A Web OS
Even as Microsoft encroached on Google’s turf, the search giant took a bold step into Microsoft’s backyard. Google’s browser, Chrome, evolved into a complete operating system, as the search giant continued to press into ever-broader areas of computing technology (“An Operating System for the Cloud”). The Chrome OS isn’t yet available to the public, but there have been some early indications of the radical approach that Google has taken (“Hints of How Google’s OS Will Work” and “Google Gives a First Look at the Chrome OS”).
Google’s vision relies on the power of Web applications and sophisticated browser technology. New browser features will make it easier to work both online and off, to handle heavier processing tasks, and to incorporate multimedia into the browser without plug-ins (“An Upgrade for the Web”).
Businesses everywhere were still fascinated by the promised convenience and cost savings of cloud computing (“Technology Overview: Conjuring Clouds”). But as companies began adopting the technology this year, kinks that still need to be worked out revealed themselves (“Industry Challenges: The Standards Question”). Companies have found it difficult to move data between different cloud services, even though some startups are now offering solutions (“Virtual Apps Drift Into the Cloud” and “Moving Data around the Clouds”). Security has been another worry (“Vulnerability Seen in Amazon’s Cloud Computing”). And some companies turned to different kinds of cloud computing that offer greater security and control (“A More Secure, Trustworthy Cloud” and “Big Blue Sees Clouds on the Horizon”).
Another of the year’s big trends was the growth of online streaming media. This is one reason that downloading copyrighted material over file-sharing networks seems to be on the way out (“Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Usurped by Streaming Video”). Much excitement was also generated over a streaming media project called OnLive, which promises to bring high-end video games to users whose devices don’t have the processing power to handle the advanced graphics (“Moving Video Games to the Clouds”).
Companies in a variety of media industries have also looked for ways to use piracy to make money off content (“Embracing Piracy”). And the music industry sought entirely new ways to sell music online (“Can Video Games Be the New MTV?” and “What Will Happen to Lala’s Music Plans?”).