During the past few days we have been reading about several different approaches for the future of computing that appear to have a common theme. Or are the themes the same?

On one hand we have a memo from the head honcho of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, telling his people that the company needs to embrace the cloud. In a small excerpt of his memo he states that:

My goal was to challenge people to look at the cloud more broadly and understand the multidimensional nature of the cloud transformation happening today. Other companies have defined the cloud in a narrow, one-dimensional way. Although these companies provide some interesting components, Microsoft is uniquely delivering on a wide range of cloud capabilities that bring increasingly more value to our customers.

To keep our momentum, it is critical that  every Microsoft employee works to deliver the full benefits of the cloud to our customers.

Of course, there is more work to do. We have strong competitors. We need to be (and are) willing to change our business models to take advantage of the cloud. We must move at “cloud speed,” especially in our consumer offerings. And we need to be crystal clear about the value we provide to all our customers.

Over at Google, the head of their European division made a startling statement, in which he has made a prediction that the desktop PC as we now know it, will be dead in 3 years.  His statement stunned his audience when John Herlihy of Google Europe said:

“In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant. In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs,” Herlihy told a baffled audience, echoing comments by Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the recent GSM Association Mobile World Congress 2010 that everything the company will do going forward will be via a mobile lens, centring on the cloud, computing and connectivity.

So what does this all mean?

I believe that we are heading towards an era when small devices such as smart phones, mini laptops and other future devices will be using an operating system that may not be powered by Windows. There is a possibility that these devices could be powered by a derivative of Linux such as what Google is using in their new Chromium operating system. The devices will no longer ‘boot’ in the traditional sense and will most likely be instant on devices. Storage in the traditional sense will be limited and the devices will be using cloud computing to store your stuff on a companies server. The traditional hard disk will die and the newer SSD will be replacing these mechanical devices.

So will this all happen in the next 3 years? I seriously doubt it will. For any of us Window users who have tried Linux, we know the obstacles that must be over come to get people to make the switch to something they are not familiar with. Though I applaud Google and their attempts to come up with an alternative to Windows, it is still unknown exactly what Chromium will be and how well it will work for the average home user.

The problems with cloud computing come down to trust. Will we trust any company to store our data on their servers? How safe will our stuff be if we do? Will our data be hack proof?

These and other questions remain. I believe that a 3 year prediction of the death of the PC is self serving and wishful thinking on Google’s part.

Just my two cents.

What do you think?

Comments as always are welcome.

Source – Microsoft memo

Source – PC will be DOA