2001: The Year in Review

2001 was a year many folk in many strata would just as soon put behind us. However, there are certainly lessons to be learned, and the forecast is no longer quite so cloudy. Drew Bird summarizes the year's impact on our industry in this 2-part article.

 By Drew Bird
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At this time of year, our thoughts turn to the coming year and what might be. With the turkey dinners of the holidays now seeming like a distant memory and the New Year just past, we begin to look forward rather than back. But before we get to the New Year's parties and resolutions, (that are made to be broken,) there's still time to take a look back at the year that's gone by.

There was certainly no shortage of news in 2001. As the world dusted itself off from the New Year celebrations of 2001, the day dawned on a different IT world that that which had gone before. Whereas 2000 had been a year of back-slapping over surviving Y2K, the beginning of 2001 found an IT industry in which troubled companies were already laying off workers in significant numbers. It was a theme that was to continue throughout the year. With each passing week technology companies, not just .com's, lowered expectations, laid off workers and closed their doors. By the end of the year, the number of IT related job losses was being quoted in the tens of thousands, and the list of companies that had gone under made for very poor reading. As the months went by, more .com names feel by the wayside with some sites even providing a tally of those that were gone.

For those companies that did survive, the news was not that much better. With venture capital investment almost non-existent in comparison to previous years, IPO's were delayed, rescheduled or cancelled in the hopes of a more welcoming business environment. The upturn didn't show and the result was that companies of all sizes from giants like Cisco to the Web hosting company in your backyard were laying off staff in vast numbers. Some forecast that by Q4 things would be looking up, but no-one could have factored in the events of September 11th which sent everything for a loop and left people considering more than just their withered 401k. As the end of the year approached, in financial terms, most of the damage had been repaired and stocks had climbed back to pre 9/11 levels.

From a more technical perspective, the release of Windows XP was, without doubt, the event of the year or at least that's what we were told. Shortly after the events of September 11th, Bill Gates teamed up with Rudy Giuliani to introduce Windows XP to the world. The release seemed to take on an extra significance, a mood of defiance surrounding the release event, which took place in Times Square, with Bill citing the location of the release as proof that New York was still a city where things happened.

If anything the release and its location seemed to remind people that there were things in life far more important than a new PC OS.

For Microsoft, unfortunately, the post release debate centered more on the product registration mechanisms of the new OS rather than any of its other features. Still, it wasn't an issue for long as cracks for the product registration system appeared all over the Internet within a few days.

This article was originally published on Dec 31, 2001
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