YEAR IN REVIEW: January 2009

Although analysis firm IDC Canada Ltd. made an effort to put a positive spin on it, saying that IT could be a lot worse off, the ongoing recession lingered like a cloud over the industry. The year began with rounds of layoffs from IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Intel Corp. — name the company, it was letting workers go.

IBM announced that layoffs might reach 16,000 and that Canadian staff would not be spared. Novell took the axe to 100 employees, mostly SUSE Linux developers. It was a move that industry observers feared would leave the company’s remaining open source developers especially disheartened. SAP AG announced plans to cut its global workforce by 3,000 end of year, on top of the 100 jobs previously cut in Canada and U.S. after the Business Objects merger. And Microsoft Corp. said it would cut 5,000 jobs over the ensuing 18 months.

And after a years-long series of layoffs, former Canadian tech poster child Nortel Networks Corp., which had lost $7 billion since 2005, finally filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

More hangover from 2008: The industry continued to ponder the effect of newly minted U.S. president Barack Obama, divided over whether his impact on the Canadian market would be positive or negative.

Worldwide, a computer virus called Downadup – soon to be known as Conficker – took a breather, lying dormant on the estimated 10 million machines it had infected, while security labs pondered what would happen next.

Meanwhile, also on the security front, Canadians were falling victim to a Revenue Canada-branded phishing attack, which offered users a refund after they filled out personal information on a fraudulent Web site.

Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion dallied with security vendor Certicom, only to pull its offer, leaving Verisign Inc. at the table.

collaboration between Intel and Citrix Inc. turned the focus of virtualization toward the desktop, where it would remain for much of the rest of the year. IBM set the tone for another theme that would dominate in the new year by announcing the availability of its Lotus communication and collaboration software in the cloud.

Pope Benedict made his YouTube debut, praising the Internet as a gift to humanity. And the World Wide Web recorded its one-billionth user.

PC users alienated by Microsoft’s Vista operating system got a glimmer of hope as Microsoft offered a beta version of Windows 7 for download; prospective users responded in such volume that Microsoft servers were brought to their knees before the download was even posted to the site. At the same time, Microsoft faced the prospect of billions of dollars in fines over its “Vista Capable” program.

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