When it comes to looking to the future, Microsoft may not be the place to seek predictions.
Microsoft is never a good place to look for predictions. In 1995, Bill Gates wrote a book called "The Road Ahead" that was his predictions about the future of computers. It didn't even mention the Internet in its first edition; a second edition was rushed into print a short while later talking about the Internet.
More recently, Microsoft released a movie on YouTube about where they think computers are headed. I think they got it horribly, and somewhat hysterically, wrong; I even posted the video with commentary in my blog
. Microsoft's vision has never been particularly good.
And yet that's exactly what OS X is as well.
I don't think that's really true.
When you look at Windows versions at and before Windows 3, you see a basic windowing system and a primitive program manager running on top of DOS. From the windowing manager, you don't really have access to the file systems. Icons in the Program Manager are links to the applications; documents don't appear in the Program Manager at all; you can't open a window onto your hard drive and see a graphical representation of the files on it. Essentially, what you had was DOS, then a windowing API and a windowed program launcher.
That's not the case with OS X at all. While there still is a Unix kernel underneath it, it's *just* a kernel. You can run OS X without a Unix terminal at all. The APIs, libraries, window managers, and so on represent more than just a graphical shell running over a command-line operating system; you can strip out the command line operating system altogether, if you so desire, and OS X and its apps will still run.
The basic MacBook Pro and the basic iMac cost the same, so yes, there would be an added cost for a large monitor. however, it's not that much, and the point of the article is that mobile, portable machines with a common OS seem to be the coming thing.
They are the coming thing. I suspect that what we currently think of as computers, cell phones, and laptops are headed for a merger, and devices we'll be using in fifteen years won't bear a lot of resemblance to any of those things we use today.
But here's the thing--those mobile devices will probably still be an adjunct to some kind of larger machine, either sitting on a desk (or perhaps *in* a desk) or living in a server room somewhere. The realities of the laws of physics are that you'll always, with any given level of technology, get more processing bang for your buck when you don't have to worry about form factor, battery life, and so on.
As for memory, I wouldn't be surprised if at least part of the ultimate purpose of "The Cloud" is to eliminate the need for all but minimal memory, electronic, and, therefore, physical, in devices.
That was the idea behind dumb terminals and mainframes back in the early days. That model has a lot of limitations.
The problem with a cloud-based approach to computing is that shuttling bytes over a large distributed network will always be slower than shuttling bytes over the bus inside a computer. That's not a big deal when you're shuttling around l ow-res graphics or text files or whatever, but some tasks simply can't be done that way. As Net connections get faster, computers also get beefier, and people want their computers to do more.
You can keep your music in the cloud, or your word processing files in the cloud, but can you imagine working on large Photoshop files from the cloud? Editing feature-length movies from the cloud?
Plus there are a lot of social and legal problems we as a society haven't sorted yet. Say you store files in Google Docs. The police can subpoena them from Google, and compel Google not to even tell you that they have been turned over to law enforcement. Is that a good thing? What are the ethical and legal ramifications? If you keep files in the cloud, and someone breaks into your service provider and steals them, who's legally liable? If your competitor steals your client records from the cloud, can you sue your provider? What level of security is a cloud storage provider legally obligated to provide?
I'm a little confused by what you're saying, but here's what I see: in the not-too-distant future, we will carry around our "phone" which will actually be the "head" of our computing system. it will have plenty of local storage which we won't necessarily need as most things will be cloud-connected (I think I just read that some chip manufacturer had just achieved a terabyte on a square inch), and the processor will be ample enough for nearly any computing job that most people and businesses will need. at home, I walk to my desk where there is a large monitor and wireless keyboard/pad and I don't even need to take the phone out of my pocket. the same is true for work, or Starbucks... big screens on the wall, keyboards, all connect wirelessly to my phone. add in a headset, SIRI, etc., and sure, the "phone" could be implanted in my arm.
There are a lot of problems with that scenario.
With any given level of technology, smaller systems will likely always cost more than larger systems of the same capacity. Laptops cost more than desktops of similar specs, because there are additional problems with power, heat dissipation in a small form factor, and so on, and so on.
So a desktop will always be less expensive than a laptop of similar capacity, which will be less expensive than a tablet of similar capacity, which will be less expensive than a palmtop of similar capacity. Or, put it another way, for any number of dollars X you spend, you will be able to get a larger, more powerful system for X dollars if it isn't portable.
Whether the processors in small devices will be ample for any purpose we put them to is a bit of a pickle. As processors get more powerful, average users put them to uses that would have been unthinkable only a few years before. I think that it will soon be the norm to interact with computers with voice and gestures, and we will expect computers to become very good at figuring out what we want from ambiguous information. That takes a LOT, and I do mean a LOT, of processing grunt. Siri is still appallingly primitive and it requires a supercomputer-class back-end infrastructure to work. As we get computers with more and more ability to interact with humans in a natural way, the lag of offloading that grunt onto the cloud may become less acceptable.
Computers that are implanted in our bodies sound neat, but there are two big problems: upgradability and medical ethics.
Upgradability is an obvious one. A less obvious one is that, right now, in the United States and some other countries, any medical procedure intended to "augment" human capacity is considered medically unethical, and is forbidden by law. For example, it is legal to make a retinal implant to help blind people see; it is against the law to give it capabilities that normal humans don't have, like the ability to see infrared or ultraviolet.
It is legal to give a deaf person a cochlear implant to help her hear; it is illegal to make a cochlear implant that would give her better hearing than a normal human, or to wire that cochlear implant with BlueTooth so that a deaf person can use a cell phone with it (the latter has actually been tried in the US).