The cynic's guide to technology in 2010

What Microsoft, Apple and Google really have up their sleeves

Richard Cobbett

With 2009 now well and truly over, our eyes must inevitably turn to 2010. In Arthur C Clarke's famous novel, this was the year when the Russians and Americans teamed up on a universe redefining mission to uncover the secrets of reality.

In the real world, there'll probably be a slightly faster iPhone. All things considered, we'll call it a draw.

But what else can we expect? We've dug out the crystal ball (in the knowledge that nobody ever, ever bothers looking back at futurologists' old work) to bring you this exclusive preview of the months to come. It's science!

January: Windows 8 is released, several years ahead of schedule. New features include an updated title screen, three new pieces of wallpaper, and a version of Minesweeper with the xyzzy cheat code back in.

Apple counters by releasing a blank CD as the next version of OS X, describing it as 'the atom bomb in our war against bloat'.

February: Rupert Murdoch gives up on the internet in disgust, citing widespread piracy and the impossibility of selling content online as the main reasons.

As one final act of revenge, he releases the world's first hard copy of the web. 'Taste of your own bloody medicine,' he tells the pirate community, which immediately sets about scanning it in for the torrent sites.

March: Declining advertising revenues finally force change on web services. Around the world, former online millionaires are seen holding desperate cardboard signs reading 'Will Host Photos For Food'.

April: Google launches Chrome OS, a Linux-based operating system designed to capitalise on what's left of the web economy. Users aren't entirely blown away by it, citing its limited features and the inherent benefits of downloadable software over online JavaScript applications, especially in the face of May's zombie apocalypse.

June: With May officially declared The Month We Never Speak Of Again, the world returns to the important stuff: the brand-new iPhone. New features include a diamond screen to prevent scratching, an updated maps application that tells you where you're going before you've even decided, and an FM tuner.

Worried that the market might be getting oversaturated, Steve Jobs only permits one to be built. Apple fanboys happily queue up for the chance to buy a photograph of him using it.

July: Hollywood finally closes the infamous 'analogue hole'. Previous attempts at foiling 'if you can see it, you can copy it' are declared to have failed due to aiming at the wrong half of the sentence. Giant metal barriers are constructed in front of every cinema screen.

Viewers comment that while this does detract from the experience, it's still better than sitting through Transformers 2. Pirates continue to rip Oscar screener DVDs like before.

August: First conviction for Skype Rage upheld. The judge says that while he appreciates the frustration new college student Phillip Carmichael built up after listening to his parents saying 'Can you hear me? Is this coming through?' for two hours, actually jumping into a car, driving seven hours across the country and murdering them as they continued parroting the question into their cheap microphone was a little too much.

September: Intel fights back against AMD's latest so-small-you-can-only-see-it-under-a-microscope chip by building one so small, you can't even do that. At least, that's what it claims. AMD is invited to prove it's lying.

October: Scandal rages through the graphics industry as the world's first completely digital actor turns out to be merely be a deeply unconvincing human.

With his plastic skin, dead eyes and no trace of personality, mournful meat marionette Virtual Actor-One confesses that he thought officially changing his name would be the best way of finding work in an increasingly tech-focused Hollywood. Actor-One's past roles include the third guard on the right in Tron and the T-Rex from Jurassic Park.

November: Scientists at CERN finally manage to create the elusive 'god particle' in the Large Hadron Collider. Fighting promptly breaks out over what it should be called, how it should be studied and how technicians should dress to do so. Luckily, the community soon finds a way to settle the various issues to everyone's satisfaction. "If only we'd had Halo 3 Deathmatch during the Crusades," sighs the Pope.

December: Bill Gates announces the discovery of clinical immortality. Everyone under the age of 55 is eligible and anyone can afford it, until someone finally reads the EULA in detail and discovers that the yearly licence renewal fee for their existence is based on an exponential scale. On the plus side, the slave collars are really very fetching.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First published in PC Plus Issue 290

Liked this? Then check out 5 most likely Apple products of 2010

Sign up for TechRadar's free Weird Week in Tech newsletter
Get the oddest tech stories of the week, plus the most popular news and reviews delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up at http://www.techradar.com/register

Follow TechRadar on Twitter