2007 in I.T. >  The hottest subject of the last 2 years has been the comeback of a Web browser war, several years after the end of the famous war that once used to face Internet Explorer to the now-defunct Netscape (see the Powhertz news of December 28, 2007). Although the trends established during those two years continued to confirm themselves through 2007, the battle has nonethess dwindled this year. According to the data from NetApplications, Firefox would have gained only 2.34% of the market in 2007, compared to a gain of 4.5% in 2006. For IE, it's a loss of 3.32%, compared to 5.19% in the previous year. With practically no new feature from any of these two major players, it's obvious that Web browsers have gotten much less attention this year.

However, it's been another strong year for another hot subject of the past few years, aquisitions of I.T. companies. Among the most major acquisitions from the fertile year 2007, we note:
Except these takeovers, what has really marked the year 2007 in I.T.? Here's a little top 15:
  1. Definitely, the iPhone! It was total craziness at its first public demo on January 9, at its release in stores on June 29, and everybody is still crazy about it today. Without the shadow of a doubt, the coolest gadget of 2007, maybe even of the decade... if it manages to beat its cousin the iPod!!
  2. Release of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Even if these products have seen a much slower start than their predecessors, it was nonetheless major products awaited for several years that have been finally delivered in early 2007. The opinions on Vista and Office 2007 are very different: some love them, some hate them, some remain completely indifferent. Up to each person to make its own mind.
  3. The completely disproportionned popularity explosion of social Web site Facebook. It was said that in 2007, Facebook would have registered 200,000 new members per day and increased its net profits to more than US$30 million! Worse, the purchase of a 1.6% in the company by Microsoft in October for $240 million means that Facebook would now be valued at the incredible amount of US$15 billion!!! Since nobody will never buy a company for making profit in 500 years (15,000,000,000 divided by 30,000,000), that means without any possible doubt that the market is expected another, even more spectacular explosion of Facebook in the next few years. If only those dumbasses could invest a ridicously small fraction of this value (less than 0.1%) to translate the site in a few major languages (Spanish, German and French would be a minimum), they would increase their value even more!...
  4. Release of Mac OS X 10.5: Leopard, eagerly awaited by Mac computer fans.
  5. Microsoft who lets threats of copyright-infringement lawsuits hang over the open-source community, and takes this opportunity to sign agreements with multiple distributors of Linux.
  6. YouTube that continues to be excessively popular, and adds an automated video-filtering system to calm down the copyright holders who are suing or wanted to sue Google.
  7. For the first time, a domain-name registrar loses its ICANN accreditation! RegisterFly has seen itself forced to quit its main market and transfer its customers' domains to competitor GoDaddy.
  8. Release of the iPod Touch, another cool device in the line of the iPhone.
  9. The fall of the controversial SCO Group, which first lost its legal battle against Novell, then saw value of its share collapse, was forced to place itself under bankruptcy-protection laws, and even saw itself getting delisted from the Nasdaq on December 27.
  10. Addition of panoramic views to Google Maps for several large U.S. cities.
  11. Birth of a Wikipedia with better-controlled information, Citizendium.
  12. Microsoft that goes after the ubiquitous Flash with its Silverlight.
  13. Gmail that became available to all, after an endless beta period during which only people could only register upon an invitation.
  14. Two more new versions of Ubuntu Linux, which increased its lead of distributions of Linux on the "desktop".
  15. IBM that finally shows, very late, an interest for office productivity software with the release of Symphony.

And now, faithful to the tradition, the Powhertz Awards for the software that distinguished the most in their category.

Powhertz Award 2007

Best Web browser

Opera 9.2

At almost each new version of Opera, they come up with a brilliant and extremely useful innovation that makes me say: "how come nobody ever thought about that before!?!". In Opera 9.2, this innovation has been the "Speed Dial". It is both so simple and so, so practical! When I open a new tab, instead of the plain white screen, I get a thumbnail presenting my 9 favorite Web sites. When I click on one of these thumbnails, I am going to that site! Even better: if I'm already on a site and I want to leave for another site that's in my Speed Dial, I don't even need to open a new tab and click with the mouse; I can simply type in the number (from 1 to 9) corresponding to the site I want to go to in the address bar of my active window, press the "Enter" key and bingo! So fast! I use the Speed Dial everyday and I love it. It really does facilitate by Web browsing. Congratulations to Opera for this great idea! My only criticism towards Opera 9.2: its stability under Linux. The Windows version seems much more stable to me, but the Linux version crashes pretty regularly. Fortunately, Opera is so good at automatically saving the state of windows that it's not that bad when Opera crashes; we re-launch Opera, and most of the time we get back exactly where we were before it crashed.

