Predictions for 2004 revisited

Every January, the forum members assemble a list of predictions for the coming year. We're still working on this year's list, but here's our list for 2004, based on this forum thread. Overall, we weren't too far off. Here are the highlights:

Tim's predictions

The US won't start any new wars.

  • True.

Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 will come out, and Half-Life 2 will be considerably better.

  • True.

Half-Life 2 will be released in May, not the current release date of April. Doom 3 will beat it to the market, which will steal a lot of Half-Life 2's fanfare.

  • Half-Life 2 wasn't released until the fall. Doom 3 was released first, but it didn't steal any fanfare at all - Half-Life 2 is a far better game despite its less-impressive lighting engine. Complete reviews of both are coming soon.

Few weapons of mass destruction will be found.

  • True.

Music piracy will spread, and the authorities and the pirates will get more and more annoyed at eachother, but things won't boil over this year.

  • True.

Some fool will be elected.

  • True.

There will be a medium scale terrorist attack.

  • False. (fortunately)

Microsoft will come up with a new version of Windows, and it will look more like the classic sort instead of the XP sort in terms of colors and style.

  • False. Microsoft briefly toyed with the idea of a Windows XP "Reloaded", but dropped it to focus on Longhorn. In fact, Longhorn was the big joke of the year, losing planned features while being delayed until sometime in 2006. Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released as a massive upgrade that added even more bloat, visually and conceptually. Mark's prediction was closer (see below).

Marco's predictions

Howard Dean will be elected as our next president, but he will not be the man inaugurated in January 2005. Bush will use his family's influence to buy the election again.

  • False. Many of us predicted a better future for Howard Dean. The election was disappointing for a completely different reason: to the best of my knowledge, it seems like Bush legitimately won this time.

Intel's Pentium 4 "E" (Prescott) will be too hot and not fast enough to justify its cost. Its sales will be marginal and people will make jokes about its high heat dissipation.

  • Partially true. Sales have been slow and heat jokes have been made, but because of its low popularity, its price has dropped to slightly below the cost of Pentium 4 "C" (Northwood) chips at the same speed. After finding an excellent deal, I actually bought one.

Intel will release a 64-bit extension to its desktop chips, but it will not use the AMD64 instructions. They will try to use their huge market share to convince Microsoft to make a 64-bit version of Windows for their new instruction set, and Microsoft will politely say "Screw you."

  • Partially true. Intel did release a 64-bit extension to the Pentium 4 core called EM64T, but only in the Xeon line for servers. It's pretty close to the AMD64 instruction set, but there has been no effort to get a version of Windows for it since hardly anyone has actually bought EM64T chips.

Athlon 64 will continue to have a slow start and will always be slightly behind the P4 in price/performance ratio. 64-bit Windows will not be available for purchase during the first half of the year, which may be due to politics between Microsoft and Intel.

  • Partially true. While I wouldn't call it "a slow start", the Athlon 64 isn't selling any better than the Athlon XP ever did. Prices have dropped, though, so they're slightly cheaper than equivalent Intel setups. 64-bit Windows wasn't available in the first half of the year, and it still isn't available. Nobody seems to care.

Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) will be delayed past its current release date of November.

  • Partially true. While it's out in Japan, it's still not available in the US.

We will see slow but steady growth of Tablet PCs and absolutely no growth of Media Center PCs.

  • Completely true.

DVD+R9, the dual-layered DVD+R discs, won't be available until at least June (Philips has promised their release by April). They will be very expensive with bad DVD player compatibility.

  • Probably true. They were available in the fall and given the new name of DVD+R DL, but prices haven't yet fallen from the obscene $10 per disc. Compatibility with DVD players is widely untested because nobody has actually bought any of the discs.

Another company will buy and absorb/dissolve Gateway, or it will undergo severe changes that will essentially remove it from the PC market (for example, they may decide to sell only consumer electronics).

  • Partially true. Gateway actually bought eMachines. They did expand their consumer electronics division, now building HDTVs in addition to their other products, and they tend to focus their advertising on this instead of their PC line. Their PCs have almost completey disappeared from the market.

U.S. call centers will continue to be outsourced to India. Calling any major computer company will still result in talking to Habib in Bangalore. Non-computer companies will see the big savings here and start outsourcing their bitch-support lines as well. Soon it will become standard practice to redirect expensive call centers (mostly those dealing with “customer support”) to India. Any time you need to be walked through something that might take a while, or any time you wish to make a complaint, arrange for a return/refund, etc., you will be redirected to India in an attempt by the company to save a lot of money and get you to drop your complaint because you can't understand the person on the phone at all. People will bitch about this, but they won't organize themselves and take any real actions against it, letting it become an accepted part of consumer life.

