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The best hardware, software, and cloud services of the year

Peter Wayner | Jan. 10, 2013
InfoWorld's 2013 Technology of the Year Award winners stretch from devices and desktops to data centers and beyond

Pretty as an iPad Finally, we ended up choosing a few things that were, to extend this theme, easy on the end-user. Even by some of the standards that Apple set in the past, the iPad Mini is pretty cool. It fits nicely in the hand -- smaller is better -- yet remains as functional, usable, and complete as the full-size iPad. Nothing comes as close to bundling a pure, clean, beautifully portable mechanism for absorbing information.

When it meshes with functionality, the power of beauty affects software too. There are thousands of Linux distros, but Ubuntu rightfully attracts the most attention. While there has been much to love about Ubuntu in the past, the new packaging -- the smooth and modern Unity UI -- pushes it over the top.

Will these trends continue in the New Year? No one can be certain about the surprises that will come out of the blue, but the same trends that shaped this list will continue to be important in 2013. They will continue to shape the working world.

The challenges of exploiting information in big data are just beginning. The code is starting to work well, and the companies are starting to move beyond experimentation. It won't be enough to simply execute Hadoop jobs, but the jobs must run quickly and generate results. We'll see better, faster, and simpler Hadoop implementations next year.

The continual push for more ease and simplicity will continue. The cloud applications will do more, and they'll do a better job of configuring themselves without your help. It is in the best interests of the cloud companies to make it easy for you to start up N machines with a click of a button. They will continue to make it as simple as possible to spend by the hour.

Also expect that everyone will devote more emphasis on packaging and appearance. While enterprise IT is always the last place to value style over substance, the end-users within the enterprise aren't as pure of heart. For this reason, the best products will emulate Ubuntu and the iPad, mixing in a bit of slick packaging with the prerequisite ease-of-use.

In other words, expect this next year to produce prettier, more beguiling stacks of code with more power packed into prettier interfaces. If this year is any indication, they'll be even shinier, fancier, and more beguiling next year. The Technology of the Year Award winners are an introduction to what's coming around the corner.


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