Thursday, January 14, 2010

Web Operating Systems - The future of computer interfaces?

For the last few years various companies have been experimenting and deploying virtual desktops commonly referred to as Web OS’s.  These Cloud Operating Systems do not install to your computer or laptop, but open up in your browser.  They give you familiar desktop environments with everything you need to be productive.  Storage space ranges between a couple gigabytes, to almost limitless space.  So what is the point of such an environment when all its doing is “imitating” your desktop?

The purpose of such environments is to provide the mobile power user a place to work on documents, spreadsheets, surfing the web, and checking the email without risking security on unsecured computers and networks.  However, is it truly protecting you?  You are still logging in to these environments.  You are also not masking any activities as it is still packets of information on the current network.  The only real benefit these environments offer is an integrated environment to do everything the average, and power, user utilize in cloud computing today.  Not only that, but also in a familiar environment that the user can already manipulate and function in.

Web OS’s are not only doing these things already, but also introducing us to a computing world where the hardware is becoming obsolete.  With such environments, all we need is a desktop kernel with a browser that will allow us to get online to access our computing environment.  We will no longer need to install a desktop operating system that will put us back anywhere from one hundred dollars and up.  Web OS’s are a great replacement concept for netbooks that need Operating Systems that aren’t designed for 300 dollar video cards and 4 gigabytes of RAM.

Google’s Chrome OS is quite possibly the very Operating System that will open this door way up to every single netbook user looking for a cloud based alternative to the baseline installed operating system.  A single Desktop Environment that will be the same exact environment from every single computer they own.  Whether they use a laptop, desktop, smart phone, gaming console, or any other internet connected device with a browser, they will always be able to access all of their files, and in most cases their very desktop.  All with the ability to access documents, spreadsheets, emails, and more without having to worry about compatibility, space, or if the software required to view such files is even installed in the first place!

The major draw back to such a method of computing is that the user must ensure that regardless of where they are, they have some form of internet connectivity.  Whether that is via WiFi, wired network, or tethering, if the user has internet connectivity, they will always have access to that desktop environment.

Some believe that the Web Operating System is the future of desktop computing, removing the desktop from the actual Operating System, and limiting the installations on the computer limited to the kernel and a browser.  Again, perhaps Google is a possible innovator and propagator to this evolution?

1 comment:

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