Top tech stories of 2011 -- so far

Apple, Microsoft, Google and others are givens for being among the top newsmakers of 2011. Others will no doubt surprise us as we go along.

While it's so much easier to look back at the end of the year and reflect on the newsworthiness of a technology industry event than to do so as the event is happening, Network World this year is daring to make our picks for the top technology stories of the year as we go along. We'll update this article regularly -- as news dictates.

would create the biggest carrier in the United States, with some 129 million subscribers. The union also raises lots of big regulatory, competitive and customer service questions, with about the prospects of this deal going down.

Beyond the devastating human tragedy that has been the world's main concern in the wake of Japan's earthquakes and tsunami disaster, the high tech industry has been impacted greatly as well. from Japan and concerns have been raised about as well. in Japan expect months of disruption and were damaged.

Google, Microsoft and Mozilla all released significant new versions of their browsers. focuses on security, speed and simplicity, with greater JavaScript performance, sandboxing technology for Adobe Flash, password encryption and an easier-to-use settings interface. also boasts speed, privacy and simplicity improvements, but with a stripped-down interface, tracking protection, pinned sites, jump lists and enhanced support for HTML5. got a speed boost and several feature enhancements that are so significant that they all have their own proper names, like Panorama, JaegerMonkey and Firefox Sync.