ANALYST: Timothy Dyck MOST IMPRESSIVE: Microsofts .Net Framework, released in February, will be looked upon as an important milestone leading the industry toward safer, more secure and more productive programming tools. .Net Framework has a new run-time engine, class libraries and APIs that allow it to compete successfully with Java, despite that platforms maturity. Plus, the clean-room, open-source Mono implementation of .Net Framework is expected to be complete by mid-2003, making .Net Framework Unix-friendly and providing a choice of implementations.MOST USEFUL: Mozilla finally shipped, and its a wonderful Web browser. I use it constantly. The Windows-compatible file server Samba also made great strides this year with its new ability to act as a domain controller for Windows 2000 clients and support for Windows printing APIs. The quiet project keeps producing high-quality code, delivering stronger features and avoiding security potholes. SLIPPING OFF THE RADAR: Combo phone-PDA devices. (Sorry, Handspring.) The higher cost of the combo devices and the momentum of the stand-alone cell phone market will keep cell phones and PDAs separate, connected (by those who want to do so) through Bluetooth. I said last year that WAP was toast, and the bread is getting steadily browner. Also, the aging troika of AIX, HP-UX and HPs Tru64 Unix are on their first "going" of "going, going, gone," to be replaced by Linux. YEARS BIGGEST TECH STORY: Actually, three stories top my list: The leap in security awareness among IT organizations provides a welcome emphasis on doing what needs to be done in any case; the continued soft economy, which left many IT workers without jobs or caused them to leave the industry entirely; and the Microsoft trial. I hope the first factor is with us longer than the second is as we move into 2003. WHAT TO WATCH IN 2003: Look for continuing organic growth of Web services. Tool support is now ubiquitous, and as databases continue to move rapidly toward XML, Web services will follow. In addition, 802.11b continues to surprise. Heres another organic phenomenon that keeps us connected when and where we want to be. VPNs are ubiquitous and effective and a perfect complement to public wireless networks. My prediction: In North America, 3G will be VOIP over 802.11b. LEVEL OF PRESCIENCE LAST YEAR: I talked about the value of application firewalls that use trusted OS concepts to enforce kernel-level security controls. The concept is no less attractive to me this year and, indeed, is needed more than ever. However, it still hasnt moved out of niche territory. The technology has to be part of the base OS before ISVs will get on board, and that will take a while. The Linux 2.6 kernel will have the beginnings (but just the beginnings) of a trusted OS framework in it, making it the first mainstream server OS to incorporate some of these ideas into a mass-market product.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: The bedraggled end of the Microsoft antitrust case left us with an emasculated decision and a sour taste in my mouth. The decision was not a fair redress for Microsofts anti-competitive behavior, nor will it spur greater competition in the future. Microsoft is at its best when it competes in creating the best implementation of an open specification, not when it relies on its tightly controlled protocols and Windows bundling advantage to squeeze yet more blood out of its installed base.