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December 29, 2010

The Year Ahead for IT

With 2010 about to come to an end, what new tools and technologies can IT pros expect to see in the year ahead?

Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft (News - Alert) will release the next flavor of its Web browser next year. Currently in beta, IE9 has been streamlined and overhauled from version 8. The beta has already received kudos for its better support of Web standards, an area where Microsoft has been lacking in the past. In particular, IE9 is trying to get ahead of the curve by supporting HTML5. Though it has been shedding some market share to other browsers, such as Firefox and Chrome, IE still dominates, especially in the enterprise arena. So a new version is always something that IT pros will need to evaluate.

Firefox 4

Joining IE9 in 2011 will be the next version of Mozilla’s browser for those of you running or thinking of running Firefox at your organization. Initially slated to launch this year, Firefox 4 was pushed back to next year as Mozilla has had to tackle certain compatibility issues. With a market share second only to IE, Firefox has grown in popularity and adoption over the past few years. I work with a couple of content management systems that are only compatible with Firefox, so a new version of the browser will be another item of interest to developers and IT staffers.

Google’s Chrome OS

Google (News - Alert) hopes to raises the stakes in the operating system arena by unveiling Chrome OS, a new cloud-based system designed to run on mobile PCs. The new OS is unlikely to make much of a dent against the overwhelming market share of Windows. But it could prove an interesting niche for consumers and businesses looking for notebooks geared specifically toward working on the Web.


Companies who already have or are thinking of adopting the iPhone (News - Alert) as their corporate smartphone will have a couple of new options next year. Apple will release its next-generation iPhone 5 in the summer. But before that, Verizon is expected to launch its own iPhone for consumers and companies who’ve been avoiding AT&T (News - Alert) as their carrier. The BlackBerry is still the smartphone of choice for many security-conscious businesses, but the iPhone will become even more ubitquitous in 2011.


Though the iPad has been an unqualified hit in the consumer market, it’s also been paving its way into the enterprise arena. The iPad 2 is expected to debut in the first half of 2011, offering several new and improved features. As such, iPad-happy employees may be even more eager to use the popular tablet on the job.

Tablet Fever

Trying to jump on the coattails of the iPad will be a potpourri of other tablets debuting in 2011. Just a few companies that hope to join the tablet market are Research In Motion with its BlackBerry (News - Alert) Playbook, HP with its webOS tablet, and Samsung with its Galaxy Tab. Running either Windows or Android, the new tablets will give consumers and IT pros plenty of choices to consider beyond the iPad.

Finally, some rumors say Microsoft may manage to squeeze in a beta of Windows 8 before 2011 is over. If so, that will give those of you in IT an early look at the next version of Windows to see how it fares against Windows 7.

Whatever 2011 holds in store, I wish a peaceful and prosperous year to you all!

Lance Whitney is a journalist, IT consultant, and Web Developer with almost 20 years of experience in the IT world. To read more of Lance's articles, please visit his columnist page

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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