Top 10 tech predictions for 2012

3. Windows 8 fizzles

We don’t know exactly when Windows 8 will be released (it might not even make it in 2012), but when it does, we expect it’s not going to be the success that Microsoft is hoping for.

Windows 8 includes the biggest change to the interface the operating system has ever seen. It now opens with the Metro interface, the same one used on Windows Phone 7. It’s designed to make the OS more touchscreen friendly.

This is the new touchscreen-friendly start page for Windows 8.

From what we’ve seen in the Developer Preview of Windows 8, however, what happens is that you’re constantly bouncing back and forth between a touchscreen interface and the traditional desktop designed for a keyboard and mouse. Using the touchscreen Metro portions of the OS with a keyboard and mouse is clunky. Using traditional desktop applications on a touchscreen is painful. As a result, this hybridisation of Windows 8 will manage to upset both types of user, and neither consumers nor businesses will see a compelling reason to upgrade.

4. The NBN will finally get some traction

Not a huge amount, mind you, but a little. For those of us looking forward to the super-fast broadband future, the rollout of the NBN has been glacially slow, focussed on seemingly random parts of random country towns. In part this is because of the deal that Labor made with the independents to stay in power.

The NBN will finally start to hit some of the more populous areas in 2012. Between October 2011 and October 2012, the rollout will pass close to 500,000 new homes, compared to the just 18,000 done by September 2011. It will even start to crop up in certain areas of Sydney and Melbourne, and will perhaps be entrenched enough that the Coalition cannot stop the rollout if it wins the next federal election.

Still, chances are that you won’t be getting it. By year’s end, it will still only cover a small proportion of the population, and it apparently takes about a year between the cable rollout and services coming online.

5. Smart TVs will be everywhere

Now we’re not saying that take-up will be massive – it takes a very long time for new TV technologies to percolate down to the masses, and existing smart TVs haven’t exactly been hugely successful – but there will be a lot of talk and a heap of new smart TV products in 2012.

These TVs will offer YouTube, on-demand video, web browsing and much more from the TV set, and an increasing number will let you install new apps on them, just as you would your mobile phone.  Some will integrate gesture and voice recognition.

Smart TVs will dominate headlines, if not sales.

Apple’s possible entry into the smart TV arena will certainly help in terms of consumer awareness, but all the major TV manufacturers will be announcing new devices in 2012. Expect a good number of internet TV service announcements to go along with this, too. There have already been quite a few in 2011, but 2012 could be the year that internet TV takes off.