Locking up plans for the year ahead tops the list for many businesses in December. Likewise, we too are looking ahead to 2015 identifying the top tech stories for early next year. Microsoft has a busy early schedule with a big Windows 10 announcement expected after International CES 2015. Microsoft will probably want to keep an eye on Google, who is looking to take a bite out of the Office 365 user market with Google for Work. We’ll also watch for Sony to lift Android TV off the ground with a new line of 4K televisions. Here are 10 stories we are watching heading into what looks like a very busy early 2015.
Google for Work makes a run at Office 365
Google has Microsoft in its crosshairs with its roll out of Google for Work, a cloud-hosted production suite that looks to take a bite out of the Office 365 user base. The search giant announced new partnership programs targeting office and education users with a deliberately simple three-tracked proposition, which analysts are calling a response to the more complex Office 365 six-tiered structure. Insiders are looking for a January launch, followed by further intensification of cloud services wars.
Microsoft showcases Windows 10
We received word that Microsoft plans to showcase Windows 10 consumer features at an event early next year. A new touch screen feature called Continuum, which facilitates automated shifting between touch screen and mouse-controlled interfaces is the likely focal point of this event, specifically how it will render to Windows Phone, Xbox One, and Surface Pro tablets.
GoPro drones buzz the International CES® 2015
The annual consumer tech blowout gets crazier each year. The preliminary buzz hovers around the GoPro consumer drone showcase, which has analysts betting that the popularity of aerial photography will lead to an explosion in the worldwide unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) market. Also likely popular items at CES: 4K televisions, virtual and immersive gaming, and wearable fitness trackers. CES runs Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Salesforce refresh discontinues IE7 and IE8 Support
Salesforce announced that it will stop supporting Internet Explorer Version 7 and 8 browsers when it refreshes in May. The cloud software relationship management company cited lack of HTML5 capabilities as well as security concerns that stem from Microsoft’s discontinued support of the browser. If you haven’t yet upgraded to IE9 or higher, chances are pretty good you’re still running Windows XP. Consider this one more reason to upgrade (as if you needed one more).
HP launches big iron for big enterprise
Hewlett-Packard unveiled a new line of big data-crunching hardware at Barcelona in December. The 8-two socket blade server Superdome X runs up to 16 Intel Xeon processors. The HP Integrity NonStop is a scalable hard disk drive (HDD) server tower operating on Intel Itanium processors. HP is gear this towards larger enterprises with big-time data needs. These machines are expected to launch on the heels of the implementation of HP split-up announced in fall.
Meet Creator CI20, the “high-performance” Raspberry Pi competitor
British chip designer Imagination unveiled a compact barebones computer designed to compete with the Raspberry Pi, a computing favorite in the education realm and the DIY hobbyist set. Called the Creator CI20, the board boasts a heftier processor than the Pi, and comes stocked with more memory and onboard storage—along with a slightly higher anticipated retail price point or $65. Imagination lauds the specs as “high-performance” in hopes of differentiating its product from a growing field of miniature barebones computers.
Xiaomi, the “Apple of the East,” brings smartphones to the West
If you haven’t heard of Xiaomi, here’s a crash course. The mobile brand has gained a reputation as the Apple of the East; its slick marketing and minimalist designs have won the company a die-hard following in China, propelling the brand to market leadership in just four years post-launch. Several reports indicate that Xiaomi will try to break into Western markets with the Mi5 phone—which may be revealed at CES 2015—a 5.7-inch QHD smartphone with a 20.7-megapixel camera and a near-bezel-free design.
That’s a big camera on the Windows Lumia
Will a 50-megapixel camera bring Windows Phone its first bona fide mobile success story? That seems to be the buzz after techno-leak sites caught a glimpse of what might be resurrection of Microsoft’s codename-“McLaren” phone—the Lumia 1030—which was shelved for unknown reasons this year. Its predecessor, the Lumia 1020, was a minor hit among photography enthusiasts with its 41-megapixel camera, and this model ups the ante in that regard. We can only guess whether it will launch before the Windows 10 launch in late 2015; some predict an earlier launch running Windows 8.1.
Sony to launch Android TV line
It has been a slow start for Android TV since its unveiling this summer; product-wise, there’s only one Android TV device available at this point: the Google Nexus Player. Sony is expected to shake things up with an Android-driven smart TV as early as February 2015. The TVs will use the Android TV interface, with users tapping Google Play and other Android apps for content. Look for Sony TVs to be available in 4K and 1080p, in a variety of display sizes.
Solid State Drives (SSD) continue upswing
We reported earlier this year the rising tides of the NAND Flash industry, with new technology and lower production costs driving down prices through the end of 2014. Researchers expect this trend to continue throughout 2015, predicting 10 percent growth in the SSD market, as manufacturers Crucial, Samsung, and Toshiba/Sandisk swing into full production of their newest lines of SSDs, such as Crucial MX100 and Samsung 850 Pro Series.
What are you looking forward to in 2015? Stay tuned for more about Android TV, Windows 10, Google for Work and other tech news as it develops.