It's a tough job, playing pundit. Imagine how much tougher it would be if we were actually expected to get it right! No wonder we tech columnists like to spend the end of the year making predictions. Even if our accuracy falls somewhere short of a stopped clock, no one will remember our prognostications by this time next year anyway.
But unlike some other columns, the Fatal Exception blog stands for accountability. The proverbial euro stops here. So before I turn my crystal ball to the coming year, I thought it would be appropriate to first look back on my predictions for 2009 to see what I got right, what I got wrong -- and what I missed completely.
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Microsoft warmed to open source -- sort of
After years of butting heads with the open standards movement, Microsoft's proprietary technologies were losing ground to Web-based alternatives in 2008. The software giant needed a brand makeover, badly -- and it especially needed to improve its image among developers.
That's why I predicted Microsoft would continue to cozy up to the open source community throughout 2009, and I was right -- in a way. Among other initiatives, Microsoft contributed 20,000 lines of driver code to the Linux kernel, released the code to the .Net Micro Framework under an open source license, and funded the CodePlex Foundation to encourage corporate participation in open source projects.
Then again, these efforts were mostly self-serving. The Linux driver code was needed to improve Linux performance under Windows Server's Hyper-V virtualization. The .Net Micro Framework has yet to gain traction in the increasingly competitive mobile development market, so open-sourcing it was mostly a punt. And critics say the CodePlex Foundation is structured in a way that gives Microsoft too much influence.
I was also too optimistic when I predicted we'd see Linux ports of major Microsoft products. Instead, Sam Ramji, Microsoft's leading open source advocate, left the company -- and a quick search of the Microsoft Careers site reveals plenty of positions open for foot soldiers in the war against Linux, OpenOffice.org, and open source in general. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.