  • Sadly, this is completely true.

Software companies will continue to outsource programmers to India, and most of my graduating Computer Science class will have trouble finding non-academic computer-related work.

  • Unfortunately, this is also true.

Mark's predictions

A new Windows will not come out this year. Or next year. We will see Longhorn (aka Windows XP SE) in 2006. And it will cost $200.

  • Correct about the delays - the current release date is 2006. I'm sure the full retail version (not the upgrade) will be $200 - that's how much XP and 2000 are.

The Democrats are going to get clobbered this November. Which is a shame. Especially because they are up against Bush, who is not only running for office, but running for the title of Worst President Ever. Only a big surprise, such as Hillary entering the race, can save them.

  • Correct. Unfortunately, there were no big surprises.

The RIAA will find a new way to get what they want: your consumer rights and your money. The trend towards licences replacing ownership will continue. Consumers will continue to be crushed until some time in the future when they revolt and dissolve corporations or else are killed off, but that won't happen in 2004.

  • True.

Cellphones will become so ubiquitous I'll be forced to get one. People will look at me funny when I say I don't have one, as if I said I don't have a toilet or running water.

  • True.

Tablet PC market share will grow, but will not being replacing typical laptops for several more years.

  • True, although I don't think they'll ever replace laptops.

AMD will reclaim significant marketshare lost to Intel because of problems with the Prescott, giving AMD 3-4 months of unchallenged processor expansion in the first quarter. AMD, if you want to live, run with this now as far as you possibly can.

  • Partially true. AMD was given that opportunity, but they didn't use it very well. Instead, they launched Athlon 64 chips at Intel-like (high) prices, segmented their market further by releasing yet another version of the Athlon 64 (Socket 939), and didn't release a PCI Express chipset. Most AMD fans spend the year waiting to buy, not actually buying - first they waited for Socket 939 CPUs to become cheaper, which didn't happen, then they waited for the nForce4 with PCI Express, which technically "came out" a couple of weeks ago but isn't widely available yet for a reasonable price.

Microsoft will continue to delay 64-bit Windows for no good reason. Linux will continue to make small, unsettling inroads into MS's marketshare, stealing much of the high end business market. Workstations are next. Forget about home users, though, for a long time.

  • True.

Microsoft will release a new version of Internet Explorer which, again, fails to do anything revolutionary. Like tabs. Or FTP that doesn't suck. Or opening a new window from Favorites. Come on, guys, this shold be obvious.

  • False, but not too far off. A new version wasn't released, and Microsoft has almost completely abandoned Internet Explorer development. No new features are planned, and the next new version won't be until Longhorn. The proposed Longhorn version, Internet Explorer 7, doesn't promise anything specific.

Dan's predictions

(Jason helped evaluate the international events in Dan's predictions, since I don't know anything about the world.)

Dean wins Democrat's nomination then pulls a McGovern. Clark runs independently and pulls a Perot.

  • Way off.

Most of Iraq is stabalized. A constitutional convention has started. France whines about it for some technicality. One major attack will succeed in either killing 20-30 Americans, 30-50 international workers/observers/journalists, or 150-200 Iraqis.

  • Mostly false. Iraq is still a mess, and there doesn't seem to be any real progress toward a stable government. Unfortunately, one major attack did kill 20-30 Americans.

Not a whole lot will happen in Afghanistan. We'll hear about it occasionally. There will be occasional skirmishes. The country will remain underdeveloped. Kabul be essentially a city-state.

  • Correct.

North Korea will brag about its nuclear power. The world won't really care. North Korea just wants a hug.

  • Correct.

Chirac will receive international censure for infringing on religious liberties. France, and only France, will consider France a leader in international politics.

  • Not really.

Iran will partially comply with international weapons inspectors. It will be enough to avoid war. Moderates will gain influence as its citizens see the stabalization of a more liberal Iraq.

  • Partially true. Iran did partially comply, but nobody gained influence or stability by imitating Iraq.

There will be fewer suicide attacks on civilians in Israel/Palestine. Sharon's party will lose influence to more moderate groups.

  • Completely wrong.

Gadafi will astound the world by pandering to U.S. interests.

  • True.

Lebannon will become the "new Iraq" except that it won't have any influence at all. It will be respected for standing up to the United States, However, it won't really stand up to the United States. It will do whatever the United States says, then flick it off behind its back.

  • Correct. But this is what most of the Middle-Eastern countries do.