Industry superpowers found themselves struggling this past year to adapt to a fast-changing technology business that was seemingly about to leave them behind.
Even a perennial leader, such as Sony, found itself on the defensive. In the aftermath of a massive computer battery recall, challenges in the game player market, and consumer uncertainty related to the standards battle over high-definition DVD players, the pressure was on CEO Howard Stringer. But Sir Howard, stiff upper lip and all, told CNET News.com that he was sticking with his plan.
Microsoft was another bellwether tech company that faced a transition year. With co-founder Bill Gates making a slow-motion exit, the company was betting on the strength of its newly released Vista operating system and the popularity of its game console to help maintain its momentum. But as Gates told us, he still has plenty left on his plate before he finishes shifting from a full-time Microsoft worker to a part-timer.
To be sure, Vista's uptake proceeded apace, but whatever technical advances it featured only elicited grudging acknowledgment from security software makers. One of the more prominent, Symantec CEO John Thompson, warned against viewing Windows Vista as a solution to security woes. He wasn't buying Microsoft's argument that the "new and improved" Windows made computer users more secure than they were with Windows XP. Even though his critique included a fair dollop of self-interest, Thompson eagerly awaited a year in which corporations had finally awakened to the reality that security was an essential element of today's business.
Oddly enough, that bit of conventional wisdom seemingly was ignored by Uncle Sam. The role of cybersecurity czar had been left empty for more than a year. But in February, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff appointed Greg Garcia to the post. One important difference between Garcia and his predecessors: he also holds the title of assistant secretary, an elevated position that comes with more power than any of his predecessors.
And what summary of 2007's key themes would be complete without mentioning Web 2.0? This was the year in which Web 2.0 backers convinced the corporate types that it was the real deal.
Web 2.0 did quickly become a terribly overused umbrella term, but the effects of Web 2.0 technologies were quite real, forcing changes in the world of media--digital and print. No less a "big media" personage than former Disney CEO Michael Eisner decided to roll the dice on a new Web video studio for the production and distribution of online video content.
Another one-time headliner from the world of old media, Dan Rather, reappeared on the scene--this time in a new career working with Marc Cuban's HDNet. The irony was all the more striking as Rather left his job as CBS News anchor in disgrace after bloggers triggered a dustup over his report on President Bush's military record. But as Rather told News.com, he was adapting quickly to his new role and to the new definitions governing the world of journalism, writ large.
Perhaps no issue at the intersection of science and technology garnered more attention than climate change. The topic continues to get a lot of critics' dander up. Still, a long-awaited panel of experts assembled by the United Nations concluded that there exists a strong link between human-made carbon emissions and global climate change. We spoke with Stanford scientist Terry Root to find out what that presages for the human race.
What Root and other scientists are saying probably is music to the ears of folks like Frank Bowman. The CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute and a retired Navy admiral, Bowman represents a constituency that likely figures to become a key part of any discussion about alternative energy.
No such environmental troubles concerned the increasing number of cyberdenizens inhabiting Second Life. But as virtual reality entered the popular lexicon and Second Life swelled with new addicts, some of the newbies left their real-world manners at home. The object of their ire was a Chinese businesswoman named Ailin Graef, whose cyberinterview with News.com was sabotaged by a 15-minute digital barrage of flying body parts and doctored porn images. That episode soon made it onto YouTube and ignited a celebrated debate over the proper limits of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Despite a backdrop of negative news, CEO Howard Stringer charts what he hopes will be a corporate rebound.
Shifting to part-time one year from now, Microsoft's co-founder sets out his agenda.
John Thompson has a dim view of Microsoft's new OS--and that's just for starters.
Greg Garcia of DHS says his job is to get defenders talking to one other--and letting the market decide which tools are best.
Veteran computer scientist Frances Allen looks back on Ptran, "primitive" computing, and what it was like making her way in a man's world.
Bruce Chizen discusses open source, the importance of video, and increasing competition from the likes of Google.
The former Disney chief says the success of his new Vuguru and other Net start-ups rides on quality, not technology.
Dan Rather on blogging, old media versus new media, and the future of journalism in the digital age.
Tata CEO Subramaniam Ramadorai says the outsourcing boom is far from spent, turns his company's attention to new areas.
Author and Stanford scientist Terry Root pulls no punches about what she says is happening before our eyes.
Chief software architect Ray Ozzie says everything Microsoft does will include an online services component.
Before his induction ceremony, Bob Metcalfe reflected on network tech, patents, Net neutrality, and bold predictions.
After his first year on the job, Sun's CEO says the company is relevant again but there are still problems to fix.
Frank Bowman says that in an age of climate change, nuclear deserves more consideration as a source of alternative energy.
After a company record-setting first week of sales, Dusty Welch is basking in the glow of Activision's purchase of Guitar Hero.
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