Northern hemisphere summer 2017:
Ada walks into an electronics store to buy a new, larger pad, as she earned more than enough credits with her free-software contributions, recently. Instead of giving the old pad into a reuse-or-recycle program, she just handed it down to her little brother. Of course only after cleaning it of all her data and customizations with a single command (and a confirmation). The system automatically made sure there was a complete backup on her personal virtual server, first.
All the available devices, be it pads, laptops or wearables, have one thing in common: they come with a pre-installed system, but one that supports a common standard for installing an operating system environment of your choice. Or several in parallel. Ada chooses a pad to her liking and pays electronically, using a scheme that involves a one-time proxy account. This minimizes the information that the shop and her bank gain.
The new pad is ready for action on the push of a button. Plugging in here little key card—she tends to wear like jewelry—allows Ada to establish a secure connection to her server, despite using wireless.
2 touches later, her preferred system gets installed by pulling the base from the next public server and applying a patch-set that represents the changes she made while using the old pad. Differences in hardware are accounted for automatically, by use of a number of profiles and device-categories. She tests the configuration with an obscene gesture bound to a custom command … alright!
Both the software modules and her documents she accesses on the go are kept on the server and cached on the pad, though she can manage what is kept where and synced when in as much detail as she wants to. Downloading and installing has become just using it (almost) immediately. Ada recalls vague memories of how laborious migrating data and settings and keeping things in sync used to be and smiles :)