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The term “cloud computing Build Yourself A Virtual Cloud To Fall Back On Build Yourself A Virtual Cloud To Fall Back On Read More ” has become much more well known recently. From the perspective of someone like me, I guess it means that I can do any computer-related task anywhere without having to install any program at all because everything I need is already web-based. I just need the basic things: a computer, an operating system, an internet connection and a compatible web browser.

Complimenting the cloud-computing concept, a new breed of small and cheap mobile computers called “netbooks” have emerged and are starting to pop up everywhere. Started by the idea of Mr. Negroponte with his project “One Laptop Per Child” now almost every PC manufacturer has their own line of netbooks.

So, where will we go from here? Here’s my two cents: Static desktops will probably move aside because the future is mobility and connectivity. Future machines probably will have more simplified hardware configurations (meaning: cheaper price, smaller size, lighter weight and extremely longer battery life) and armed only with an internet connection, a very tiny simple lightweight OS (I’m thinking about one of the Linux variants) and a browser. Everything else will be available in the virtual world. You might even able to do your office work comfortably from a simple cellphone.

Webtop is the name given to the virtual working environments. Here are some of the free alternatives.

1. ajaxWindows

ajaxwindows web os

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This one has the greatest flexibility among others which I’ve tried so far. You can ‘install’ many available optional applications to the webtop (including iTunes) and use them straight away. Likewise, you can also ‘uninstall’ applications that you don’t like/need. But the sweetest thing about ajaxWindows is its ability to synchronize the document(s) located in ajaxWindows environment and in your own computer desktop and in your moveable storage such as a thumbdrive.

Aside from standard office applications and other useful apps, the user will also get 1GB of storage, an email account, and the ability to upload and download files.

2. iCube Online Operating System

iCube - online os

Almost identical to, but not as rich as, Windows XP. Not too friendly to office works (it only has a word processor) but has enough multimedia applications. It has an old Mario Bros game! The user also gets 1GB of storage, an email account, and the ability to upload and download files.

3. G.ho.st

Ghost

Another Windows clone – and far from scary. Similar to iCube but with more office apps. The things that make this one different from the others are the fatter storage of 5GB, 3GB of email storage, and an additional 1GB for each friend you refer. Just be sure to mention ‘thurana’ when you sign up :)

4. eyeOS

eyeOS

Not everybody likes chocolate ice cream, some prefer strawberry flavour. This one here is definitely strawberry because the UI is similar not to Windows but to Mac OS. Other things that make this one different from the others are the fact that eyeOS is open source so you can use it within your home/office network, and the existence of a Google Earth-like application called eyeTerre which has seven sources of satellite maps.

5. Glide OS

The mobility concept is really here. While others so far can only be used ‘correctly’ via a personal computer’s browser, Glide OS provides users with the real ability to run the webtop from small mobile devices such as a Blackberry, Palm, Windows Mobile, Symbian, and of course Mac OS X in the iPhone.

GLIDE OS

I know that this list is just scratching the surface. So if you can add one or two (or more) other Webtop alternatives for cloud computing, throw them in the comments below! Or if you have used one of these, what did you think of it?

  1. juj
    February 2, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Anyone heard of Tonido? I guess it is built around the concept of a more personal social network type cloud model.

  2. Ron
    February 1, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I personally recommend trying out Deskie, the web desktop, if you like the idea of webtops. The idea behind Deskie is that it acts only as the desktop, while the webpages/applications remain independent, as they were designed to be. You can share your web desktop with others on Deskie too, kind of like the social bookmaking sites.

  3. Maisa
    November 10, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Nice list and great topic!
    Lately much is being talked about Cloud Computing and it's always good to share tips on how the users can benefit from it, having control of content and security!

    I personally recommend icloud, which unfortunately was not listed in here!
    had anyone tried yet?

    Here's a link if you'd like to try it:

    icloud.com/maisa/

  4. tross
    October 22, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Hey Solmn,
    Glad you mentioned CherryPal - I forgot to mention them in my comments. I've been watching you guys since your announce and saw there were delays getting to market and that you added more SSD. When I first saw CherryPal's reference to "cloud computer", I almost assumed you'd have a built-in webtop. From my reading it seems the CherryPalCloud is not as integrated into the user experience than I'd hoped. I'd love to see where you guys take this - lots of luck!

    Tross

    • Solmn
      October 24, 2008 at 11:41 pm

      Hi Tross, appreciate the encouragement! I'm expecting my own CherryPal C114 end of November, so then I'll be blogging about the user experience because I don't yet know what the cloud experience will be either.

      C

  5. Solmn
    October 22, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for this informative article! I wanted to add another entry to the netbooks you identify besides the OLPC - the CherryPal C114, a cloud computer. The CherryPalâ„¢ C114 desktop is about the size of a paperback book, but has the performance you would expect from a full-size desktop computer. Freescale's fast triple-core mobileGT processor delivers exceptional multimedia performance and feature-rich user interfaces, while only consuming as much power as a clock radio. CherryPal uses 80 percent fewer components than a traditional PC, and because it has no moving parts, it operates without making a sound and will last 10 years or more. "The first CherryPals will get shipped on US election day, November 4th, guaranteed. We were able to upgrade the C100 to the C114 for the same low price. We increased the local Solid State Disk Drive from 4GB to 8GB and slightly changed the casing, lighter and slimmer, very cool. I am sure you will like it." Please visit CherryPal 4Every1 (CPFE) http://cherrypal.blogspot.com the number one CherryPal fan site with info on CP discounts, gigs, sitings, buyings and cloud computing and green computing raves...Use CODE CPP206 for $10 off a CherryPal C114 desktop at http://cherrypal.com/SHOP.html

  6. Paul Stamatiou
    October 21, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Take a look at jooce.com/

    I heard one of their founders speak at a conference.. pretty neat stuff albeit geared much more towards an internet cafe oriented culture.

