Welcome to 2012! Once again, I’ve been remiss in keeping this blog updated, but I’ll try to do better this year. Remember you can always follow the latest from my Fatal Exception blog for InfoWorld in the box to the right!
My first feature article of the year is another piece for InfoWorld. This time, I’m looking at up-and-coming programming languages. You’ve heard of C, Java, Python, Ruby, and maybe even Haskell, OCaml, and Scala … but have you ever heard of Zimbu, Fantom, Chapel, or haXe? Probably not — but you may, soon. Some people say we already have more than enough programming languages. Others say the computing field is changing so rapidly that the same old languages can’t move fast enough, and the only way for developers to gain the agility they need is to start over from scratch. In this feature, I look at ten experimental programming languages, why they were invented, where you can get them, and why they matter.
Seven years after its IPO, Google is entering the next phase of its growth as a company. It’s impressively large by anyone’s standards, with $29.3 billion in revenue in 2010, nearly 30,000 full-time employees, and offices in 42 countries. And yet Larry Page, now Google’s CEO for the first time since 2001, still seems to view the company as a cross between a startup and his old Stanford University grad project. It’s neither, and it faces difficult challenges. The legal environment around Google is tightening even as it goes head-to-head with the industry’s largest companies, and the changes it must make to remain competitive may mean tomorrow’s Google little resembles the fun-loving Silicon Valley darling of yesteryear. Read on for the rest of my analysis of Google and the road it must travel, this week at InfoWorld.com.
One of Google’s many big ideas is Chrome OS, an operating system that essentially is a Web browser — nothing less, but nothing more. A Chrome OS computer, called a Chromebook, can’t install any software and it has very limited processing power and onboard storage. All the applications you use on a Chromebook are running “in the cloud,” which is to say they’re Web apps. Acer and Samsung are now shipping Chromebooks, and I recently spent some time working with Samsung’s latest model to see whether it has a place within my normal computing workday. The results weren’t particularly encouraging, unfortunately, though I think a Chromebook can be useful as a secondary way to access the Web around the home or office. Click through to InfoWorld.com to read my full run-down of the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 and how it stacked up in my tests.
I realize I’m way behind on my shameless self-promotion, so I thought this time I’d better double up!
First up, an article that addresses the old saw that open source software only imitates existing proprietary software, rather than innovating new concepts. Microsoft loves to throw that idea around, but it really doesn’t hold much water. To prove it, I dug around to find a collection of active open source projects that really don’t have any proprietary software analogues. Click through to learn more about innovative open source in 2010.
Next we turn our gaze forward. Considering how far we’ve come since the beginning of the PC era, it’s always hard to predict what will come next. Rather than presaging any massive tech revolutions, then, InfoWorld decided to look to the near term, by examining up and coming technologies now in the labs. Are you ready for seven-gigabit WiFi or racetrack memory? Read on.
The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) is hard at work on HTML5, the new revamp of the Web markup language that promises unprecedented multimedia capabilities and better support for Web applications. Some developers even hope the new language will free them from reliance on proprietary plug-ins such as Flash and Silverlight. Are they right? Just what are the advantages of HTML5, and equally important, when will it be ready to use? My latest feature for InfoWorld, “What to expect from HTML5,” covers all this and more. Take a gander and let me know what you think.
In 2007, venture capitalist Paul Graham declared “Microsoft is dead.” He later posted a clarification of his comment, but the gist remained the same: Microsoft, far from being a driving force for innovation in the technology industry, had become a lumbering dinosaur. It wouldn’t disappear — it was far too big for that — but it had become an irrelevant company.
Bold words, but I hear them echoed a lot lately. Microsoft, people argue, has made most of its money through underhanded business dealings and by driving its competitors out of the market. Its products aren’t competitive because it doesn’t need to compete. It’s the largest company in its industry today simply because it was the largest company in its industry yesterday; no other reason.
I’m not sure I agree. There’s a new challenger in town — Google — and there’s every sign that its presence in the market has given Microsoft a much-needed kick in the pants. Ray Ozzie, Bill Gates’ successor as Microsoft’s chief software architect, has put in motion an ambitious plan designed to beat Google on every front — and it just might work. Read my complete analysis in my latest article at InfoWorld.com. This one’s a biggie (single-page version here) but I think it will be worth your while.
Google’s at it again. Surely no company is as adept at generating buzz for something it hasn’t actually done yet. It’s already well-known for keeping products in perpetual Beta until its marketing department decides the time is right to drop the label. This time, the “news” is all about Chrome OS — a product that isn’t in beta, isn’t ready for anybody to use, but will be changing the nature of computing itself real soon now. (And by “real soon now,” Google means no sooner than next year.)
InfoWorld was invited to participate in the press conference, so they sent me down to check it out. You can read my coverage at InfoWorld.com (and on various other sites, via IDG Syndication).
I can’t say I’m totally convinced. The idea of an instant-on Web browser appliance is interesting, but Google isn’t the first to propose it. After all, don’t a lot of people use iPhones for that? And while Apple has backed away from its stance that all iPhone apps should be based on the Safari browser, Google continues to insist that the future of all computing lies on the Web. Sorry, but I just don’t see the trend being as “very, very clear” as Google’s Sundar Pichai claims it is.
Nonetheless, I’ll be following this project with great interest, and you can expect more coverage from InfoWorld as details emerge.
My latest feature article for InfoWorld is a look at how competition is heating up in the chip market for mobile devices. With sales of traditional PCs and servers slowing and customers increasingly turning to smartphones and other devices to access the Internet, Intel is off in search of new markets. But to win share, Intel will have to compete with an unlikely contender — one far removed from Intel’s Silicon Valley stomping grounds.
ARM Holdings of Cambridge, UK has been manufacturing power-efficient chips for the embedded systems and digital device markets since the mid-1980s. Intel hopes to win away ARM’s customers with its newest, low-voltage Atom CPUs. But to do that, it will have to contend with a company whose business model is substantially different from the Intel Way. Click on over to read how the contest is shaping up, and be sure to leave your comments.
The idea that someday we’ll be doing all our computing in a Web browser is gaining traction, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to do all your daily office tasks online? I did, too, so I set out to see whether I could replace Microsoft Office with any of the current generation of Web-based office suites. I looked at Google Docs, Zoho, and thanks to an invitation to Microsoft’s Technical Preview program, the forthcoming Office 2010 Web Apps. The results are up at InfoWorld, but I should warn you: They weren’t all positive. Click the link to read about the good and the bad, and see if you want to try for yourself.