2012: ZDNet's definitive guide to the year in tech

2012: ZDNet's definitive guide to the year in tech

Summary: A look back at the hot topics, major discoveries, and technological breakthroughs of 2012: from privacy to surveillance, major product launches, successes and catastrophes.


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  • State-sponsored Flame malware hits Middle East

    Two years after Stuxnet infected Iranian nuclear facilities and damaged the country's ongoing nuclear program, malware called Flame was next to cause damage and disruption. Dubbed 'Flame' due to referenced words in fragments of code analyzed by Kaspersky Lab, the Russian antivirus and online security firm found the malware to be the "most complex threat" ever discovered. According to Kaspersky, the state-sponsored malware "redefines… cyberwar and cyberespionage."

    Flame targeted machines in Iran, the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, Sudan, Syria, and others in the region, and was far more sophisticated than Stuxnet in a number of ways. Instead of just targeting the physical infrastructure of the network, it was designed to steal data and collect audio and video content from webcams and microphones.

    Who or what was behind Flame remains unknown. While speculation remains rife around the circumstances of Stuxnet and similar state-sponsored malware attacks, some words in the code suggests an English-speaking country may have been behind the attack.

  • Microsoft's Windows chief out, Apple's iOS chief (also) out

    Within the space of a month, Microsoft let its Windows president Steven Sinofsky walk, while Apple replaced its iOS chief Scott Forstall -- both for similar, yet different reasons: they weren't playing nicely with the rest of their respective companies.

    Sinofsky, who led the division that built Windows 8, left the company as part of a mutual agreement. Forstall, who headed up the unit that develops the software for the popular iPhone and iPad devices -- was all but pushed out of the company. He will stick around at Apple to advise chief executive Tim Cook until 2013, but will then be set free into the wider world.

    It was Forstall's final decision to evict Google from the top-floor executive suite at Apple HQ and replace the mapping app with Apple's own in-house service. That program was beyond a flop. It was riddled with errors and deluged with criticism from both the media and end-users alike.

  • Apple v. Samsung ends in $1bn damages; U.K. court takes a different turn

    The biggest trial of the year was between the two mobile super-giants: Apple v. Samsung. It ended with Samsung having to pay more than $1 billion in damages to the iPhone and iPad maker after its products were found to have "copied" the iPad's rounded rectangle design. 

    However, the U.K. case took an entirely different turn: Apple lost, and Samsung prevailed. Apple was forced to put a notice on its Web site and in newspaper advertisements to 'apologize.' When it ran a statement on its Web site, Apple embellished the statement with additional, non-court sanctioned comments, which landed the firm in even more trouble. It then had to formally -- and clearly -- apologize a second time around, and eat a boatload of humble pie.

    But the Apple v. Samsung news wheel continues to spin, and though the trial is over, there are plenty more nooks and crannies that the litigious companies can find themselves in, in the near future.

Topics: Presentations, 4G, United Kingdom, Security, Privacy, Microsoft, iPhone, Government, Google, Apple, Windows 8

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  • And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

    Why did ZDNet miss it? Because it shows apple for the company that they really are.

    Here is the order of events:
    1. apple EMBRACES html.

    2. apple EXTENDS html with a proprietary extension called Touch Events.

    3. Mobile websites everywhere start using this extended proprietary API because 95% of all mobile web traffic is done with webkit browsers (is this beginning to sound familiar?).

    4. W3C drafts a standard based on Touch Events so that ALL browsers, even those that dare to not have a huge majority, can work with all mobile web sites (is this beginning to sound familiar?).

    5. apple EXTINGUISHES the html standard by forcing the W3C to abandon the standard after apple refuses to commit to offering royalty free access to apple patents involved in implementing the standard. apple doesn't want an html standard, they want a webkit "standard" defined by whatever apple feels like including in webkit and suing the authors of all competing browser engines who attempt to be compatible with the non standard proprietary apple extensions that web developers are using because apple has such a huge monopoly on the mobile web browser engine market. This FORCES every other browser to either implement webkit or die.

    6. Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Opera, jQuery, and a few other big players contribute to a new W3C standard called Pointer Events: "Microsoft, unlike Apple, is participating in W3C's standardization process and has made the intellectual property commitments that W3C demands"

    7. Microsoft implements Pointer Events in webkit and submits it.

    8. apple refuses to accept Microsoft's patch because: "Pointer Events spec had (unspecified) problems and that there was no point in supporting Pointer Events until real Web content used it." No point in supporting a standard until real web content used it? Huh. Back when every web developer was supporting MS "standards" apple certainly didn't have that attitude.

    9. apple is given every opportunity to join in the design process but they refuse: "Another Google developer invited Apple to join the Pointer Events Working Group to help improve the specification and address those unspecified problems, but thus far Apple appears to be unwilling to participate."

    Now, before you guys freak out and respond with "but MS did this" remember that this is the point. MS did this. They got in trouble for doing it. They got slammed for doing it. So slam apple now for their Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish tactic on web standards. We were promised that apple would be nicer. We were lied to.
    • Re: And here is one of the story that ZDNet missed

      Watch out, guys, Apple is the new badass over here...
  • What about Windows Phone 8?

    It is for me one of the most worthy hardware/software release of the year...
    • Naw

      It's just you.
    • Re; What about Windows Phone 8?

      You have to be joking. This phone is a huge flop. The phone are going to have try harrder to catch Apple or Android.
      Ian Norris
  • Speaking of technological breakthroughs

    I nominate ZDNet for upgrading its comment systems to include an advanced feature set once only enjoyed by early USENET users.
    none none