10 likely nightmares for 2014

From China hacking the cloud to Oracle becoming open source enemy No. 1, these dark predictions should be allowed to marinate slowly

I've already told you what not to expect in the coming year. With any luck, you've been lulled into a false sense of security, confirmed in your lazy belief that nothing important ever really changes. Great! I've totally set you up for the shocking revelations to come.

1. PC vendor consolidation

Shocking, I tell you! Actually, this has been a trend for a long time, with Acer buying Gateway and eMachines almost a decade ago and Hewlett-Packard buying Compaq before that. In a down market where PC unit shipments and prices continue to fall, something's gotta give. One unlikely scenario: HP and Lenovo create a goliath and plot for world domination. A more realistic expectation would be for HP or Lenovo to purchase Acer or Asus. I can also imagine Acer purchasing Asus -- a redocking with the mothership, given that Asus was founded by former Acer employees and has been struggling. Either way, there will be fewer choices for businesses, but probably not higher prices in the near term.

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2. Trans-Pacific Partnership

One of many U.S. trade agreements being done in secret, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is giving extrajudicial enforcement powers to corporations. If you were concerned about the surveillance state in 2013, you're going to love what the government is doing on your behalf in 2014. TPP back-doors some of the SOPA and PIPA stuff we protested and Wikipedia blacked out for in 2012, but without all of the inconvenient democratic process. The Obama administration is looking to fast-track this through Congress. If it doesn't succeed this time, the administration will back-door this junk in some other agreement.

3. China will hack the cloud and get caught

Frankly, if the U.S. government weren't hacking us, we'd all be still focused on the Chinese government-sponsored hackers. Chances are they've already hacked some of your favorite IaaS and PaaS vendors; we're just waiting for them to get caught again.

4. Oracle will replace Microsoft as open source enemy No. 1

Oracle has quickly shed much of Sun Microsystems' open source portfolio and actively lobbied the government not to use open source solutions. Microsoft has adopted a more inclusive strategy for Windows Azure than it did or does for its desktop platform. Of course, both are anti-open source, but Ballmer's departure, the state of Microsoft today, and its current "embrace and extend" strategy toward open source requires a calm period. Microsoft lawyers tend to semi-quietly sue everyone for patents and settle under NDA whether the target is open source or not.

Oracle, however, is always a bull in a china shop, and no one has ever accused Larry Ellison of subtlety. Whether Microsoft just doesn't do enough to stay No. 1 on every Gnubeard's list or Oracle kicks it up a notch, look for the latter to take the crown. Meanwhile, I'm reading this 2011 obvious PR plant article and marking off items one by one.

5. The NSA will be hacked

The NSA is vacuuming up an awful lot of data and putting it in big collections. Does anyone really believe the rest of the world will resist that honeypot or the NSA will do enough to protect it? I'm betting this blows up into a fiasco. When Anonymous publishes the list of senators next to their favorite porn sites, I think we might start to see the NSA reined in.

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