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web desktop applicationFurther integrate your desktop with the cloud. Whether it’s simply adding a shortcut to a web app on your desktop or switching your operating system to a cloud-oriented system, there are many ways for the modern computer user to look toward web-based systems instead of desktop ones.

We love web apps here at MakeUseOf; our mission is to write more about what you can do online than what you can do with your computer offline. As time goes on however, the line between the two is increasingly hard to define. If you embrace this wholeheartedly, you might want to take some active steps to blur the web and the desktop. Let’s take a look at some ways of doing so – some simple, some complex.

Chrome’s Web Apps

The most obvious place where the desktop and the web is blurring is, of course, Chrome. Their new web store Google Chrome 8: Introducing The Chrome Web Store Google Chrome 8: Introducing The Chrome Web Store Read More is made up entirely of applications that run within your browser.

web desktop application

Did you know, however, that you can add direct shortcuts to such applications on your computer? Simply open a new tab, then right-click the application’s icon. You’ll see an “add shortcut” option. Click that and you’ll be able to add an icon, either to your system’s menu or your desktop. This works on Windows, Mac and Linux, so try it out.

Having such shortcuts on your desktop make web apps feel more like desktop apps, which is fitting. Most people today regularly switch between the two types of applications. But Chrome’s not the only game in town for that.


Mozilla’s Prism Project

Mozilla has been in on the web app scene for a while. The Prism project Run Web Apps on your Desktop with Prism Run Web Apps on your Desktop with Prism Read More allows users to create site-specific browsers for any web app.

web desktop app

Fluid For Mac

Love the Prism concept, but want something speedy for your Mac? Fluid’s got you covered. Making use of the Safari engine, Fluid is well integrated with your Mac system. It even creates functional dock icons, with indicators:

web desktop app

Jolicloud OS

Do you really want to blur the line between the operating system and the web? Try out Joli OS, formally known as Jolicloud Jolicloud: The Operating System Download for Netbook You've Been Looking For Jolicloud: The Operating System Download for Netbook You've Been Looking For Read More . This operating system is built from the ground up to make web apps the primary function of the operating system, and it does a good job. Use this system for a while and you’ll forget there’s a difference between your computer and the web.

web desktop app

You can get a taste of what this is like without installing an OS, by installing the Jolicloud app for Chrome. If you like what you see, install Joli OS later.

Chrome OS

web desktop application

Of course, the ultimate foregoing of desktop apps for the sake of the browser is Chrome OS. Official laptops running this operating system will be on the market this summer, but for now there is an unofficial download for you if you’re brave.

You’ll have access to Chrome’s web apps, and you’ll get to see how Google things the future of computing should look.


Google, and a number of other companies, are looking to surplant the traditional desktop paradigm with web-based desktop applications. Whether consumers will fully embrace this or not is an open discussion, but it’s pretty clear that many already have. Millions use Gmail and other web-based email clients instead of a desktop alternative, and even more make use of web-based word processors and photo editors.

Do you think the web will eventually replace the desktop operating system? Leave us some comments below, as well as any predictions you might have. Or share other ways you blur the desktop with the web.

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  1. Saikat Basu
    June 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    In my opinion, both will continue to co-exist for some more time. Security and connectivity will remain as concerns for now. You can also throw Apple's iCloud into the mix.

    • jhpot
      June 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Security is a mixed bag. If you lose your laptop, and your email and contacts are stored on it, you're screwed. If they're stored on the cloud you need only change your password and the thief, regardless of if they have your laptop, will be kept out. I trust Google with my security way more than I do myself.

  2. Mitesh Budhabhatti
    June 10, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I do not think any cloud OS can replace desktop OS.. bcoz now its a competition time.. suppose today my data is on google.. i would always be in the doubt abt my data.. what would happen if google stops some features or if google raises the fee once we are dependent on it or if it does not support some feature which others support and I badly need those or any such thing!!!

    • jhpot
      June 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      If that happens, you should be very happy you choose Google. They have some of the best migration tools out there, so they would be easy to leave behind.