2008 IT forecasts: XP lives and the greening of tech

Will IT become green? Who will be hacking whom? What inroads will Linux make and will Microsoft give XP users a reprieve? Read on to find out what we think about these issues and more.

The predictable flood of 2008 IT prognostications has rolled in over the past few weeks and we have listened to analysts, vendors, consultants and our geek friends, accepting some forecasts and rejecting others. Turns out we did pretty well culling the wheat from the chaff last year and gazing ahead, though maybe we weren't bold enough in our declarations. So, this year we'll stretch a little and predict:

XP's reprieve

Microsoft will announce an extension until the end of 2008 for Windows XP availability, instead of cutting it off on June 30. In September '07, the company pushed the extension from the end of January until June after corporate users complained. Not to mention that many companies had decided to put off moving to Vista. The migration will continue to be slow for at least the first half of 2008.

Who's hacking whom?

A major international incident will erupt when Chinese hackers compromise the defense or security system (or both) of another government. Classified documents will be breached. Accusations will be traded. Relationships will be tense and ugly for a time.

The greening of IT

"Green" IT will become a sustainable model in the enterprise. The bottom line will be the primary force in the greening of data centers and offices. Environmental concerns (spurred by weird weather occurrences and alarming reports about polar bears) coupled with a woeful economic scene globally will be dominant themes in 2008, leading to corporate, consumer and government action that will include serious penny-pinching as more of us come together to try to save the planet and our budgets.

The European Union will again be the main governmental force behind pushing green regulations in 2008.

Network evolution

Mobile networks will not only open up to outside handsets, devices and applications, but will increasingly offer Wi-Fi and a plethora of location-based services. Media content, search, social networks, shopping and a variety of services will all be standard parts of the mobile network experience.

Networks "have to evolve in very radical ways," says Jake Seid, Lightspeed Venture Partners general partner, mobile. How radical has yet to be seen, but analysts aplenty envision 2008 as a watershed year for networks to be opened and for big changes on the mobile landscape, partly owing to the iPhone effect.

A Linux year

As Vista continues to limp toward wider adoption, Linux will make major inroads into the enterprise, as well as in government IT. At the same time, the leaner OS will become a more attractive option for home users and in consumer electronics, spurred by the Open Handset Alliance and the advent of Google's Android mobile platform, which will be built on the Linux kernel. Jim Zemlin, the president of the Linux Foundation, sees 2008 as a "really interesting, breakthrough year for Linux," and we think he's right about that. Expect assorted open-source applications to follow along.

Growing pains of social networking

Social networking will invade corporations by year's end. Services akin to the Salesforce.com offering that lets salespeople share leads and information will become standard in that market segment. But increasingly, social-networking applications will seep into all manner of companies, whether the IT department likes it or not. "It will be driven more by individual adoptions," predicts Konstantin Guericke, co-founder of LinkedIn and CEO of Jaxtr. "We're social beings -- we like to see what our peers are doing."

Privacy issues will have to be sorted out. The brouhaha over Facebook's Beacon ad system won't be the last situation to cause outcry by any stretch, because social-networking sites will continue to push the envelope. Users will push back. Legislation and regulations will be proposed and enacted. Which leads us to ...

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Nancy Weil

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