Highs, Lows of 2002 Set the Stage for 2003

I'm struck by the amount of innovation in what was supposed to be a dormant 2002.

How will 2002 be remembered in the technology community? The year was marked by evaporating budgets, layoffs and an overall grumpiness that the promise of a technology-driven economy was shattered. In this, our final issue of the year (weve combined Dec. 23 and 30 issues), weve asked the eWEEK Labs and News teams to look at the highs and lows of the past year and make a few guesses at where the technology industry is headed in 2003.

In reading the predictions and top news stories, Im struck by the amount of innovation and product development that took place in what was supposed to be a dormant 2002. The stage is now set for technology platforms and vendors to show what they can do as budgets slowly revive.

Open-source software has steadily moved from the preserve of elite aficionados to a true contender in the enterprise. Technology Editor Peter Coffee says, "This could be a year in which everything from the desktop and server operating system to the ubiquitous office productivity suite" becomes a newly competitive market. That competition would be good for the users and industry as a whole.

The processor stage is also set for what could be the first true choice that corporate customers have had in years. The release in 2002 of Intels Itanium 2 showed the commitment of Intel in capturing the 64-bit marketplace even if it means users will have to wrestle with a new instruction set. Meanwhile, AMDs Athlon 64 and Opteron processors promise the power of a next-generation chip with a compatibility path to previous software generations.

The Web services stage is set with a clear choice between Microsofts .Net approach and the Java-based avenues most heavily championed by IBM. While its doubtful actual Web services will appear in great quantity in 2003, the battle for the hearts and minds of the development community will be ferocious.

The past year was also marked by many technology advances and retreats. Computer security has seen improvements in wireless access and user control. However, every advance seems to bring on a new list of required patches and new holes that must be plugged. This year also saw the introduction of the Tablet computer, although its market is still not clearly defined. The choices in handheld computers are now overwhelming but difficult to differentiate.

2002 may eventually be remembered in the IT community as a period when the stage was set for the big showdowns of the decade. Have a nice holiday.

Tell me your predictions for 2003 at eric_lundquist@ziffdavis.com.