Thursday, August 5, 2010

Microsoft's 2019 - Where are the developers?

A little known fact is that Microsoft invests heavily into developing technologies for the future. Every now and then these researchers look to the future and into how to turn what is being developed as pure research into reality. Nearly a year ago Microsoft released this video of how productivity will be in year 2019 (ten years after the video was released). I just recently saw the video for the first time, if you have not seen it you should check it out here:

After I watched the video I was left with a few thoughts, which I'm sure was the true purpose of the video. The over arching theme in the video was that productivity will shift from application based to task based. By this I mean instead of thinking I need to open up Word to work on some research paper, I will instead have a research task that has a word document associated with it along with all of my research references and my collected data. At first glance it isn't that big of a change, users already associate related files/material together by creating folders or some naming scheme. You need to look a bit deeper, instead of the user associating files together with some type of organization, the computer will automatically discover context and associate the correct material together. It is a very cool idea and one that I am sure will come true some day. The question I think is how do developers get involved?

Since the world is not slowing at producing computer scientist, they will need jobs in year 2019 just like they need them now. So if we assume that a lot of these things come true, especially the task based productivity, what do these computer scientist do? Well clearly, a lot of the computer scientist will help develop the software that is capable of detecting the correct context and making sure this stuff stays secure. These are the developers that work for companies like Microsoft and other top software companies. What about the rest of the developers? Like the ones that do open source, developers for hire, or work for a small software company. What will they provide to an end user?

Cloud services are featured all over the place in this video. Data is everywhere you are. How does an open source developer be part of this type of world? I think it will be a lot like it is today. Protocols will be open enough to allow anyone to interface with the cloud. In order to make this possible, these protocols we will need to move from today's free services that are paid for by ads to paid for services. This will happen due to privacy concerns and cloud services will have trouble placing ads so the user will be interested in them. Interfaces to the cloud will be what open source developers are creating. Microsoft and other propitiatory software will still exist along side open source software, like it is today.

Well these other developers could not write custom applications anymore. This is because applications no longer exists. So they must provide a task environment. Now the question becomes, what does it mean to provide a task environment? This is a difficult question because we have never seen one yet. I would expect a task will resemble a rule set, where developers tell the host system in which context input should be handled by the developer's task. Then host system will provide the windowing environment and placement of the data in the user interface.

What are your thoughts?