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Posey's Tech Predictions for 2017
From the growth of home AI to Microsoft's stepped up approach to battling ransomware, here's where technology and IT might be headed in the next 12 months.
Over the last several years, it has become something of a tradition that I make some tech predictions for the coming year. While that probably seems simple enough, there are two rules that I impose on myself, just to make things a bit more interesting.
The first rule is that I don't play it safe. In other words, I'm not going to predict anything super obvious. It would be easy for me to make a prediction that the prices of streaming media services are going to go up next year, but I would prefer to try to make predictions that are a bit riskier.
My second rule is that I don't base my predictions on anything for which I have inside knowledge. If, for example, I predicted that Microsoft would release an Xbox Phone (no, that isn't a real prediction), it would not be because I attended a super-secret prerelease briefing in Redmond. So without any further ado, here are my tech predictions for 2017.
Home AI Grows Up
Of all of the predictions that I am making for 2017, the one prediction that I feel most confident in is that home AI is going to significantly mature this year. Right now Amazon Echo and Google Home are gaining popularity as AI devices for the home. Rumor has it that Microsoft is also working on a Cortana-powered device of its own. Regardless of the platform, I am guessing that these devices are going to become far more powerful and capable over the next year.
If you attended the Innovation Keynote at Microsoft Ignite this year, then you may recall Microsoft's demonstration of its AI capabilities. I feel pretty certain that some of these capabilities will make it into Cortana.
More importantly, I think that there is a huge potential for devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home to interact with other devices around the home, either by way of WiFi, Z-Wave or infrared remote. Imagine for a moment, a home with a Z-Wave-enabled garage door opener. I can envision asking Cortana if I remembered to close the garage door. I also expect Cortana to be able to respond by saying that the garage door is currently open, and asking if I want it to be closed. Similarly, I think that home AI devices will eventually control devices such as televisions and other home electronics. I think that the day will come when I will be able to verbally ask Cortana to turn on the TV and put it on the Discovery Channel.
Microsoft Continues the Trend of Hardware Innovation
In 2016 Microsoft surprised a lot of people (myself included) by announcing innovative new hardware products such as the Surface Dial and the Surface Studio. The year before that, Microsoft announced another really innovative new device: HoloLens. My prediction is that Microsoft is going to be announcing more hardware devices in the coming year.
While I am tempted to predict that Microsoft will announce a Surface Phone, my gut is telling me that Microsoft's next wave of hardware announcements will correspond to really innovative, Bluetooth-connected devices that are designed to work with Windows 10.
Microsoft Announces HoloLens 2.0
Late last year I had the chance to try out HoloLens for the first time, and it was awesome. Even so, I can't shake the feeling that HoloLens, as it exists today, is a prototype device and that an even better HoloLens is on the way.
My prediction is that Microsoft will announce HoloLens 2.0 at some point in 2017, maybe at the Build conference. I am also predicting that HoloLens 2.0 will be lighter weight, have a larger field of view and a slightly lower price tag.
Microsoft Products Target Ransomware More Aggressively
My fourth prediction for 2017 is that Microsoft will defend its customers against ransomware much more aggressively than it does today. I have given this prediction a lot of thought, and there are several ways that Microsoft might go about providing better defense. For instance, Microsoft could modify Exchange Server to provide definitive warnings about phishing messages. Similarly, Microsoft could make the Windows User Account Control feature and AppLocker more restrictive. A simpler approach however, might be for Microsoft to monitor the I/O stream, and interrupt any attempted bulk file modification attempts by prompting the user for permission.
Augmented Reality Goes Mainstream
My final prediction is that 2017 will be the year that augmented reality really becomes a thing. The short-lived Pokémon Go craze clearly demonstrated the potential for augmented reality, but my guess is that retailers will soon embrace the technology. Imagine walking into a store, pointing your smartphone at an item, and instantly seeing pricing information, reviews, etc. Sure, that type of thing is possible today by pointing a smartphone at an item's barcode, but I am talking about an app that recognizes an item either by appearance, location or some combination of physical attributes. I also think that augmented reality could be used to help consumers find an item in a store. An app could be designed to allow a consumer to search for an item, and then guide the person to the item, right down to its location on the shelf.
So these are my predictions for 2017. Are they correct, or am I way off? I will revisit each of these predictions in 2018 and see which ones came true, and which did not.
Brien Posey is a 20-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.