Top stories from 2006

Open source, browser wars, innovations, games, patents, and more made 2006 a very interesting year.

With 2007 around the corner it's traditional to reflect on the past year and pick out the topics that were the most important, most read, or generated the most comments. Before I do that, though, I want to thank all my readers for making this one of the top blogs on ZDNet, and the folks at ZDNet like David Grober for providing me this opportunity.

One of my first posts for ZDNet was a controversial piece called "I want my job to go to India". It reflected some frustrations that developers have expressed to me when they see some of the newer projects go to teams in India and China while they're stuck back in the States doing maintenance work as their departments are held to zero growth (or negative, due to attrition). If you liked this article you might also like "U.S. vs. China vs. India in engineering".

I spent a lot of time this year talking about Firefox, the scrappy browser that scared Microsoft into restarting development on Internet Explorer. For example, "Browser wars 3: IE7 beta no match for Firefox", "Firefox is slow and buggy (but I'm hooked anyway)", "Six tips for Firefox 2",  and "Firefox 2 is no dud".

Software patents were on everyone's mind this year, with stories like "Patent terrorists ruin an industry" and "Good news for Linux: Microsoft, Novell pact in trouble" generating a lot of interest.

The launch of the Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii was good news for gaming enthusiasts such as myself, but not so good news for moms and dads trying to get one under the tree. See "Nintendo Wii pulls out ahead", "Nintendo to gamers: 'Do not let go of Wii Remote'", and "Nintendo recalls wrist strap, Amazon starts a lottery".

Despite (or maybe, because of) an underdog market share, not many companies attract the kind of devotion as Apple. "Apple sics lawyers on hot and bothered MacBook Pro users" showed that the company doesn't always return the favor, but "Apple vs. Dell price war" and "Apple vs. Dell part deux" demonstrated they are becoming more competitive in the medium and high end ranges than most people give them credit for.

What do you do when the 98 pound weakling turns into the 800 pound gorilla? In 2006 Google continued to  grow beyond everyone's expectations. It reminds me of Microsoft in 90's, but at an accelerated rate. It's hard to excape their reach - check out the Google category for continuing coverage.

The most important story of 2006 has to be Sun's decision to (finally) open source Java. See "As Stallman looks on, Sun frees Java under the GPL" and "Q&A with Tim Bray". This is one story that will continue to unfold in 2007. One thing is for sure, Java as a platform and a language is not done evolving, and will be with us for many years go come. See also "Ten coolest Eclipse 3.2 features", and "Die, C, die! 5 reasons to UN-learn C".