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Top 10 tech traumas of 2007

Facebook, Microsoft Zune, iPhone and more

From disappointing operating-system updates and social-networking scandals to high-definition wars and PC security nightmares, 2007 was full of disappointments.

We’ve looked at all of the big software stories from the past 12 months to come up with the 10 products, companies, and industries that left the most sour taste in our mouths. From last to first, here's our list of the year's biggest losers. Read 'em and weep.

10. Web 2 woe

Memo to Badoo, Bebo, Catster, Dogster, Facebook, Faceparty, Flickr, Flixster, Hi5, Hyves, Imbee, Imeem, MySpace, Mixi, Pizco, Pownce, Takkle, Twitter, Virb, Vox, Xanga, Xing, Zoomr ... and the 3,245,687 other social networks clamouring for our limited attention spans: we got it. Making connections between friends is cool. Sharing photos and videos, even cooler. But it's all so... 2006. Haven't you got anything new to show us?

Here's a safe bet: Two years from now, 90 percent of these networks will be gone and their founders will be back working at Starbucks. I'll have a double mocha frappucino, please.

9. Internet security - an oxymoron?

In 2007, the words 'Internet security' joined the ever-growing list of self-cancelling phrases, alongside 'business intelligence', 'Congressional ethics', and 'Microsoft Works'. This year, bot herders proved they could harness enough zombie PCs to take down an entire country's infrastructure for a month. Estonia eventually recovered, but our notion of Net invulnerability hasn't.

According to McAfee's Virtual Criminology Report, some 120 governments are actively engaged in web espionage and cyber assaults. Meanwhile, private criminals used the Storm worm to create a botnet for hire containing millions of zombies - enough to take down a major network. And while the FBI's Operation Bot Roast nailed a handful of domestic bot herders, that leaves several thousand more to go, most of them living beyond the Feds' reach. Three-quarters of cyber attacks in 2007 originated outside the US, according to Symantec's most recent Internet Security Threat Report.

As with global warming, there's plenty of blame to go around - for everybody from developers of insecure software to home users who blithely log on without inoculating their PCs. Let's hope they get more of a clue in 2008.

8. Microsoft Zune

Microsoft got a chance to do things right with its 'iPod Killer' in 2007. And Zune 2.0 was certainly an improvement - offering 80GB of storage instead of 30GB, wireless syncing, improved touch controls, and a choice of Nano-like 8GB players in a variety of bright colours (Pepto-Bismol pink, anyone?). But Microsoft failed to lose the Zune's proprietary DRM scheme or remove all its restrictions on wireless music sharing (you can share songs with other nearby Zune users, but they can only listen to them three times before the songs go poof). So it's probably just as well the device is still not available in the UK.

We're not the only ones disappointed in the Zune. According to the NPD Group, Microsoft still lags behind Sandisk and Creative Labs in market share for portable media players. And for every Zune Microsoft sells, Apple sells 30 iPods. Remember: you can't kill an iPod if you can't get close to it.


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