenty, and an experience that just isn’t quite joined up.
Success or failure? It could go either way, with indications that it’s off to a good start but may not have eclipsed its predecessor.
Windows 8 Microsoft gets into the hardware business with Surface
Not content with releasing a new version of Windows, Microsoft built the hardware to run it on, too. The release of the Surface tablet was a landmark event as Microsoft went beyond merely licensing an operating system for other people’s hardware; it decided to build the hardware, too.
What Redmond produced was an attractive, well-built package contains plenty of smart technology—not least a three millimeter thick keyboard cover that manages to be remarkably usable—but that just doesn’t quite hang together. It looks like a tablet but includes four Office 2013 apps that are all but unusable without one of those keyboard covers; it works like a laptop but without the “use it on your lap” flexibility that laptops boast.
It’s a fascinating first effort, but Microsoft hasn’t cracked the hardware market quite yet.
Windows 8 Romney vs. Obama, Orca vs. Narwhal
The 2012 presidential race wasn’t the first “Internet-driven” political contest, but mobile apps and Web tools played a bigger role than ever, making IT a much more important element of presidential politics. And the difference between the IT management approaches of the Obama and Romney campaigns proved revelatory.
While IT might not have lost the election for Governor Mitt Romney, his campaign’s “Project Orca” quickly became a lightning rod for frustration with the campaign’s apparent mismanagement andheavy reliance on outsourcing to consultants. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign’s move to essentially operate like an Internet startup helped drive a more effective fundraising and volunteer coordination effort.
Both political parties are sure to draw on the lessons learned here when they start their planning (probably in just a few weeks) for the 2014 mid-term Congressional races and the 2016 presidential race.
Windows 8 The passion of RIM
At the beginning of the year, Research In Motion was already in a deep nose dive because of the company’s failure to keep up with shifts in smartphone and tablet technology. There were rumors the company was for sale. Instead, RIM purged its management and brought aboard a new CEO, Thorsten Heins, who has spent the last 12 months attempting to reverse the company’s disastrous direction.
But as the release of the BlackBerry 10 platform was pushed further and further back (now scheduled for January 2013), and the launch of carriers’ 4G LTE networks left the existing BlackBerry models gathering dust in North American markets, the company struggled to keep its core customers onboard. RIM has some reason for hope in the new year, but it will likely never dominate the mobile market again; Heins has said that there’s room for RIM to be successful behind Apple and Android in a more specialized niche.
Windows 8 HP and AMD fall in the “post-PC” economy
The success of the mobile devices that compete with RIM’s BlackBerry and the shrinking PC market combined to hit AMD and HP hard as well. AMD cut back chip production and paid a heavy penalty in the process just to avoid having millions of chips sitting unsold in inventory. It released another 1,800 employees into the wild. It lost its chief financial officer (who, in a sign of how things are going for the PC industry, fled to a mobile and wireless distributor, Brightstar). And, while AMD keeps trying to crack the server market (with low-power ARM-based processors on the way for 2014), it has failed to push into new markets with its technology—putting the future of the company into doubt.
HP was already in trouble before the PC market began to tank; while the company remained the top PC manufacturer in 2012, the company’s poor decisions under previous management continued to haunt it. HP purged 27,000 employees, then took an $8 billion accounting charge—in part an admission that it had spent too much on the “big data”software firm Autonomy and in part because HP’s dirty laundry being aired in so many venues had done huge harm to the company’s brand (and stock value) as a whole.
Windows 8 Raspberry Pi, one of the greatest things ever
One of the most exciting new IT products of the year is the size of a credit card and costs only $35. We’re talking, of course, about the Raspberry Pi, which started shipping in the early months of 2012. It’s small and cheap, but it’s a real computer with an ARM CPU, a GPU, up to 512MB RAM, and enough ports to hook up a monitor, mouse, and keyboard.
It’s a great tool for teaching kids programming or for setting up a home media center on your HDTV. But it’s also become the go-to device for some of the most impressive hacking, tinkering, and hobbyist projects around. Just look at Professor Simon Cox of the University of Southampton, who wired up 64 Raspberry Pis to make an HPC cluster housed in Legos.
The Pi was somewhat difficult to get for months, but supplies have improved recently. Soon an even cheaper version, which has lower power consumption but lacks an Ethernet port and has only one USB port, will go on sale for the low price of $25.
Windows 8 tech support scammers get busted
In early October, the Federal Trade Commission struck a blow for everyone who has ever gotten a phone call from one of the most annoying scammers on the planet. Fraudsters claiming to be calling from “Windows tech support” call up unsuspecting victims, claim that monitoring has shown their computers are infected with malware, and demand anywhere from $49 to $450 to fix the nonexistent problems.
The FTC announced a crackdown on six companies that allegedly orchestrated the scams, filing lawsuits against them, freezing their assets and shutting down operations. The agency did somesleuthing to track down the alleged culprits, but unfortunately not every company participating in this scam has been shut down, so the annoying calls continue.
On a humorous note, many peeved citizens of the Internet have turned the tables on the scammers by performing elaborate trolls of their own, but that’s the only positive outcome from this sad story.
Windows 8 Red Hat hits a billion dollars
There are plenty of billion-dollar tech companies, but only one hit that milestone entirely by building, maintaining, and supporting open source software. Red Hat hit the billion-dollar mark for the first time when it announced its end-of-fiscal-year earnings on March 28, shortly after we detailed its rise to prominence in the story “How Red Hat killed its core product—and became a billion-dollar business.”
Red Hat was plugging along in the early 2000s with the freely downloadable Red Hat Linux when it ditched that product to come up with a completely new business model. The new flagship was Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which was still open source but introduced a subscription model that turned Red Hat into a major IT vendor.
Red Hat now leads the Linux-based enterprise server market and has expanded its product portfolio to include middleware, storage, security, virtualization, and cloud management software. Throughout Red Hat’s steady rise, one thing has remained constant: all of its software is open source. So even if you don’t pay Red Hat for the fully compiled bits, you can get that software and compile it yourself for free.[ Source :- Arstechnica ]