Snover joked that programming is getting so abstract, developers will soon have to use Microsoft's in-air motion sensor game controller for the Xbox, dubbed Project Natal, to "write programs through interpretative dance."
Other programming gurus, such as Herb Sutter, lead designer of Microsoft's C++/CLI programming language, predict that writing code to run on bare metal may come back into fashion, as chipmakers find themselves unable to keep boosting processor speeds at current rates.
"I think we have maybe five to 10 years left [with Moore's Law]," he said. "Optimizations will get very, very sexy again, when people realize how we pay for abstractions."
Also, Sutter said, programmers need to start writing apps optimized for parallelized, multicore PCs, which have been available for the past several years.
However, significant improvements to multicore programming languages are needed first, said Burton Smith, a Microsoft technical fellow and expert on parallel programming languages. "Today's [multicore] programming languages are pretty low level and not very productive. They take a lot of human attention and effort," Smith said.
It will be a long time before parallel programming becomes mainstream, he predicted. "Because of the bias towards sequential programming, we'll still be reinventing ourselves [as parallel programmers] 12 years from now," he said.