2006 Year in Review: Hits and Misses

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2006-12-17 Email Print this article Print

Analysis: It was a year full of transitions and surprises, and the next year looks likely to bring more of the same. Here's a look at some of eWEEK's most interesting stories from 2006.

There is little if any status quo in the technology business, and that fact was on full display in 2006.

Stalwarts such as Bill Gates and Scott McNealy took a back seat after decades of leading their companies; Dell, which seemed unstoppable over the past few years as other OEMs struggled, found its own share of troubles and saw its three-year lead in PC market share go to Hewlett-Packard; and Microsoft negotiated a partnership with Linux player and former archenemy Novell.

These transitions promise to continue into next year as the second (consumer) half of Microsoft's Windows Vista rolls out; chip makers continue their multicore push; and Oracle keeps growing, thanks to its voracious appetite for acquisitions. Here are eWEEK's most interesting stories from 2006:

Open Source Goes Big-Time

In short order in the last quarter of the year, big vendors made big strides in the open-source space, which could turn out to be good news for big customers.

Oracle announced in October that it will offer full support for the RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) operating system, a move CEO Larry Ellison told the audience at the OpenWorld show was designed to help address what he said is a key problem in Linux adoption: a lack of "true enterprise support for Linux."

The following month, Microsoft and Novell announced a set of collaboration agreements that includes patent protection for each other's customers and for their respective products. Officials at the two companies said all the right things at the announcement of the controversial deal, but Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer couldn't keep from getting a dig in at Novell, implying that the deal is an acknowledgment by Novell that Linux infringes on Microsoft intellectual property. The two companies later agreed to disagree on that point.

Red Hat officials saw the Oracle and Microsoft deals as attacks on their company. Marc Fleury, senior vice president and general manager of JBoss, said the moves were made to counter Red Hat's purchase of JBoss but added that the Microsoft-Novell deal was "a lot more clever than the one from Oracle, which was a 'for show' move."

Also in November, Sun Microsystems, which has been releasing hardware and software to the open-source community for several years, finally released all versions of Java, fulfilling the desires of many developers during Java's 11 years in existence.

Security Woes

For those in the business of protecting IT from the host of dangers lurking out there, the news in 2006 wasn't good. Hackers are getting more organized and sophisticated, and so is the technology they're using.

Microsoft and the University of Michigan teamed up to create prototypes of virtual-machine-based rootkits that could be used to hide malware and maintain control of an operating system, introducing another threat into the picture.

Not long after that, a Microsoft security official admitted that recovering from malware programs and some types of spyware may become impossible without wiping out hard drives and reinstalling the operating systems. Offensive rootkits—which are increasingly being used to hide malware and spyware—can avoid detection, so IT administrators can never really be sure if all traces of the rootkits have been removed, said Mike Danseglio, program manager in the Security Solutions group at Microsoft, in a presentation at InfoSec World in April.

eWEEK Senior Editor Ryan Naraine reported in October that botnets—collections of broadband-enabled PCs that have been hijacked in virus and worm attacks and used to launch spam, DoS (denial of service) attacks and malware—are becoming more prevalent. Symantec found that 57,000 active bots per day were seen in the first six months of the year and that 4.7 million computers were being used in botnets.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: 2006 Year in Review: Hits and Misses.


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