A very serious finalist is Flock 1.0, the "social browser" that tightly integrates with a few Web 2.0 sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. It is one of the most innovative browsers since a very long time. Young people will enjoy this particular approach, but older people in general who are not into "social Web at all" will see absolutely no interest into it. The product still has some maturity to acquire (especially with translations; at the time of writing these lines, Flock in English is at version 1.0.3 while the French version is still at 0.7.14!...), but it's definitely a product to watch.

The only other new browsers of 2007 on the PC have been Safari 3 (under OS X Leopard only, else it's still in beta while I'm writing these lines) and SeaMonkey 1.1, that are not particularly innovative.

Powhertz Award 2007

Best operating system

Ubuntu 7.10: Gutsy Gibbon

You can read the Powhertz file on Gutsy Gibbon for further details on this system that is still far from perfect, but already greatly appreciated! And unlike its main 2 rivals on the market of desktop operating systems, which are quite expensive, this one is free!...

The other operating systems released in 2007 include: Mac OS X 10.5: Leopard (for which there has been lots of user complaints in the beginning, but it has calmed down since Apple released its first series of patches), Windows Vista (for which there still are lots of user complaints even after 11 months!!), Ubuntu 7.04: Feisty Fawn, Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 ("Etch"), Fedora 7 & 8, openSUSE 10.3, Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring & 2008, Slackware 12.0, FreeBSD 6.2, OpenBSD 4.1 & 4.2, and NetBSD 4.0 .

Powhertz Award 2007

Best Internet utility

(note: former category "Best e-mail client" is now merging into the "Best Internet utility" category)
Pidgin 2.0 - 2.3.1

One of the efforts from the open-source community that is not emphasized enough, is multi-protocol instant messaging client Pidgin (formerly gAIM, which has been forced to change its name in April 2007). Of course it is not perfect; it is particularly missing the ability to chat in audio and/or video mode, only supporting text chat for now. But what it does, it does it admirably well! An interface that is simple, very clean while remaining cute, very practical, allowing to combine various instant-messaging protocols (AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo!, Jabber/XMPP, Google Talk, Gadu-Gadu, etc.) under a common roof, as much under Windows than under UNIX-based platforms (including Linux and presumably Mac OS X). A greatly-appreciated piece of software, and all free on top of that.

Among the finalists for the title, we note another instant messaging utility, ICQ 6, as well as open-source e-mail client Thunderbird 2.

Powhertz Award 2007

Best PC game

Call of Duty4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

PC game of the year at Gamespot, PC game of the year at Gamespy, PC game of the year at GameZone... No doubt, Call of Duty 4 is really the game of the year on PC!

Very honorable mention to BioShock, that clinched the title of PC game of the year at IGN and #3 at Gamespot and Gamespy. Crysis also deserves to be mentionned with its #2 at Gamespot and #3 at GameZone.

Powhertz Award 2007

Coup de coeur

Compiz Fusion
Compiz Fusion 0.6

Born around mid-2007 from a fusion of the Beryl and Compiz projects, Compiz Fusion creates a vast package of absolutely spectacular visual effects for the Linux desktop. Compiz Fusion makes a Linux station even more visually attractive and more futuristic than the big visual candies of Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard, and that, all for free of course! The possibilities are really numerous and varied, and I think that it is up to everybody to try them and keep those it wants to use, but one thing's for sure, I'm gonna have a lot of fun showing to Linux novices my 4 desktops in a rotating cube with reflexion and customized top and bottom face, the "desktops in exposition" feature with reflexion too, the Ring Switcher and even the fire drawing on screen! Of course, the use of Compiz Fusion increases a little bit the amount of required resources, but if those resources are available, then prepare to have a lot of fun! And if some of the functionalities offered under Compiz Fusion are almost solely used to make a show and impress people, some like the Expo (desktops in exposition) can be really useful. Compiz Fusion has given the author and administrator of Powhertz a pleasure of use that no other software had given him for many years, so it is without any kind of hesitation that it deserves the Coup de Coeur of 2007!

Please note that the "Best archiver" and "Best search engine" are having a break again this year.

A happy 2008 to all readers of Powhertz! May this new year bring you Firefox 3, Windows Server 2008, Internet Explorer 8, WINE 1.0 and even Duke Nukem Forever!!!


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