2006 Year in Review: Hits and Misses

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 12-17-2006
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.

Read the full story on eWeek: 2006 Year in Review: Hits and Misses