The future of computing according to HP

"Today we still make it far too hard for an individual to connect to the network," he said. He envisages a seamless hand-off and connection between network. "Our view is that customers don't care what connection [protocol] they use."

McKinney cited the case of mobile phones that have several different radios - GSM, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. "We can see devices in five years time that have as many as 12 different radios," he said. "You'll [be able to] set priorities on whether you want to prioritise bandwidth. Or price."

McKinney believes federated, consistent networks will be in place by 2015, with mesh networks everywhere by 2020. "You want the same experience anywhere in the world," he said. "You want...no such thing as deadspots."

Whether this is a realistic aim remains to be seen. He did add that mobile broadband should be commonplace by 2010.

Pocketable devices

McKinney then moved onto pocketable devices, saying there will be personal devices 'for all purposes' by 2015. "What is the PC of the future?" Will it have what I call a fat OS?" he asked, slightly worried about what Microsoft might have to say about his précis of Vista .

HP predicts a new device category, called 'strong-specific' that will define portable devices. "There may be a few multi-function devices, but most will be good at only a couple of things," says McKinney. He thinks we'll have devices that specialise in only a couple of things and "satisfy specific needs". The new iPhone , says McKinney, fulfils this edict.

"A Palm or an iPod do a couple of things very, very well. Part of what we're seeing is that more functionality injects complexity."

HP also predicts a change in how we learn how to use things. "The best example is our current move to Vista," said McKinney. "We're all in the process of relearning things in Vista. We're adapting to the device." The company reckons that by 2020 devices will be better at adapting to us, rather than the other way around.

"At HP we've been working on these devices for some time," said McKinney, with a wry smile. He knows there's a way to go before his company can practice what he preaches.