Microsoft will "die and disappear" within the next few years, futurist and ex-CTO of BT, Peter Cochrane, has told Computing.
"Microsoft will die and disappear in the next few years. There is no convergence in IT – what we see is divergence," said Cochrane.
"There has never been an iota of convergence in the IT industry; apps are appearing individually to achieve separate functions," he added.
Cochrane described the future continuation of "one OS" business models such as Microsoft's as "a dream for the dark side of the force".
Cochrane predicted IT will take the form of a "Captain Kirk-style world" in which people will interface with "any screen" in the world through the medium of jewellery-sized personal access devices, or even cybernetic implants.
Cochrane also foresees increased divergence in the cloud, with clouds going live and being populated only for as long as they are required, such as "a cloud for the time you're just sitting down to drink coffee, which will later disperse".
The main thing holding back this more agile form of computing, Cochrane said, is the current technological reliance on hosting applications on devices.
"At the moment, the reason you've got a chunky mobile phone that hurts when you sit down is, it's got to communicate to a cell site between 500 metres and 10 kilometres away, so it needs lots of battery and lots of power.
"But with optical fibre in every home, office and building on the planet," said Cohrane, "you're only communicating 10 metres away, and that gives you great latitude to make much, much smaller devices."
Voice activation, probably being led by IBM's Watson rather than Apple's Siri, will also contribute to a post-desktop world, said Cochrane, as typing "is an unnatural act" and will be easily replaced when computers can intelligently interpret human conversation.