What to Expect in 2006

by Frank La Vigne

Since this seems to be a tradition for some folks, I figure I would give it a go for myself. 

Here are my predictions in technology for 2006.

The much anticipated release of Windows Vista will drive a lot of activity, hype, and, even hysteria in 2006.

10. RSS will become a household word.

Sure, geeks, already know about RSS, but with the inclusion of RSS into Windows Vista, regular people will start consuming RSS feeds on a daily basis.

9. OPML will become even more important in the blogging community.

The rise of RSS feeds to prominence will also mean that a way to organize them will be desparately needed.  OPML will also be used as a tool to manage bookmarks better than the current, antiquated (circa 1995) means we have now.  Blogging pioneer Dave Winer has something in the works regarding OPML right now.  OPML is the start of a good idea, but certainly not the end.  (see my notes at the end of the list)

8. That little orange icon will not cure disease, end poverty, bring an end to all wars, or even put a dent into Microsoft's market share, but it will help put RSS on the map of the non-techie set.

I've blogged about the hysteria over this little orange icon [RSS Feed]that Mozilla created to represent RSS feeds before.  While it won't heal the sick or take care of the needy, it will help to bring about awareness of RSS to the general public.  Despite the fact that the Mozilla team designed the icon, no one in the general public will give a hoot and that little factoid will become a point of trivia in the WikiPedia article about RSS.

7. SharePoint will rule the world.

Nearly every slide deck from the PDC that mentions Microsoft Office has Sharepoint at the heart of it.  In some slides, Sharepoint is presented at the heart of everything related to Office.  Office is the cash cow for Microsoft and, as we've seen before, what Office does, the rest of Microsoft does (eventually).  People either love SharePoint or hate it.  The new version ought to patch up a lot of the ugly parts of it, but, like it or not, SharePoint will become the API to Office, interoperability, and collaboration.

6. The release of Office 12.

Office 12 will come out “sometime in the third quarter of 2006“ about the same time as Windows Vista.  The trade press will have their usual run of a “should you upgrade” articles, bug lists, and tips & tricks.  For everyone else, Office 12 could be the first version of Office that people will use the way Microsoft thinks you should use it: collaboratively.

5. Microsoft's stock will come alive again.

Microsoft doesn't make money on developer tools or databases in the same way that they make money on Office and Windows.  With both of those product lines coming out with new versions, Wall Street will take notice and the MSFT stock will get out of the doldrums.

4. Tablet PC's will become more mainstream, but won't replace laptops entirely until 2008(ish).

Tablet PC sales will continue to build momentum and the marketing campaigns of Gateway will be matched by their competitors.  Dell will even announce a Tablet PC towards the end of the year.  Otherwise, shareholder will start wondering why they're paying so much for the Google AdSense keyword.  Someone will buy out Motion Computing entirely.

3. People will finally “get“ XAML.

XAML is the language behind WPF (aka Avalon), but it can do so much more than draw pretty pictures on the screen. XAML is a standardized way to represent objects as XML.  People will see it at first simply as a means to “pimp out“ user interfaces, but, slowly, people will figure out that it's much, much more powerful than that.

2. Blogging will become passe (kind of) and the truly elite (733t?) will podcast.

The Fortune 500 will enter the blogging world and, suddenly, it won't seem so hip or edgy anymore.  Sure, blogs will still be around, but the truly outstanding among us will podcast in addition to blog-- even if the podcast won't come out on a regular basis. Podcasting will augment the blog, simply because people can listen to them as they drive.  It also adds a more personal touch.

1.  2006 will be the year for Video Blogs.

Sure, Video Blogs already exist, but they will take off like crazy in 2006, due to, in large part, the Video iPod.  Sites like YouTube will encourage people to produce and broadcast their own content, as bandwidth costs still make people shy away from hosting large video files.  While the production costs (in terms of time and money) are higher than blogging or podcasting, the pay offs are that much bigger.  There's just no substitute for watching something.   Plus, Digg's video show (link coming soon), has very low production values (Kevin Rose and that other guy sitting on a couch drinking beers as they discuss technology), but it's still entertaining. Independent filmmakers, documentary types, and TV production folks will flock to this medium as their skills can be put to good use to spice up the shows.   

Well, those are my predictions for 2006. 

If I had to pick 11 items, then the 11th item would be the rise of BizTalk.  Most developers don't even know what BizTalk is, fewer have even played with, and fewer still have mastered it.  That will all change in 2006, when the new version of BizTalk comes out.

Some of you out there may be wondering why I didn't mention Google or the Semantic Web. 

Google will continue to be a powerhouse and work their way onto Madison Avenue.  They will become more of an online advertising agency than a search engine company.  My only concern with Google in 2006 is their recent “alliance“ with Sun may prove to be more distracting than practical. 

Remember, Google became what it is today because it focused on building a better solution, not focusing solely on “beating Redmond.“  Beleive it or not, customers can actually make or break a company.  Are you listening Sun?

The Semantic Web will need more time to gain momentum and come up with a standard means of tagging content.  OPML is the start of organizing content, but it's certainly not the end of it. Tagging is the next logical step.  It will be ready for prime time at about the same time as IE 8 comes out.

As for ATOM, I sense that it will die a slow death.  It might be better than RSS, but RSS has a lot of momentum behind it and some very powerful friends.

Last, but not least, the New York Yankees will finally win the World Series in 2006.

But then again, I'm baised towards the Bronx Bombers. ;)

Did I miss anything?