December 16, 2003, 6:52 AM — After a three-year roller-coaster ride, the IT industry settled down a bit in 2003. The year seemed to provide a respite from megamergers, monopoly-busting, history-making corporate scandals, and the exhilarating but scary boom-and-bust cycle. Not that anyone was operating on cruise control. IT managers faced continual assault from a variety of nasty worms, handled user demands for wireless access and figured out how to work 64-bit computing technology into their systems. IT issues spilled into the public domain as politicians around the world grappled with spam and the challenges created by offshore outsourcing. Home users saw an increasing number of consumer electronics products aimed at them from vendors who had once focused solely on the computer market.
Meanwhile, everyone still has an eye peeled for economic recovery. As the year wanes, there are signs of a pickup that might fuel IT spending, and as usual, the pundits have plenty of ideas about what that spending will entail.
Here are the top 10 IT stories of the year, not necessarily in order of importance:
SCO rocks the Linux boat
Just when things appeared to be going great for Linux the world over, a U.S.-made wrench in the works alarmed the open-source faithful. When the SCO Group Inc. filed a lawsuit in March, charging IBM Corp. with misappropriation of trade secrets, Linux users saw that the move involved more than a contract dispute. SCO asserts that IBM took proprietary Unix code and put it into the open-source community. This muddies the legal waters for open-source software users, some of whom believe that SCO's terms could restrict Linux users' ability to redistribute source code. Nevertheless, governments and local entrepreneurs around the world continue to develop new variations of Linux and promote open-source software as an alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows. With such strong winds of change blowing, Linux's sails are not likely to be permanently deflated by the SCO suit, but the legal wrangling is sure to cause continued consternation in the open-source community.