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Tech stories of 2011: Jobs, Android and Anonymous rank in top 10

Marc Ferranti | Dec. 14, 2011
These are the IDG News Service's picks for the top 10 technology stories of the year.

-- ICANN hands out last IPv4 addresses, sets clock ticking for IPv6

In February, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, handed out its last IPv4 addresses, allocating the final five blocks of 16 million addresses to each of five regional Internet registries (RIRs). The imminent depletion of IPv4, which provided 4.3 billion addresses, is a sign of how quickly the Internet has grown, and puts pressure on ISPs and companies to switch to its successor, IPv6. Though some regions might not exhaust their supply of IPv4 addresses for several years, Internet communications could break down over time unless network managers migrate to IPv6, which allows for better security, better network management and what's thought to be an inexhaustible supply of addresses. IPv6-based hosts will not be able to communicate with IPv4-only systems without techniques that could impair Internet communications.

-- Microsoft moves to ARM with Windows 8

Microsoft took advantage of the CES spotlight in January to announce that Windows 8 will run on system-on-chip architectures including ARM-based processors, part of its effort to get Windows used on tablets. Other features of the upcoming version of Windows, which will continue to run on Intel chips and PCs as well, include the new Metro interface, which emphasizes touch and a Windows app store. However, the many businesses still migrating to Windows 7 are unlikely to upgrade again soon. And while Windows 8, which could appear on products next year, expands the hardware possibilities for Windows, it's ironic that Apple's iPad already has established such a commanding lead in tablets, a form factor that was long ago championed by Bill Gates. With Microsoft's history of coming from behind in markets to eventually grab a dominant position, though, Windows 8 should not be counted out before it ships.

-- The passing of a legend: Steve Jobs dies

Though it's too soon for history to judge the role Steve Jobs played in shaping technology, the outpouring of tributes around the world when the 56-year-old Apple co-founder died on Oct. 5 was a testament to his iconic status. With Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (also born in 1955) as a foil, Jobs was one of the two key figures in the PC era, and perhaps the most important business leader ushering tech into the post-PC world. His life was an American success story: the tale of a comeback kid, ousted in tears from his own company in the 1980s, only to revolutionize animated movie-making in the '90s and return to lead Apple's march to dominance at the start of the 21st century. With Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs fueled the PC revolution with the Apple II, and after his return to Apple led the company to redefine the music industry with the iPod and iTunes, the phone market with the iPhone, and the personal computer market yet again with the iPad. Jobs' triumphant return was capped in August when Apple overtook, at least for a time, Exxon Mobil as the most valuable company on the planet in terms of market capitalization. Though a difficult and even despotic leader by many accounts, no one denied Jobs' passion and singular position at the crossroads of technology and culture.

 

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