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Posey's Tech Predictions for 2018
According to Brien's take on the Microsoft tea leaves, the year ahead should bode well for Hyper-V and Azure customers. On the other hand, Windows 10 S users may want to brace themselves.
Over the last several years, I have adopted the tradition of using my last column of the year to talk about my tech predictions for the upcoming year. Of course, making accurate tech predictions isn't easy, and I don't claim to have a crystal ball.
Even so, it's fun to try to predict the future of tech, and I have a better than 50 percent average over the years for making accurate predictions. So let's get started.
Windows 10 S Gets Discontinued
My first prediction is that Microsoft discontinues Windows 10 S. What is Windows 10 S, you ask? Think of Windows 10 S as being Windows RT 2.0. It is a version of Windows 10 that can only run apps from the Windows Store. Microsoft introduced Windows 10 S primarily for use in educational environments.
Upon its debut, Windows 10 S was met with less-than-stellar reviews. Even today, I can honestly say that I do not know a single person who is using it. My guess is that Microsoft is going to cut its losses by discontinuing Windows 10 S.
An Increased Emphasis on Security and Compliance
This prediction is something of a no-brainer. At the 2017 Ignite conference in Orlando, the primary emphasis was security. Although Microsoft has done a huge amount on Windows security lately, I think that Microsoft is going to be taking a very hard look at the security of some of its other product lines -- especially System Center, Exchange and SharePoint.
Recent high-profile security breaches and ransomware attacks will pretty much force Microsoft to be more security-aware than it has ever been. Furthermore, I look for Microsoft to make some minor changes to its core product lines in an effort to add features related to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Hybrid Hyper-V Gets Easier
Out of all of the announcements that were made at the 2017 Ignite conference, the one that I was the most excited about was support for nested virtual machines (VMs) running on Azure. By introducing this capability, Microsoft has finally made it possible to run Hyper-V in the cloud. Organizations can conceivably live-migrate VMs between an on-premises Hyper-V deployment and Azure.
As awesome as these new capabilities are, setting up hybrid Hyper-V (on-premises and Azure) isn't exactly a seamless process. My guess is that Microsoft is going to take some steps to make things easier. Perhaps it will introduce an Azure template that generates a pre-configured Hyper-V host on Azure. Maybe it will extend Virtual Machine Manager or Hyper-V Manager to make it more Azure-aware. In any case, I think that Microsoft is going to try to make it much easier to run Hyper-V VMs on Azure.
Mixed Reality for Xbox
In 2017, Microsoft gave Windows 10 native support for mixed reality. The company also worked with partners to develop standardized mixed reality hardware, including headsets and hand controllers. As someone who owns mixed reality hardware, I can tell you from first-hand experience that Microsoft has done a great job implementing mixed reality, and that the hardware and software can deliver some incredible experiences.
Given how heavily Microsoft has invested in mixed reality and how well the technology works, I would be shocked if Microsoft did not try to adapt its mixed reality hardware to Xbox. An immersive, mixed reality environment would make many of the Xbox games far more compelling.
Simplified Cloud Subscriptions
Microsoft has not exactly made a secret of the idea that even though the company continues to sell standalone software, it would really prefer if you licensed all of your software through a subscription. One of the problems with doing that, however, is that it can be a pain to keep up with all of the various subscriptions that you might need.
Microsoft has already taken steps to simplify its subscription model by introducing Microsoft 365, a subscription that includes Office 365 and Windows licenses. My guess is that Microsoft will also take steps to consolidate its business subscription plans. For example, Microsoft might offer a single subscription that includes Office 365, Azure and Intune.
My Outlandish Prediction
Creating a list of tech predictions is not my only year-end tradition. Another such tradition is that I like to wrap up the list by making a prediction that seems really outlandish, and unlikely. This year, I want to make two such predictions.
My first prediction is that Microsoft will introduce its own Linux build in 2018. If you have read some of my more recent columns, then you know that I have been predicting Microsoft Linux for a while. I really expected Microsoft Linux to be announced in 2017. Even though that prediction did not come true, I'm not ready to give up on this one. I still think that we are eventually going to see Microsoft Linux.
My second crazy prediction is that Microsoft will defy conventional wisdom by offering flat-rate pricing for Azure. One of the big complaints about operating in the cloud is that the costs can be unpredictable. Microsoft could eliminate this concern my offering flat-rate subscriptions that include a specific set of resources.
Brien Posey is a 16-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.