John Herlihy claiming that the desktop is irrelevant in three years. I will give you my ideas on the future of the desktop too.
For many years I actually believed that the desktop was going to disappear. The main reasons where the lack of portability and the inconvenience of having multiple devices and the fragmented information sources. My way of solving this was a single laptop, that over time got smaller and smaller. It became my single source of information and I accepted the disadvantages of computing power and screen real estate.
This worked all very well, until advances in technology solved the single source of information problems. Today with an abundance of cloud based solutions and information storage there is absolutely no need to have everything on one single device. it's a lot safer and much more convenient to have all your information stored in a single place, accessible from anywhere at anytime.
Since all information is stored in a single place, all you need a device to access and use the information. This actually opened the door for more specialized devices, smart phones, slades, tablets, netbooks, laptops and desktops are just a few examples of devices to be used. All have their specific use, some are great to constantly carry along, others for trips and some are perfect when you are at home. Screen sizes vary and this also brings specific usages.
Desktops are here to stay, it's one of the many devices we will use for specific purposes. In my situation I've recently bought a 27" iMac and nothing beats the enormous screen real estate.
Image credit: Geoff Stearns