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Ten Things for the New Year, Part 1

Successful prognosticating is a skill that I don't possess. People increasingly fail to heed my sage but largely incorrect advice on technology, business, and personal affairs, with good reason. There is a mysterious art involved in determining which trends will reach an inflection point worthy of note in the future, and significant skill in determining what that inflection point is and what it means.

That's okay. Most of the people who make predictions are not, in fact, qualified to do so. But that's why I don't call mine predictions. Instead, they are things that should happen, and to a lesser extent, things that I would like to see happen, in the coming year. That way, if they don't happen, I don't look that much like a fool.

Here are the first five.

1. A killer application for Windows Vista is shipped. I have no idea what the killer application may be, but Vista, and the Windows franchise in general, needs a signature event. If I had to choose among graphics, Web services, security, or control for what that killer application will leverage, graphics seems the obvious choice. It is also likely to be a business application, because that is what typically drives big applications on Windows.

2. Open source becomes a universally accepted model for software development. I confess to being skeptical of open source for a long time, not as a technical achievement, but as a viable business model. Last year started to change my thinking, in part because I'm beginning to see how enterprises can leverage open source, and how commercial vendors can make money from it. I've seen the emergence of some good concepts for integrating open source code into projects, and also making open source a cornerstone of a commercial business strategy.

3. Eclipse supports .NET development. There is no reason why this can't happen, and someone will make it happen sooner or later. Why is it important, especially when it can never top Visual Studio in productivity and ease of use? Two reasons. First, developers will have access to a much greater array of tools that are part of the Eclipse ecosystem. Many of them are Java-specific, but an increasing number are platform-neutral or even .NET-focused. Second, developers are increasingly working cross-platform, and the Eclipse architecture has an advantage over Visual Studio for this type of development. This would have to be done by someone who licenses the .NET Framework and SDK from Microsoft, and can build a vision of a cross-platform application lifecycle based on Eclipse.

4. Second Life, or similar avatar-based universe, goes mainstream. This deserves a longer treatment than is possible here, but the ability to create new worlds offers something for everyone – users, developers, and business people. For developers, virtual universes offer an unlimited opportunity to build tools for creating the universe and tools and applications to use within the universe. Think of it as a completely blank slate for building any application you can dream up.

5. OS and application security holes become a thing of the past. No piece of software is perfect, and those who seek out and exploit flaws are highly talented and for some reason dedicated in the task. But developers, testers, and system managers have to spend an inordinate and increasing amount of time trying to make applications, systems, and networks bulletproof when one hundred percent protection simply cannot be guaranteed (and impossible to improve). And increasingly secure systems are also increasingly difficult to use and administer. Too much attention on security is detracting from building quality applications with features users need, and I'd like to see that trend reversed in 2007.

Look for the last five things on my 2007 wish list in a few days.

Posted by Peter Varhol on 01/04/2007

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