Technology is on the cusp of an incredible breakthrough -- or a major funk. It's hard to tell, but it’s feeling more like the latter. If you look at all the major vendors (Apple, Microsoft, and Google), you see more of the same old same old.
Microsoft recently released Windows 10, which brings back a version of the old Start menu (people want what they are comfortable with). It's a win with users apparently, as 75 million PCs are already running it.
Office 2016 is coming up soon, and while I hope to see interesting new features in the suite, I don’t anticipate a morphing of the applications or anything as revolutionary -- and reviled -- as the ribbon (which I actually like).
Windows Server 2016 and some of the other on-premises server tools are going live (including Exchange 2016 and SharePoint 2016) with improvements to stability and performance, as well as a new feature here or there, but nothing mind-blowing.
I could say, "Look to the cloud," for all amazing creativity, but much of what I see is stuff we did on-premises but now moved to a new location. There is innovation, certainly, but the cloud industry is in the repositioning/hybrid phase, and IT is bogged down at the moment in "should I or shouldn’t I" on moving to the cloud -- as well as the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that comes with it.
You could look sideways to Apple and hope for better, but I think my editor and colleague Galen Gruman summed up Apple's recent announcements well: "quite hollow and uncomplying." And he’s an Apple fan! When he looked at all the so-called enhancements with the new iPhones, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and iPad, he wrote, “none moves the needle in interesting, compelling ways.” I like some of the new iPhone features like live photos and 3D touch, and I could see real value to the Apple Watch from a medical perspective, but I appreciate his point: nothing new.
Even when Microsoft came out with the new thing this year in HoloLens (which we have yet to see in real-world environs), there was no bleeding-edge response from the Apple side.
We could debate the issue, but instead let’s embrace it. A friend likes to say, “Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.” I mock him mercilessly when he says it, but he’s right (in this case). So much technology moving so quickly doesn’t give developers a chance to catch their breath and come up with something truly interesting and new. Eventually, the hardware has to settle in and let people find their true use for it.
I think we’re in for a year or more of nuances: Minor mods and tweaks; a full shift to subscription-based operating systems and major apps, with Microsoft leading the way; a continuation of minor tweaks to devices by all the major tech providers (Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Samsung and the other Android vendors).
There's nothing mind-blowing that I can see coming in 2016.
Am I wrong? By all means tell me what exciting thing I’m missing in the comments below.