The maturing of Information Technology

One of the signs of a maturing discipline is that change gets slower. I'm think that IT is reaching that point.

I mean, what can you do today with IT that you couldn't do three years ago? In December 2004, you were operating Windows XP, Firefox 1.0 and Office 2003.

Despite the release of successors to all of these software packages, the features available are still pretty much the same. Really, we've just seen new coats of paint and a few usability improvements. The Internet's still the Internet; word processing is still WYSIWYG; and operating systems are still pretty reliable.

Chronologically, I'd mark these as the major "tipping points" of IT in the last 25 years. These aren't necessarily the first time the concepts were invented, but they were the point at which they crossed into mainstream acceptance:

January 1983 Compaq Portable First IBM PC clone, announcing the start of a highly competitive PC-compatible market.
March 1992 Windows 3.1 First widely accepted multitasking OS.
March 1996 Netscape Navigator 2 First browser with mass-market acceptance, serving the web to around 80% of all users at the time.
September 1999 Google.com When the beta label came off Google, people had a reliable way to search for and find relevant information on the Internet. The dot-com boom goes through the roof.
October 2001 Windows XP First Windows OS which made crashes the exception, not the rule.
November 2004 Firefox 1.0 The start of a concerted move towards open standards in the browser space, directly facilitating the rise of "Web 2.0" applications.



Microsoft's big problem with Vista and Office 2007 is that they are trying to fix non-existent problems. Since Office 97 (which marked the first mature Office offering from Microsoft), there's been a steadily decreasing RoI with Office 2000, XP and 2003. They've fixed all the bugs and now Office 2003 is like a comfortable old shoe -- everyone knows how it works and it's not going to surprise anyone. Knowing this, MS tried to fundamentally re-engineer the user interface with 2007, but it's more likely to cause user angst and/or anger and lots of help desk calls. Ditto with Vista. What a great incentive to upgrade!!