IT people, places and things that matter

For their ability to draw your attention, these 10 people, places and things stand out as newsmakers that matter

What makes a top newsmaker? Sometimes a company generates lots of buzz by doing particularly innovative things, or someone with a catalyzing personality gains notoriety. Other times a hot new product or a spectacular disaster gets the attention of the masses.

The subjects made popular by Network World readers over the past year are all of these things and more. Sometimes lauded for technology vision, scorned for lapses in judgment, and loved or hated for setting a new standard, these are the 10 biggest newsmakers of 2007 and why they matter.

The Googleplex

"Search engine giant" once summed up Google's business pretty well, but those words now seem woefully inadequate to describe the company that in 2007 delivered a hosted software suite for enterprise users, conceived a mobile application platform that is device- and operator-agnostic, made plans to bid for wireless spectrum, and forayed into the TV ad-serving world.

One thing Google didn't do was deliver the GPhone, a mobile phone the company was widely rumored to have had under development. Instead, it unveiled the open mobile application-development platform, called Android. In so doing, it really shook up the telecom industry, where closed platforms and operator lock-in are the norm, not broad alliances and a US$10 million bounty for the best mobile applications.

Meanwhile, Google continued to add firepower to its advertising empire, putting up US$3.1 billion to acquire ad-management player DoubleClick. With all this action, it's little wonder that Google receives 1,300 resumes every day. Who wouldn't want to work in its Mountain View, California, corporate campus -- the famed "Googleplex" -- where employees enjoy 11 free cafeterias, on-site car washes, salon, gym, language classes, laundry facilities and more?

Steve Ballmer, the voice of Microsoft

Steve Ballmer didn't disappoint folks hoping to hear inflammatory statements and corporate bravado from Microsoft's CEO in 2007. He angered the open source community by saying Red Hat Linux uses intellectual property owned by Microsoft and that Red Hat's customers should pay Microsoft for it. He dissed the iPhone, saying it would never grab significant market share, and belittled the significance of Google's Android mobile application development platform, suggesting it was no more than a press release.

In between the snipes, Ballmer had plenty of Microsoft products to talk about, starting with the consumer release of Vista and Office 2007 in January. The year also saw the release of Office Communications Server -- Microsoft's VoIP play -- along with two enterprise search products, a virtual machine management tool and an unexpected stand-alone hypervisor called Hyper-V Server.

What didn't make store shelves is Longhorn. After Microsoft shipped the first public Longhorn beta in the spring, it pushed back the final release, christened Windows Server 2008, to next year.

On the acquisition front, Microsoft made its most expensive purchase ever, spending US$6 billion for online advertising platform aQuantive in a move that Ballmer said represents "the next step in the evolution of our ad network."

Vonage goes to court ... again and again

What was 2007 like for Vonage In a word: litigious. Patent lawsuits from Verizon, Sprint Nextel, AT&T, and in late December, Nortel, kept the Internet phone provider in the headlines and threatened to end its business. One particularly low point came in April just after a federal jury found Vonage infringed on three Verizon patents related to transferring voice calls from an IP network to a traditional telephone network. After the ruling a U.S. district court judge barred Vonage from signing up new customers -- which could have spelled death for the company had it not successfully fought for a permanent stay from the injunction.

In the end, Vonage managed to reach settlements with Verizon, Sprint Nextel and AT&T, but not before Michael Snyder resigned as CEO and founder Jeffrey Citron took over the role. In terms of IOUs, Vonage is paying US$120 million to settle its dispute with Verizon. It reached an US$80 million licensing agreement with Sprint, and inked a tentative agreement with AT&T whereby it will pay US$39 million in exchange for AT&T dropping its suit.

But the numbers aren't all bad for Vonage. It managed to grow revenue to US$210.5 million in its most recent quarter, a gain of 30% over the year-earlier quarter. Not bad for a company that very well could have slipped under for good.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ann Bednarz

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?