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Dec 4 2007   2:54PM GMT

Year in Review: ‘Tis the season for the top tech trends and tools of 2007

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

Ah, December. The first real snow has fallen here in Boston, the malls are full of holiday shoppers and the blogosphere and pages of industry mags are full of annual summaries of the best and worst of the year in technology. We’ll be coming out with our own most notable word of the year, as you’d expect from an IT encyclopedia, so stay tuned. In the meantime, read on for a summary of some of the best (and worst) tech of 2007.

Around this time year, I laid out the top 20 IT buzzwords of 2006. To be fair, calling some of these technologies “buzzwords” now looks like a bit of a stretch, in terms of the strict definition for buzzword. Virtualization is everywhere now, in the network, server, desktop PC, storage hardware and data center. Web 2.0 may have been massively overhyped, but blogs, RSS, Ajax, wikis, podcasting and social bookmarking have all made an impact this year too, in a wave of adoption that many have now settled down to term “Enterprise 2.0.”

“2.0” itself could be the word of the year, were it not for the discussions of Web 3.0 that led to some buzz fatigue and gentle reminders of the Semantic Web. (See this list of semantic apps for some insight into how this space is evolving).

SaaS applications from industry giants continue to be important for CRM. And at the end of every year, IT admins and CFOs alike can’t help but think of SOX compliance. Mash-ups, VoIP, BPM, 3G SOA, XML and data mining all continued to be relevant too, with nary a buzzword to be seen.

Anyone who creates, markets or sells content or services online know the value and importance of search engine optimization (SEO) by now as well.

While they didn’t make the number one spot (you’ll have to wait for that one) there’s no question that IT became greener, as tracked by the surge in spending, research — and hype. Green data centers , green computing, LEED certification, and, unfortunately, greenwashing all make the trend list.

Dealing with Vista is also right at the top of any trend list. Microsoft’s new OS has met with slow adoption and a slew of backwards compatibility headaches, and, as SearchWinIT’s Christina Torode reports, “Few Windows shops had plans for Windows Vista migrations in 2007, and it appears that there may also be little interest well into next year. Of more than 800 responses from IT managers to an online survey conducted by SearchWinIT.com, 37% said they had no plans whatsoever in place to install Vista, while 8% said they would begin adding the new desktop OS in the first quarter of 2008, and 9% expect to begin the upgrade in Q2 2008.”

So what else is new? What else mattered? If I just pulled from the words on WhatIs.com that received the most attention from you, our audience, you’d think it was dialectric materials, FUBAR , chaos theory, IEEE, heuristics, nanometers and compilers — but there’s more to the year that that!

I won’t aggregate every 2007 list here (after all, Fimoculous.com has, yet again, done a great job of pulling together 2007 lists) but following are some of the best that cover IT. You’ll find great new Websites, tools and services — exactly what we promise to provide you in this space from week to week.

Enjoy the lists — and, of course, don’t forget to subscribe to to our newsfeed for the best enterprise IT news or subscribe to our tipsfeed for the best enterprise IT tools and expert advice to help you work better and faster.

Jason Hiner takes aim at hardware and software in The 10 most important business technology products of 2007, noting the i-Mate, Sprint Xohm, Salesforce.com, Vista/Leopard, LinkedIn, Zoho Office, Cisco Telepresence, Microsoft Office 2007, OQO and the Apple iPhone.Personally, I agree with the commenters that the XO of the OLPC project should be in the conversation, though perhaps not on this list, as Jason says. I’d add OpenOffice, personally.

PCWorld misses that one too — though not many others — in this immense roundup of the Top 100 Products of 2007.

This list is a grab bag of hardware, software, Web sites and services. Techies will find plenty to quibble with — can you really compare the Intel Core 2 Duo with Pandora.com, Guitar Hero 2 and Netflix without segmenting them out — but if you’re looking for a good list of what mattered to techies and netizens alike to discover the best of the best, you could do much worse.

PCWorld also featured a terrific list of the top 100 undiscovered Web sites in August, if you missed it, along with their top 100 classic Web sites.

Some of my favorites (and now bookmarks) include Wink, Footnote, Wikisky, DZone, Programmable Web, VideoJug and Zoho and Meebo. Happy surfing!Time Magazine, in much the same vein, offers up their 50 Best Websites of 2007.

My favorites here have to be CellSwapper.com, Last.fm, Newsvine.com, Tumblr, Twitter, GrandCentral and, for some of the best laughs of the year, the outrageous FunnyOrDie.com.

If you didn’t see Will Ferrell’s “The Landlord,” you missed out. StumbleUpon is, for my money, the breakout Web site of the year, though YouTube and Facebook fans may disagree.

(Stumble this blog and find out what I mean).

I liked Mozy.com for online backup, too.

It isn’t quite a 2007 roundup but Esquire’s six ideas that will change the world offered such intriguing suggestions that I couldn’t help but mention them:

  • a low energy method for getting rust nanoparticles to bind to arsenic for water purification in the developing world
  • Internet “hacktivists” who use Psiphon to provide uncensored Net access to netizens stranded in regimes hostile to the free flow of information and ideas
  • flexible circuits embedded in silicone skin that can be used for prostheses and wearable computers
  • self-modeling robots who use the principles of natural selection found in evolutionary theory to arrive at the optimal model for a structure or mechanism
  • CO2 sequestering in the deepest water of the oceans to force it to become a liquid heavier than water
  • biodegradable plastic produced in an environmentally friendly way

For more in that vein, make sure to consult the pages of MIT’s Technology Review, where they list the following exciting emerging technologies:

On the other side of the coin, eWeek’s Brian Moore illustrated a list of technologies and services that flopped, floundered or aren’t quite ready for prime time in 2007’s Biggest Emerging Technology Disappointments. You’ll find virtual worlds, in the form of Second Life, ultramobile micro-PCs, home-based VoIP, mobile security for smartphones, IPv6, ebook reader (Hello, Kindle!), WiMax, BlueRay/HD DVD and MuniWiFi.

It’s hard to argue with the selections, though I do think that Kindle’s eInk technology offers the closest thing to a pleasant electronic reading experience yet.

Wired is calling for nominees for its 10th anniversary vaporware awards, too, if you want to get in on voting for what didn’t materialize this year.

Personally, and I know I’m burying the lede here, 2007 was the year that the network took a huge step towards being the computer, a trend acknowledged by Amazon, IBM and Microsoft in one form or another. (And yes, I’m talking about our word of the year again here.) Sun talked about that phenomenon ten years ago, though it missed an opportunity by not open sourcing Java. This model of Internet-based supercomputing, where vast stores of information and processing resources can be tapped into remotely by a laptop, PC, smartphone or other connected device is still building momentum..

2007 saw the introduction of more devices than ever before, including the gPC, iPhone and XO, that all move the user into this browser-based, Web application world, enabled and enobled by Ajax. Between open source operating systems, browsers, office productivity applications and inexpensive hardware, users and organizations can do more and create more than ever before, albeit in increasingly insecure environments.

We may take a stab at some predictions for the year ahead some time soon, once we finish digesting the year that was. Feel free to let me know what YOU think the most important trends and technologies for 2008 will be through email or in the comments.

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