I really wish that the people who are making these stupid ass statements about how the days of the desktop are numbered; and the cloud with the help of mobile computing is going to rule the world, would get their heads out of their asses.
In the almost twenty-five years I have been involved in this industry I have lost count of the number of times that I have heard the same pronouncements. Whether it be from thin clients to universally cross-platform software I've heard it all before and yet here we are with increasingly powerful machines that don't look to be slowing down along with an increasing number of multi-monitor setups.
Alan Patrick at Broadstuff has a great overview of what he refers to as The Computer Hype Cycles which suggests that every ten years we go through the same type of bullshit hype as companies try once more to lock more and more people in to proprietary cycle of computer use and data storage.
It's funny how soon people have forgotten the debacle of Corel's massive investment into a web based Java edition of the Wordperfect Office Suite. A move that almost bankrupted the company into oblivion. This is only one of the numerous attempts over the years to have people believe that the desktop was dead and everything could be done through the web.
Microsoft got smacked around badly over its idea of and Active Desktop only to have widgets become the hot property. The problem is that the widgets today are proprietary to the platform you by them from.
The idea that the desktop is dead, dying, on the way out is a fallacy. The latest proponent of the fallacy is John Herlihy the head of Google in Europe were he says that "cloud-computing opportunity will make sure that every mobile device will be capable of doing rapid-scale applications."
On the surface this sounds great except for the fact that it doesn't matter how powerful some mobile handle held becomes there is no way that they can come close to providing a rich real-world working (or entertainment) environment.
The idea that people will be programming large scale corporate, or even home, software application on something like the iPhone is ludicrous and stupid. The idea that building todays, and the future's, web sites and services will be done on a Nexus One only shows that you are an idiot or you don't know what you are talking about.
Then we have the whole problem with two things that have to do with cloud computing: constant accessibility and security. At this point security on the cloud is laughable. Just read you news outside of the tech bubble. Read some serious security related blogs. Watch the real news about companies and governments whose clouds are being hacked into.
This doesn't mean that desktops as we perceive them to be today will exist in the same box and dual monitors we use today. I totally expect that within the next five to ten years we will see one of the biggest shifts in what a desktop computer is to a point where is might not even be recognizable when compared to what we use today.
Given projects like Project Natal and other natural user interfaces I totally expect that computers in the home and business will be an ambient entity that is far less a rigid box but instead a network of interacting modules that will make up a home computer or an office (cubicle) computer.
Yes mobile computing will become more important but to suggest that the idea of desktop computers - or whatever they morph into - as being a dying technology is nothing more than self-serving statements by people and companies that have a vested interest in getting all your data into systems they control.
It has nothing to do with what the people will need or want.