With another 12 months stretching ahead of us, it's time to take a (hopefully) educated guess at what might happen.
Disappointed at its reception one year on, Microsoft pulls Vista from the market. We'll admit that's not very likely to happen but you can suppose that the company is making serious headway into the planning and development of Vista 2, or whatever it's likely to be called. Panorama?
As we said a year ago, from an enterprise perspective, Vista doesn't register. And we argued that few enterprises were likely to roll it out en masse, and so it has proven. If anything, now the hype dust has settled, attitudes appear to have hardened against the new OS.
The danger for Microsoft is that an upgrade cycle creates opportunities for rivals. Linux is one but, somehow, 2008 doesn't quite look like the year of desktop Linux in the enterprise. Individuals and developers, enthusiasts and power users will undoubtedly continue to flock to the highly configurable, free operating system. But for most, especially those who have to interoperate with Windows users, the switch will remain a step too far. For now.
At the end of 2006, we touted virtualisation as the other rival for Microsoft's desktop crown, in the shape of virtualised desktops running on central servers in the data centre. we argued then, and it remains true, that the number of vendors interested in and selling desktop virtualisation systems is growing. 2007 has seen several launches of various flavours of thin client, for example.
We reckoned a year ago that this could be the year of desktop virtualisation. It hasn't been for a number of reasons, one of which has to be because the data centre today is full. Maybe not so on a physical level but increasingly large numbers of data centre managers are reporting that they 'cannae take any more, captain". In other words, the data centre can't use any more power because it's not possible to pump any more electricity in there -- or because the cost of doing so is horrendous.
But the shape of the virtualisation market is unlikely to change hugely. Although Microsoft's Hyper-V -- its weapon against VMware -- is out next year, it'll be a few months before production deployments start to come onstream -- and that'll be in 2009. Hold on till then to see battle royal joined.
Battle royal has already been joined and will continue to be waged in the blade server market. This lucrative business is the noisiest battlefield in the server business today, with HP and IBM bashing each other with marketing sticks. Mine's better than yours, they cry.
We see continuation of the trends that grew in 2007, with the fight to extract more computing power from within a rigidly confined power envelope becoming an over-arching limitation.
Don't throw away those candles just yet.
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