As more and more applications move to the net, in the near future the only practical software which you'll need installed on your computer will be a fantastic web browser (i'd suggest Firefox here) and the only hardware you'll need is loads of RAM. This helps people who cannot afford or upgrade, for whatever reasons they might have. But this will ensure that work doesn't stop because of superficial deficiencies. In the next decade, even storage will be handled online, and with bandwidth limitations reducing everyday and internet speeds rising, the time is not far away that you can actually forget to upgrade your computer for long periods of time, since all you need is just a few clicks and addresses away!
Everything is being ported online! From word-processing (Writely) to calendars (30 Boxes), from Mail (GMail) to Instant Messaging (Meebo). The list continues grow almost everyday. Competition amongst companies, mergers and takeovers only add to the thrill of the person still optimistic enough to see that everything around the internet is undergoing a major overhaul! The internet as we knew it doesn't exist anymore. It has evolved to something so amazing, that it doesn't matter if you know how to use it or not. What matters is you know if it exists or not. Ease of use, and usability/functionality is the icing on the cake. And more and more people are dedicating their times and lives to add and contribute to this bubble which I don't see bursting for quite a while now. Now I see how Google's dream of the Grid will come true.
Ofcourse, many applications need to be developed for the net, which will need the hand of the big players or some very dedicated individuals/groups, but the whole idea of 'free' will cause anyone to jump. Lets see how this unfolds! :)
External LinksFirefox : the only browser you'll ever need
Writely : the webs word processor
Meebo : instant messaging without any installations
GMail : the best mail service, web based client
30 Boxes : its your life, organise it!
[UPDATE]: Writely has been officially acquired by Google. [Google Blog, Writely FAQ, A funny take on the whole thing!]
[FIND]: Why an online office is not the thing