year, new challenges, new
opportunities in the tech sector
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
9-15, 2007; issue 898
High Tech Office column;
Coming your way in 2007: Microsoft
Office 2007/Vista. You’re going to have to deal with these
year, but no one is in a big hurry. While both products offer some real
improvements, Microsoft hasn’t made a strong case for either
being a particularly must-have upgrade. And the new Office in
particular is going to cause problems for businesses, both for a new
interface, which will require training, and for new file default
formats, which will cause chaos and confusion as new Office users send
apparently-unreadable files to Office-classic users.
Vista, the replacement for Windows XP will cause less trauma, but,
again, while users might remain unconvinced of the need to upgrade,
Microsoft’s clout and contracts with hardware manufacturers
ensure that both Windows Vista and Office 2007 will start showing up on
new computers in your home and workplace in 2007. I’ve seen
estimated sales of 95 million computers in 2007 with Vista
pre-installed. You might end up with one of them.
Get used to it.
This pair of Microsoft products may, however, be the last of
Microsoft’s blockbuster upgrades. Not because users will
en masse, to either Linux or Mac (though many users would be better off
if they did, and could make either shift relatively painlessly), but
because Microsoft’s nightmare of the late 1990s is finally
to pass. Increasingly, big operating systems and big software
application packages are becoming irrelevant as more and more services
are available online and most users at work and at home have access to
I now rely on free web-based services for e-mail, calendar and contact
information, making these accessible from any computer or smart phone
running any operating system anywhere in the world.
are offering web-based word processing and spreadsheets. The world is
not yet throwing away Microsoft Office and moving to those services,
but the long-term trends don’t favour the software dinosaurs.
A number of other big companies seemed to have lost their mojo in 2006,
whose year started with a music division that had installed rootkits on
millions of customers’ hard drives, moved on with Sony-made
batteries, recalled by major laptop manufacturers and ended with the
lacklustre release of the company’s PS/3 game system:
hardware that isn’t available due to a shortage of
next-generation Blu-Ray lasers.
And then there’s Dell
which, when it wasn’t recalling laptops because of their
exploding batteries simply lost its focus. Try to order a Dell online.
Can you wade through the multitude of options?
I bought a new Dell this year, but getting to the end of the order
process was a struggle. Ironically, HP
which should have suffered in 2006 after it dumped its CEO and was
found to have been spying on its own board members, managed to pass
Dell and regain first place in U.S. sales.
Will Sony and Dell get back on track in 2007? Tune in this time next
year to find out.
release a new version of its Mac operating system in the spring.
Code-named Leopard, replacing Tiger, which replaced Jaguar.
be nice, and some more Windows users fed up with security hassles and
won over by a combination of cute TV ads and iPod ownership will move
to Mac. But business will remain a Windows monoculture, so most users
In the end, the trend to watch in 2007 will be storage.
Increasingly cheap storage, available both online and in pocket-sized
portable formats will power changes in the way we use technology. Store
your data online or take it with you in your cellphone, music player,
digital camera or on increasingly-high capacity pocketable drives. With
data available (securely) anywhere, even laptops become increasingly
unnecessary, except to watch movies during trips.