Cloud computing will replace the desktop by 2020. This is the view of a group of experts outlined in a new report by Pew Internet, the overview of which states: A solid majority of technology experts and stakeholders participating in the fourth Future of the Internet survey expect that by 2020 most people will access software applications online and share and access information through the use of remote server networks, rather than depending primarily on tools and information housed on their individual, personal computers.

They say that cloud computing will become more dominant than the desktop in the next decade. In other words, most users will perform most computing and communicating activities through connections to servers operated by outside firms.”

Key findings of the survey reveal that:

  • 71% of survey respondents agreed with the statement: “By 2020, most people won’t do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Instead, they will work in Internet-based applications such as Google Docs, and in applications run from smartphones. Aspiring application developers will develop for smartphone vendors and companies that provide Internet-based applications, because most innovative work will be done in that domain, instead of designing applications that run on a PC operating system.”
  • 27% agreed with the opposite statement, : “By 2020, most people will still do their work with software running on a general- purpose PC. Internet-based applications like Google Docs and applications run from smartphones will have some functionality, but the most innovative and important applications will run on (and spring from) a PC operating system. Aspiring application designers will write mostly for PCs.”
  • Most of those surveyed noted that cloud computing will continue to expand and come to dominate information transactions because it offers many advantages, allowing users to have easy, instant, and individualized access to tools and information they need wherever they are, locatable from any networked device. Some experts noted that people in technology-rich environments will have access to sophisticated-yet-affordable local networks that allow them to “have the cloud in their homes.”
  • Some experts in this survey said that for many individuals the switch to mostly cloud-based work has already occurred, especially through the use of browsers and social networking applications. They point out that many people today are primarily using smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers to network with remote servers and carry out tasks such as working in Google Docs, following web-based RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, uploading photos to Flickr and videos to YouTube, doing remote banking, buying, selling and rating items at Amazon.com, visiting with friends on Facebook, updating their Twitter accounts and blogging on WordPress.

The full report can be download from this link.