Steve Ballmer spoke about the impending 'fifth computer revolution' of 'personal empowerment, social interaction and global issues' at his keynote at this year's CeBIT show in Hanover.
Speaking at the show, Ballmer told attendees: "The last time I spoke here was in 2002. In that speech I mentioned that I had been at Microsoft for 22 years and lived through three computing revolutions.
"Now, six years later, I have been at Microsoft for 28 years and I can say that I have lived through four revolutions…they have simply been a foundation for the much more profound changes to come in the next revolution.
Expanding on those four revolutions, Ballmer explained that the first had been the personal computer becoming an affordable and powerful piece of equipment that individuals could get their hands on.
The second, he explained was emergence of the graphical user interface of Windows 95. The third was the rise of the internet, while the fourth was its change from being a static interface, into one that its users can interact with.
Expanding on his reasoning behind the fifth revolution being one of personal empowerment, social interaction and global issues, he highlighted some key trends.
"The first is the hardware advances that are putting more and more processing power into smaller and smaller devices. The second is significantly expanded storage on PCs and devices of all sizes, and in massive data centres around the world. A third trend is the availability of wireless broadband networks everywhere.
"During the fifth revolution, expanded processing, huge amounts of storage, ubiquitous broadband, natural user interfaces and screens everywhere will help us address global warming, and improve healthcare and education for billions of people around the world.
"It will transform human social interaction and make computers more useful and more personal. Access to information, communications and computing capabilities will be seamless and natural."
He also added that the way in which people handle data over multiple devices will change massively during the revolution. "During the fifth revolution this will change. Soon, you will be able to call up any document, photo or media file instantly on whatever device is at hand.
"You will not need to know where your information is stored. It will not matter what device you are using. You will just log on, click and instantly get access."