Top 7 Technology Trends That Ruled 2009

Operating Systems Bulk Up, Then Slim Down

Microsoft’s Windows Vista Operating System was panned by critics and users alike when it was released in 2006. It presented a missed opportunity, if not a complete blunder for the company. So a lot rested on Microsoft’s much-anticipated follow-up, Windows 7. And while it’s too early to declare it an unequivocal success, initial impressions are extremely promising for the OS, which is basically a streamlined (faster, slimmer) version of its predecessor. Gone are the way-too-long start-up time and endless hand-holding (“Are you SURE you want to open that file?”).

This year’s Mac OS upgrade, Snow Leopard, was also an incremental upgrade, one that left you with more hard drive space, rather than less, when you installed it onto a computer running Leopard. The trend is clear: People are tired of bloated kitchen-sink operating systems, and manufacturers know it.

Still, when it comes to slimness, nothing from Microsoft or Apple compares to Google’s upcoming Chrome OS, which will be little more than a browser-link to the Web, opting for lightning-quick start-up speeds over heavy computing

App Stores Are All the Rage

Barely a year after its launch, the iPhone App Store now has a staggering number of applications—a hundred-thousand-plus. Buoyed by this success, other mobile platforms—such as BlackBerry, Android, and Palm—have put out their own stores. But it doesn’t end there—manufacturers are now setting up app stores for all sorts of non-phone consumer electronics, such HP’s Internet-enabled printers and Livescribe’s Pulse smartpen. App store overload? Potentially.

Next year we can look forward to a minor backlash, as dozens of competing app stores become intolerably difficult for consumers to parse through, and developers get peeved at being forced to make a dozen different versions of the same program.

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