Seven Predictions for 2008

Monday Dec 10th 2007 by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
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A fearless glimpse into the year ahead: Intel, the desktop, the iPhone, Linux, and, of course, the ever-present spam.

The time is rapidly approaching when I’ll start getting asked for a list of predictions for 2008. Rather than wait to be put on the spot, this year I’ve decided to come up with my list in advance. That way not only am I avoiding those uncomfortable “uhmmms” and awkward silences, but I also give you extra time to forget my predictions, so that this time next year I’m not held accountable for what I said.

So, without further ado, let me present my seven predictions for 2008.

1) Linux on the desktop will get some more good breaks, but the “Year of Linux” is still a long way off.

Linux has enjoyed a number of successes this year. Ubuntu has risen out of the pool of distros and stood out as the first credible incarnation of Linux with any chance of swaying Windows and Mac users over to the free side. Dell, along with a few other OEMs, has decided that Linux is finally mature enough to offer alongside Windows. We’ve also seen Wal-mart push a fully-featured PC for $200, something that wouldn’t be possible without Linux.

But for all this success, and more guaranteed for next year, 2008 won’t be the “Year of Linux.” Partly this is down to user apathy and a resistance to change that goes so far that people would rather pay Microsoft or Apple blindly rather than even entertain the notion of change. But another factor working against Linux is Apple. Now that Steve Jobs is out to mop up as many disaffected Windows users as possible, this is going to stall Linux adoption over the coming years.

2) Watch out Mac users, hackers are after you!

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Apple’s market share is growing, thanks to clever advertising and dissatisfied Windows users hoping that Mac OS will be easier to take care of than Windows was. Problem is that these users are bringing their gullible, click on anything mentality with them. This means that social engineering tricks that worked on a certain segment of Windows users are now primed to work on those same users who’ve migrated to the Mac.

Mac user’s lives will get more complex next year.

3) No matter how cool you think your current iPhone is, iPhone 2.0 will make you hate it.

Did you stand in line for hours and pay through the nose just to be the first to own what millions now have? Well, no matter how cool you think your iPhone is, and no matter how much you think it has revolutionized your digital life, iPhone 2.0 will come along at some point during the summer next year and make it seem old, out-dated and, well, frankly, rubbish. All those first generation bugs, flaws and omissions (the bugs, flaws and omissions you worked so hard to shut your mind to) will be fixed and the iPhone MKII will be hard for even the critics to resist.

4) Expect DRM to have a tighter stranglehold over your digital life.

Don’t be suckered into thinking that DRM is going away any time soon just because Steve Jobs and executives in the music and movie industry are making anti-DRM noises. DRM has nothing to do with preventing piracy; it’s a way of taking consumer’s fair use rights away and licensing them back to them for a fee. As the content download market becomes more competitive, companies such as Apple will fight to protect and maintain their monopoly over users.

Continued: Vista, AMD vs. Intel, and your in-box

5) The “we’re waiting for Vista SP1” excuse will be replaced by “we’re waiting for Windows 7.”

I don’t think anyone seriously believes SP1 will fix all the concerns and gripes people have about making the switch from XP to Vista. Overall, the problem with encouraging XP users to nuke their install and enjoy all that Aero goodness comes down to apathy arising from chronic disappointment. This you don’t fix with a service pack!

I’ll bet you a screenful of random ASCII characters that this time next year Microsoft will still be trying to figure out why people don’t like Vista, only the pressure will be off because the media will be starting to rev the engine on the Windows 7 machine.

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6) AMD will spend another year playing catch-up with Intel.

There was a time when nearly all my PCs ran on AMD processors. However, in recent years AMD has suffered a battering at the hands of Intel and have gone from supplying processors that all hardcore enthusiasts and overclockers wanted to own to being hammered in almost every category of desktop processor. Even the latest Phenom processors have turned out to be pure marketing hyperbole: real-world benchmarking has shown them to be a crippling disappointment compared to what Intel has to offer.

This might make me sound like an Intel fan, but I’m not. Without serious competition from AMD, Intel runs the risk of stagnating, which would mean a return to those 486 days when progress was made at a glacial pace.

7) You think spam’s bad now? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

I’m coming to the conclusion there’s little that can be done to stop spam. Sure, Microsoft could be doing more to combat botnets, and ISPs could be making it more difficult for those caught up in botnets to flood the net with vast volumes of email, but even these measures would not turn off the spam faucet for good. I’m bracing myself for the spam load to increase significantly over the next 12 months and I’d encourage everyone to spend some time thinking about how they can give less eyeball time to organized criminals and aggressive marketers pushing bogus financial deals and strange pharmaceuticals which promise effects on the human body that belong in sci-fi rather than the realms of medicine.

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