Jason Brooks

By eWEEK Labs  |  Posted 2002-11-18 Print this article Print


It looks as though desktop Linux is set to make waves next year.

The stars may be lining up to make 2003 a year of significant growth and excitement in mobile computing. Whether such a constellation comes into view, however, will depend on the continued spread of GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and 1xRTT wireless data networks-along with price schemes palatable enough for companies to adopt them.

Virtually every major wireless carrier is now in the midst of a high-speed data network rollout, and AT&T Corp. and Sprint Corp. are experimenting with the sort of unlimited access rate plans that will enable mobile device users to enjoy and afford the same always-on network connectivity thats become de rigueur for tethered systems.

As wireless data networks continue to spread in the coming year, companies can expect to see a widening range of mobile devices with which to pair them. Handspring Inc.s Treo smart-phone devices now come in flavors for GPRS and 1xRTT, and we expect Microsoft Corp.s long-awaited smart-phone platform to find its way into users hands next year.

In addition, the coming year should bring new operating system advances in mobile computing, with Palm Inc.s ARM-based Palm OS 5 due to debut, along with a decent chance that Microsofts Windows CE .Net will find its way into Pocket PC.

Advances in mobile hardware, software and connectivity alone do not a business case make. They do, however, set the table for some interesting mobile Web services scenarios. BEA Systems Inc., IBM, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems Inc., among others, are preparing mobile versions of their Web services offerings.

Mobile Web services promise to maximize the potential of mobile computing by ferrying data to and from field devices, enabling users to function more flexibly and efficiently.

I also expect desktop Linux to make enterprise inroads next year. Desktop implementations of the Linux operating system have been steadily accruing small design and functionality gains for the past few years. Helping to hamper acceptance, however, was the insistence of Red Hat Inc.-perhaps the biggest name in Linux-that the open-source operating system wasnt yet ready for the desktop.

Now, with Mozilla and OpenOffice.org settling in after their recent 1.0 releases, and the K Desktop Environment and GNU Network Object Model Environment desktop environments growing ever more polished, it looks as though desktop Linux is set to make waves next year. Red Hat now seems to agree-its just released its first desktop-oriented Linux distribution.


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