Earlier in the year, Google announced that they are working on their Chrome operating system. Building on their own web browser, Google Chrome, they plan to build a web-based operating system (os) that will be optimized to start quickly, be web-centric and of course, use all of Google’s own web applications.
The idea of the web OS or web desktop has gotten a lot of buzz these past few years, but has anything really caught the attention of the masses? At this point I’d say no — but it’s not due to a lack of options. There are plenty of web based operating systems and desktops available already.
If you’re curious about what the Chrome OS may be like, check out some of these existing services.
Definitely one of the most popular of these existing services is EyeOS. It’s been around for __ years now and hasn’t vanished like many of the web OSes of the past few years. It has a full set of features including an email client, calendar and contacts application and a full office suite.
You have the option to use their hosted version or download a copy and run it on your own server.
Aimed to work on a computer or a mobile phone, G.ho.st offers 15 GBs of storage for free. If you can get past the cheesy graphics, that’s a decent amount of free space.
Startforce is similar to both options above, but it’s unique in one way. Rather than use what they term as ‘water-down Google Docs or Zoho’, they claim to run Microsoft Office or OpenOffice.
However, I wasn’t able to find apps for either suite, but rather their were Startforce branded office applications.
This offering is extremely similar to EyeOS. All the basics are here as well — one difference here is the Linux style application dock at the top center of the ‘desktop’.
Obviously mimicking the Windows 2000 style of interface, I imagine that there are simply not a lot of users that would want to use this web OS. In order to get the full list of features on this service, you must register and verify your account via email.
Another option that chose the Windows look, iCloud from Xcerion is a little more modern looking with it’s Vista-ish theme. This looks one of the more well supported.
It offers most of the applications as the other services in this post, but also goes further and offers some development tools. Check out the full list of applications here.
Another entry in the Linux-style of os, AstraNOS seems a step behind the other offerings. The interface feels a little clunky and its list of applications is lacking when compared to some of the other services.
Visually, Glide is a little different. During the registration process, you are asked what desktop operating system you are most used to. I’m not sure if that actually makes any difference to the end product that you see or if it’s simply a survey of what kind of users they receive.
At any rate, Glide gives you 10 GBs of free storage and also provides a mobile interface.
One of the cleaner, more visually pleasing web OSes, Cloudo is still in beta. But if a web OS is something you’re interested in, then Cloudo looks like it may emerge as a good option.
Like iCloud, it offers development tools so users can create their own applications for the platform.
Another sharp looking option, Jolicloud is not yet available to the public. But their site does a great job of detailing their vision and where they plan to go.
And in contrast to the other listings here, the team at Jolicloud invites users to submit applications that they would like to see included.
This one is a Windows clone. It uses Microsoft’s own Silverlight to run and offers Windows variety applications such as Internet Explorer, Notepad and Paint.
No screenshot available.
The Focus on Small
Many of the web OS offerings were aimed at Netbook users. Google themselves announced that this is the early target audience for the Chrome OS. As devices grow smaller, there will be a continued focus on making media and documents available on every device you use.
A web OS is a good option for this concept. But to date, the concept has not quite been fleshed out enough for most users. But several of these options look like they are making a strong case that this could change soon.
It would be good to see some competition for Google — then everyone is better off.