Web2.0, WebOS, WebOffice, We… Whatever.

The WebOS Market Review by Richard MacManus delves into the WebOS market, which is currently being played by small-timers like YouOS, eyeOS, XIN, etc. A WebOS is an OS on the Web that allows you to browse, eMail, chat, etc. Basically, the online counterpart of your desktop OS.

Ok. Stop. Let’ go back to that last one. Online counterpart of an OS? uhh, erm…

Hmm. Let’s try Wikipedia. Wikipedia defines WebOS as:

More generally, WebOS refers to a software platform that interacts with the user
through a web browser and does not depend on any particular local
operating system.

What? Let’s go through this one more time, step-by-step:

I boot my desktop OS. I fire my desktop browser. I connect to the World Wide Web. I access the WebOS. I see my WebDesktop. Now what? I fire up my WebBrowser and access the Internet again?

Er, excuse me, but isn’t that where I am already? So, which one is my, ‘true’, definitive OS? The one I booted to fire the (desktop) Browser, or the one that I accessed on the web? Moreover, how would you access such an OS in the future, given this logical inconsistency?

When I put forth this question, AutomanG replied with the following:

One solution would be to have something, say…, linux embedded into a box that’s sole purpose is to fire up a browser and initiate a tunnel to a remote server (where your webOS of choice is located.) It would be a borderless browser so to you, it would look just like you booted a computer arriving at a desktop.

This sounds really weird! No offense meant, but I just want to explore this a bit further:

Currently, looking at the larger picture, we have three OSes in the Desktop Market. Windows, Linux and MacOS. With this proposal the intention to make Linux a standard (irrespective of whether all people want it or not). Or Windows or MacOS. Some OS which can be universally accepted and moulded as and when need be. Which inevitably brings us back to Linux.

Agree though, the argument that Automan provides makes some sense on some level. Okay, it doesn’t matter what boots the embedded browser as long as what they see on their screens is the same all throughout. Interesting point, I admit.

But again, then there are many options for WebOSes now. There will come a time when we will have to choose one of them as a standard, or maybe, define some standard specs for a WebOS. How do you do that, then?

And if you were to do it later, why not do it now for the desktop OSes? And if you intend to write embedded software to run the necessary hardware, it still is an OS!

I still can’t fathom the need for a WebOS. The ability to store data online, more than makes up for the inability to access my personal desktop everywhere. After all the applications that you intend to put on the Web will be run by their desktop counterparts. What is the point?

Ok, I guess, I oughtta stop. I sound almost desparate now!

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good roundup of current webos stuff their shrikant, thanks.

    I’ve not even looked at one of them yet, but the same thoughts you’d had have crossed my mind. Isnt this just putting an uncessary layer inbetween me an what i need to do?

  2. Shrikant Joshi says:

    You hit the spot!

    All this OS-in-a-browser-on-another-OS sounds crazy to me as well…

    I can’t believe there are people thinking seriously about this. ;)

    Regards,
    Shri.

  3. WebOSs are relevant and potentially huge. For a start, they could bring down the price of computing massively. All you would need on a desktop is effectively a thin client that handles inputs and outputs, and connects to the internet. This has huge and obvious implications for computing in the developing world.

    The applications don’t have to be native to each WebOS, and it makes sense for them not to be. One should have the choice of using Writely or ZohoWriter, say, and not be shoe-horned into using the one built into the OS you choose to use.

    Such a system would also see the end of monopolies like that of Microsoft, because there would be genuine choice in how you interact with your computer.

  4. georgemanty says:

    It’s bad enough that there is so much of our personal information out there in cyberspace. WebOS sets of tons of security concerns in my mind.

    Do I really want a third party to have access to everything on my computer’s hard drive???

    It just sounds like a security nightmare. I really don’t want to dump the contents of my computers hard drive to cyberspace, but that’s just me…

  5. Nick Wilson says:

    Such a system would also see the end of monopolies like that of Microsoft, because there would be genuine choice in how you interact with your computer.

    hehe…. yeh it all sounds very nice and fluffy, and you can call me an old cynic if you like, but the world just doesn’t work that way

  6. searchengineblog says:

    Thin clients, eh.

    The problem is that there is no problem to be solved. In 2006, fat clients (read: PCs) aren’t expensive – bandwidth is. Who is going to trust all their data, and their computing uptime availability to web-based third parties? The potential costs are enormous compared to the cost of a PC running a local OS. How about when you’re working offline?

    I can see scope for limited, non-critical applications, or thin client computing within private robust networks, but for web applications and OS’s to be robust as they need to be then all that will happen is a shift of costs from desktop to network. And it’s difficult to imagine those costs being lower – quite the opposite.

  7. amikael says:

    –If the apps in question need to comunicate inbetween eachother, like in the case with a dialogue window, then a popup seem natural.
    This easily extends into having a wordlike app open in which you can copy and paste into from an spreadsheet app.
    Then it’s more natural if they are both represented by two windows.
    It’s the same interface approach that made the desktop viable on the PC to begin with.
    There would be no need for the dektop on the pc any more than on the web, unless it dealt with the interface issues that arises if the applications need to collaborate.
    It’s the same problem being adressed in both cases.

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