A couple of years back we faced a dilemma. Should we attempt to upgrade all our workstations to Windows Vista, or keep using XP. In part, a lack of investment was responsible for keeping us tied to the Windows XP platform but problems with obtaining drivers for Windows Vista didn't help the situation. We are now however facing a new challenge in the form of Windows 7. The difference is that this time it is likely to run on our existing equipment so it is more likely that we will upgrade.
There are many changes coming via Microsoft at the moment. They are planning to release their applications in cloud format, so you could soon be using word in your web-browser in the same way that you can already use Google docs. If that wasn't enough they are also pushing the idea of private clouds so larger enterprises can host their own private cloud systems. Many might be reluctant to use this though as there's always a safety net of having files on your own machine. There's also confidentiality to be considered.
Still when you consider that we are going to see Office 2010, Visual Studio 2010 and Windows 7 all within a close schedule, it's clear that anyone in computing is soon going to be very busy. Add to this mixture emerging technologies like Adobe Air, MS Silverlight and the MS Web Framework for developers and suddenly you get some idea of the increasing demand for IT professionals. Then there's the Google Chrome O/S for netbooks. Microsoft is quick to laugh this off but they obviously haven't seen what IT people like me are saying about Android. Further developments to Android are already underway and I'm just dying to get the Eee version installed on one of our netbooks. Will Android be as useful without the mobile phone hardware though? Well time will tell. I'm also looking forward to the next version of LiveAndroid which can be run under Virtual PC. This could be really useful for our students who are developing Android applications.
So Microsoft are taking on Google with their Bing search engine and online Office while Google are retaliating with their netbook operating system. All of this market crossover will create more need for people who know how to use these systems and can train others. The economic situation may be dire but something tells me that I'll be able to ride the wave this time. I don't remember the last time we saw this surge in driving forces in the IT industry.