2006 could be a big
year for big tech companies
Alan Zisman (c) 2006 First published in Business
in Vancouver January
17-23, 2006; issue 847 High Tech Office
Looking ahead, 2006 promises to be an
interesting year for some of the major players in the high tech office.
It will be a big year for product
releases from Microsoft.
This year holds promise of a new version of the company's Internet
Explorer Web browser, with (hopefully) better security and tabs just
like the open source Firefox. Also upcoming: an anti-virus and
anti-spyware security service now being tested as Microsoft OneCare;
the next version of Microsoft Office (currently known as Office 12)
with a new menu-less interface and new file formats; and the next
generation Windows Vista - this has been the longest time between major
Windows updates in its 20-year history. And in case the upgrade market
remains sluggish, look for more clarity in the company's online
services plans: Windows Live and Office Live.
Intel stumbled through 2005
watching its smaller rival AMD outdo it with a series of
computer processors delivering better 64-bit performance and backward
addition, AMD did a better job of bringing multi-core processors
(offering the power of two CPUs in a single chip) to market. (CNet
recently compared AMD's Athlon 64x2 and Intel Pentium dual core-based
systems and rated AMD's product ahead in seven out of seven areas
tested). As a result, all the major PC manufacturers (except Dell)
now include AMD-powered systems in their product lineups.
The only area where Intel maintained
a lead was in power-conserving notebook processors.
for Intel to work hard in 2006 to regain the technology edge and to
pitch its energy-efficient notebook processors into the desktop market,
while building on its long-successful "Intel Inside" advertising
hooked its star on the Intel bandwagon last year, promising that in
2006 users would be able to buy Apple-branded computers running Mac OS
X built around (not yet released) high performing, energy efficient
Like a technology equivalent of Brad
Pitt, Apple is always subject to online rumours.
the rumour sites are divided over whether we can expect to see these
first "Mactel" models to premiere at the mid-January MacWorld
conference or whether they'll make their debut later in the year
We may see the beginnings of a Google
backlash this year, as the company continues to offer a host of half
thought-out projects that lack a clear revenue model. In an end-of-2005
deal, Google bought a modest stake in AOL, paying both cash and
a promise to bump AOL links up in Google search results. This may lead
some to look for another, more seemingly objective search engine. No
obvious alternatives are waiting in the wings, however.
Rival Yahoo had a busy 2005,
making a number of acquisitions (including local startup Flickr)
but seems more interested in being everyone's favourite Web portal than
in fighting Google for Web-search mindshare.
for more and more software to be made available online, whether sold by
subscription by big names like Microsoft or by a host of smaller
companies, including a good assortment of local developers.