Labs Outlook 2010: This Year Will Be Big for Windows, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Mobile Web Development

After kicking the tires of Windows 7 in 2009, enterprises will be ready to adopt the new operating system in 2010. However, much-ballyhooed enterprise features may not make as big of an impact as Microsoft expected (or hoped), and IT managers will lean on trusty old technologies to aid in migration. Now that the standard has been ratified and competition is growing stiffer, the time is right for enterprise adoption of 802.11n. And you can expect to see bold moves in the mobile app space.

I see 2010 as a time of bearing fruit from seeds planted throughout the barren year that was 2009.

Certainly, Windows 7 was one of the major technology stories of 2009, but corporations mostly watched and tested, as is normally the case with new operating systems and low IT budgets. We'll see larger numbers of enterprises start deploying Windows 7 in earnest in the second half of 2010 at the earliest. Along the way, we'll see an increase in interest in migration tools and services, as well as in image management and storage.

We'll also find that some of Windows 7's ballyhooed enterprise-grade features-DirectAccess and BranchCache spring to mind-won't make any impact on corporate networks. Companies won't be ready or willing to make the required leap to Windows Server 2008 R2 on the back end because the primary feature of Windows Server 2008 R2-Hyper-V-is vastly inferior to competing virtualization solutions.

Administrators will also discover that trusty old technologies are better suited than new ones to helping deal with any application compatibility issues arising from Windows 7 adoption on the desktop. While XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC have been touted as the way forward for legacy application support on Windows 7, corporations won't like the additional management and licensing burdens involved with supporting two operating systems where there once was one. Look for a renewed focus on trusty old Terminal Services as the preferred route for application compatibility, spruced up by Windows 7's enhanced Remote Desktop client.

2010 will also prove to be a great year for enterprise adoption of 802.11n Wi-Fi. The standard is complete and ratified, the competitive landscape is filled with mature products and an access-point price war is cooking. And with 4-by-4 antenna reference designs coming soon from wireless chip-set companies such as Quintana and promising up to 600M-bps performance (albeit geared more toward carrier and HDTV use cases), prices on the 2-by-3 and 3-by-3 implementations favored for enterprise usage could drop further by the end of 2010.

Also in the upcoming year, I expect to see more mobile developers adopt Web development as their primary delivery vector rather than OS- and platform-specific development. App stores have been an emerging story during the last 18 months, with Apple's App Store success paving the way for new mobile-OS-specific marketplaces representing every significant platform. (And carrier-specific marketplaces are still to come.)

Across the board, mobile developers have expressed dissatisfaction with elements of the App Store model-dissatisfaction with app approval processes, marketing outreach potential, financial returns, audience reach and the burden of having to develop for multiple platforms. Taking a more Web-based approach relieves many of these concerns, as writing good code for the mobile Web should apply to all devices rather than a single platform.

For a model of this approach, I applaud DiVitas Networks, which this year unveiled new Web-based mobile unified communications software. When I tested its previous solution in late 2008, I found the experience excellent on Nokia/Symbian but a major kludge on Windows Mobile. But now, with a Web-based approach, DiVitas has found a way to deliver the majority of the same features to all mobile platforms that offer a rich Web browsing experience.

Also, come summertime, I anticipate that Apple and the iPhone will lose a significant amount of their market share in the United States as the two-year contracts for iPhone 3G buyers start to expire. AT&T's astoundingly poor performance in major markets will drive customers to other networks and other devices-unless Apple makes the iPhone available to another carrier, as is widely anticipated to occur sometime in 2010.

Senior Analyst Andrew Garcia can be reached at