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Top Searchlights of 2015: Big data trends, Windows 10 and more

Just in time for the new year, we've rounded up our top Searchlight columns. Read about the year's top technology stories on 2015 big data trends, Windows 10, the Apple Watch and more.

Looking back at the top technology news covered by our Searchlight writers this year, we see some recurring themes. Windows 10 stole the limelight more than once: first, for the huge improvements of the new OS over its predecessor, Windows 8; and second, because of Windows 10's data collection processes that some accused of acting like spyware.

Watson, IBM's cognitive computing system, also made more than one appearance on our list. IBM's Watson Health business unit promises to personalize healthcare, and Cognitive Business Solutions aims to apply Watson technology to industries outside the medical and financial spheres.

Other major technology news stories that drew our readers' attention in the past 12 months include various 2015 big data trends, HP's job cuts, Dell's deal with EMC and the Apple Watch -- did Santa bring one for you? Here are our 10 most popular Searchlight columns of 2015.

Is Windows 10 actually spying on you?

Early reviews of Windows 10 were glowing. But there was one aspect of Microsoft's new and improved OS -- which existing Windows license holders can upgrade to for free -- that rubbed privacy advocates the wrong way. A section of Windows 10's privacy policy reserves the company's right to "access, disclose and preserve" users' personal data when it has a "good faith belief" to do so. Critics said this data collection practice is tantamount to spyware, but what did Windows experts think? Two analysts discussed why Microsoft's new privacy policy didn't surprise them.

IBM Watson Health and the personalized computing era

Earlier this year, IBM launched Watson Health, a business unit that offers Watson technology to large organizations and small and medium-sized businesses. The broad applicability is tied to Watson Health being offered as a cloud-based service, meaning SMBs also have access to Watson's cognitive computing and natural language processing technology, as well as to a wealth of big data from a large customer base. IBM believes the broad access could open the way to better, more personalized care for patients and other nonhealthcare services.

HP cuts 30,000 jobs to stay relevant

Two months before HP officially split into two companies, CEO Meg Whitman announced that the formerly single company planned to cut 10% of its workforce -- or about 30,000 jobs. While industry experts have applauded HP's bold move to restructure itself to innovate and better compete in increasingly competitive markets, they cautioned that it's early days yet. HP's road ahead will require its enterprise business to be more customer-focused and savvy about which areas to invest in for innovation.

Windows 10 lives up to the early hype

When Microsoft officially released Windows 10 in the summer, critics agreed that it was a massive improvement on Windows 8. Its upgrades included a built-in personal assistant, improved user experience, better security, an integrated app store, a revamped Start menu and more. Microsoft also offered a free 90-day trial to get businesses to jump on the bandwagon early -- and many CIOs who did gave it mostly rave reviews.

Cloud-based companies eye Docker container software

Technology giants such as Google, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft, as well as big banks and other large organizations, employ Docker's container technology, touting benefits such as near-instantaneous app launch, rapid scale-out and server efficiencies. But containers, which some experts consider a form of OS-level virtualization, have been around for decades. What's the big news? Experts discussed what makes Docker's container software different, and how organizations could profit from it.

Third-party apps make Apple Watch more enticing to enterprises

Amid huge buzz, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch at a demonstration in March. The company showed off plenty of the device's nifty functions and features, including fitness tracking, calendaring, GPS and a digital crown. But what drew business people's attention was the demonstration of Salesforce Wave, an enterprise-specific analytics app. Read why Wave and other third-party apps could help the Apple Watch play a major role in specific enterprises -- but not in others.

Dell-EMC deal highlights changing CIO role

Many industry followers saw PC giant Dell's plans to merge with storage vendor EMC as indicative of a larger shift in the IT industry: In making the transition to digital, many companies are forgoing owning hardware to buying IT as a service. And this shift is changing the job of the CIO, as their businesses turn their focus to software to stay competitive. Read more about what new responsibilities CIOs will have to undertake to keep up.  

Uber's new privacy policy walks a fine line

Privacy doesn't mean what it once did. Many people, particularly Millennials, frequently divulge their personal data in exchange for convenience and services. The pact has helped Uber's business model boom, despite the company's run-ins with privacy advocates and the livery industry. Uber's new privacy policy, unveiled in the summer, pushed the boundaries of data privacy even further. Seeking permission to collect a user's data even when the Uber app is not in use, the policy gave rise to a new round of concerns about user privacy and big data trends.

IBM wants to bring Watson to all industries with cognitive business group

IBM Watson has made huge inroads in the medical and financial fields, but does it have relevance across industries? IBM opened its Cognitive Business Solutions unit to sell Watson's abilities. The consulting group of 2,000 people is focused on helping companies in the publishing, automotive, and food and beverage industries, among others, to figure out how Watson can address their business-specific requirements. Read on to find out what characteristics CIOs should look out for in cognitive computing technology as they investigate how it can be applied to their business problems and strategies.

Google and Facebook react to Adobe Flash vulnerabilities

Even before it was discovered in July that an Adobe Flash bug allowed hackers to remotely hack into and infect a computer, the multimedia plug-in had been plagued with vulnerabilities and derided by users. This time, however, big-name detractors, including Facebook, Google and Mozilla, joined in the backlash. Mozilla and Google, for instance, blocked the plug-in from their Chrome and Firefox browsers, respectively, until Adobe released a version of Flash that addressed the flaws. And while Adobe has since patched the vulnerability, the regularity with which these bugs crop up is making CIOs' jobs harder.

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