A decade in IT: the misery continues

WinLoser: Wikipedia
What can we say about Wikipedia that hasn’t already been said a trillion times everywhere else? It is very amusing when distinguished journalists rely on the cyclopaedia as a place to learn stuff. It is a most popular site, that is for sure – and some good information is on there. But, you wouldn’t pay for it, would you?

Ebay: Hey
Yeah. you can buy replacement plates and hotels in Kabul on Ebay. Enough, or should it be eNough said.

Winner: Apple iPhone
Apple has an almost sainted reputation about it. But Saint Steve Jobs iPhone has really done very very well. You see them everywhere except in the sticks. They must be successful because every other vendor and its dog are copying the design without actually copying them, of course.

Winner: Windows XP
XP is the clear winner in the OS category simply because it’s the most ubiquitous operating system on the planet.

Even people who hate Microsoft admit that XP is actually rather good.

It’s the OS that Linux fanbois secretly use on the rare occasions they actually want to do some actual work.

A large part of the reason for Vista’s slow take-off was the huge XP customer base perfectly happy with the venerable OS. Now whiskery old XP looks set to live on into a second decade through Windows 7’s Virtual PC which enables a full version of XP Pro to run in a window under its grandchild.

Winner: Microsoft Office
It may have been through four major versions in the last decade – not all of them strictly necessary – and with a fifth due next year, but there can be no successful company anywhere on the planet that doesn’t rely on Office.

Word and Excel are surely the most successful applications of all time and although PowerPoint is pretty much universally hated, that’s more down to the creative skills of the junior photocopier salesmen who rely on it rather than any failing on the part of the product itself.

Every part of Office, from the flagship apps to the humble photo editor, work perfectly and integrate seamlessly. Despite the anguished cries I can already hear from the open source community, nothing else even comes close.

Winner: SMS
SMS text messaging was developed by Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen. This widely-used communication service allows the interchange of short text messages between various mobile telephone devices. ??The cost-effective standard has encouraged billions of people around the world to stop talking and furiously thumb their Blackberries or feverishly tap the screens of shiny iPhones.

Winner: Segway
The two-wheeled Segway is not just for nerds. Well, OK, maybe it has become popular with a specific population – but one can’t blame inventor Dean Kamen for that. The Segway uses computers and motors to keep itself upright, as users lean forward, backward, left or right. The vehicle is capable of achieving a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour (20.1 km/h), with top performance reported on  sidewalks and properly paved streets. ??

Loser: Symantec
It takes some doing, but Symantec finally managed it – turning the most respected name in PC tools into a complete bag of crap.

People who swore by Norton Utilities and Norton Antivirus at the beginning of the decade now swear at the resource-hungry, malware-ridden abortions that carry the Symantec name today. The licensing renewal system simply doesn’t work and anyone who’s ever tried to uninstal NAV will tell you it’s harder to get rid of than herpes.

Where did it all go wrong? Was it a complete inability to provide a reliable service for downloadable products rather than shipping stuff on CD, or was it simply replacing Peter Norton on the packaging with anonymous people from the Kwik-E-Mart Modeling Agency that did it?

Loser: Transmeta Crusoe
It all sounded so lovely – a processor that would enable a notebook capable of running continually for 24 hours without recharging.

But sadly, Crusoe, for all its elegant code morphing and LongRun power management, simply lacked the performance to deliver a decent user experience and completely missed the power consumption point – that the CPU uses a mere fraction of the power budget of a laptop PC.

While Transmeta’s mobile chip was undoubtedly more efficient in terms of conserving battery power than anything then on offer from AMD or Intel, it completely ignored two fundamental facts of mobile life: that the processor accounts for much less than 50 percent of the total power budget of a laptop; and that most laptops spend over 75 percent of their lives plugged into the mains supply.

At the time, Intel reckoned that if a laptop used a total of around nine Watts, a mobile PIII accounted for just two of them. Even with the processor in deep sleep (as it was most of the time), a considerable amount of electricity was still required. So who cared whether the CPU was a Crusoe, AMD K6 or Pentium III? The answer was, of course, nobody.

Loser: Windows Vista
This rather infamous iteration of Microsoft’s Windows operating system inspired a few to become loyal disciples of Saint Stephen Jobs and worship his shiny line of overpriced Macs. Indeed, Vista was termed “bloatware” by many users, who loudly criticized higher system requirements, endless security popups and controversial digital rights management restrictions. But it wasn’t all bad – at least it wasn’t Windows ME.

Winner: Online Journalism – loser print journalism

See Also
Part one