8. The New Browser Wars
The browser wars are back-and bigger than ever.
Web browser releases and innovation are coming as fast as they did in the day of Microsoft and Netscape's epic struggle, in the 1990s. In 2008, Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera and a new browser warrior, Google, released new apps, innovating on Web features and, in general, pushing the browser market forward.
Google actually has two armies on the browser war field: Mozilla's Firefox, which derives most (some estimates say more than 85 percent) of its support from Google, and Chrome, Google's homegrown open-source browser that was released in beta in September.
Check out the new browser wars in pictures.
As applications and infrastructure move to the cloud and begin to be delivered through the Web to a plethora of devices, control of the desktop operating system matters less and less. If the mobile device is the new PC, some consider the browser the new OS. And, despite Internet Explorer's 72 percent market share, Microsoft can't expect to have the same advantage in the browser arena that it has had on the desktop.
9. Bill Gates Retires
It was hardly a surprise, but Bill Gates' retirement
marked the end of the PC's first 33 years and captured our attention for weeks.
Gates remains Microsoft's chairman and largest shareholder, but June 27 was his last day as a full-time employee at the company. He now works full-time leading the world's richest philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
For a comical look back at Bill Gates, click here.
Gates' departure comes as the technology industry's center of gravity shifts from the desktop and PC-territory Microsoft thoroughly dominated for 20 years-to the Internet and various mobile devices, where Microsoft's footing is less sure.
The task of making Microsoft a relevant brand in the age of the Internet and cloud computing is left to Gates' successor, CEO Steve Ballmer-the man behind Microsoft's failed bid to acquire Yahoo, a giant of Web traffic and the owner of enough dispersed infrastructure to give Microsoft an anchor in the cloud.
10. The $99 Terabyte
You can't call it a commodity, but storage sure got cheap in 2008.
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Google's vice president of Asia-Pacific and Latin America operations, speaking in November at a conference in Singapore, painted a provocative picture of the future: If the cost of storage continues to fall, by 2020, "all the world's content will fit in the size of an iPod and in the palm of your hand. ... And as early as 2015, all the world's music will sit in the palm of your hand."
Some external hard drives from Samsung, Iomega and others are pressing toward $99, and post-holiday sales might drop costs below that line. In addition, cloud storage offerings such as EMC MozyHome, Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), Carbonite and Box.net shot up in popularity in 2008, with most offering unlimited personal or business data storage for anywhere from $50 to $75 per year.
The real revolution in price, however, might be the SSD
. Starting with the Lenovo ThinkPad x300 laptop, PC vendors have tried to incorporate more solid-state drive designs into their notebooks, allowing for thinner, lighter and sturdier PCs. Further, the drop in NAND flash prices behind the SSDs means a cheap PC with no moving parts could become a reality.