  7. tross
    October 21, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Kris,
    Unfortunately, since most of these webtops are actually running either ajax or flash on _your_ computer, when you open a browser window even from within the webtop, it's actually launching and running from within _your_ browser on _your_ computer on _your_ network.

    eyeOS is a bit different than most since server side processing is a key part of the design - which is public info since it's open source. However, even eyeOS implemented the browser feature as ajax using your local browser.

    I dig the article and have been a fan of webtops for a while. However, I don't think anyone has really figured out the real utility of them. IMHO, they're really about reusing an old tired metaphor from the traditional desktop software days. It's certainly an improvement over the traditional since it is now up in the cloud so you can (potentially) have consistent access and user experience from a range of different devices - e.g. office computer, home computer, laptop, netbook, MID, iPhone, Android phone etc.

    However, aside from central storage in the cloud, what do these really offer? How different is Apple's MobileMe or Microsoft's "LiveMesh"? The desktop metaphor was never all that good at helping users organize their data anyway - so why should we stick with it here? How often do you lose things on your hard drive? Or realize something is on another PC's hard disk? Google desktop shows how ineffective the metaphor is for much of what we do anyway. IMHO, smart search is a critical piece of what we _really_ need as our desktop. What's chrome got to say about that?

    I do like the concept of combining openID, single sign-on, and central storage - good stuff G.ho.st! All we're missing is kick-ass search integrated with your personal storage. Well, and of course a means for your various web applications to access your personal storage - e.g. zoho or google docs. Great I can authenticate and navigate between these services, but what integrates the data? Not sure if this is already working with G.ho.st, but I assume they'll get there.

    Now, how about a standard interchange for the web-equivalent for OLE (Object Linking and Embedding from MSFT) or OpenDoc (aka Broken Doc ;-)? Can I embed a spreadsheet, charts, drawings and photos into my documents? Again I assume if Google, Zoho, et al are headed that way. Of course, to cut across vendors, like a google spreadsheet and a zoho document would require standards.

    • Kris @ Fresh Focus
      October 22, 2008 at 5:55 am

      They do look really cool, but I guess I'm like you in the fact that I don't see a real use to them yet. Sure, it's nice to have a desktop but I don't see a real benefit as of yet.

  8. Huluman
    October 21, 2008 at 8:02 am

    that's a good question, is it possible to use this online OS to access hulu outside of the US?
    Anyone?

    • Jeffry Thurana
      October 21, 2008 at 5:48 pm

      As I've mentioned in my answer to Kris, I think not. You'd have to use US-based anonymous proxy so that any service you access would think that you access them from US.

      Does anybody else know another 'bypassing' method?

    • Jeffry Thurana
      October 21, 2008 at 6:39 pm

      @tross

      I also think that the real value of webtops is the concept of the integration of everything in one place and the ability to access all from any gadget anywhere.

      What we have today is no there yet but on the way. The challenge are getting good and fast internet connection and a machine with enough power to run flash/java/ajax flawlessly.

      From my experience, the webtops are useless if you use slow connection and/or old computer.

  9. Kris @ Fresh Focus
    October 21, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Is it possible to use any of these as a way to bypass blocked websites at a place of employment? I tried ajaxWindows and it didn't work through them.

    • Jeffry Thurana
      October 21, 2008 at 5:39 pm

      Well, AFAIK, since you would use whatever connection you've already used to acces the webtop, no. You can not bypass blocked websites. This one is your admin's privilege and not the function nor the purpose of webtops. However, it is possible to 'redirect' your connection to be able to access admin-blacklisted sites using anonymous proxy services. That would be another long story but for now maybe you could try Toonel.

      • Kris @ Fresh Focus
        October 22, 2008 at 5:54 am

        Thanks - I am behind a proxy so just about nothing will allow me to get past it, unless I bribe the corp IT gods, unfortunately.......

  10. Dave Drager
    October 21, 2008 at 5:39 am

    As much as I like the idea of a web/cloud/internet OS, I've never actually found them usable. They all rely on the web browser and are still web pages - they can't interact with hardware like a real OS. The OS interface, with its desktop, 'start' menu, windows and such is only useful (for me) as a starting point, most of my other applications reside in browser windows.

    Therefore having an extra OS, where you can directly visit the webpage of an app that does the same thing, is just an extra layer of complexity.

  11. omtv
    October 20, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    These web apps look so great!
    But are they really useful?

  12. imdragon
    October 20, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Went ahead and signed on for g.ho.st and put in Thurana for the referral.

  13. imdragon
    October 20, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I went ahead and signed up for g.ho.st and put in Thurana for the referral.

    • Jeffry Thurana
      October 21, 2008 at 11:54 am

      Why, thank you very much.

  14. Zvi Schriber, CEO, G.ho.st
    October 20, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for reviewing G.ho.st, pronounced "ghost" - an acronym of Global Hosted Operating SysTem at G.ho.st.

    In addition to the features you kindly mentioned I would like to mention that G.ho.st has an extensive list of third party apps integrated in your Virtual Computer including
    - Zoho office suite
    - Google Docs office suite
    - Yahoo! Zimbra email/collaboration suite
    - ILoveIM instant messenger (works with GTalk, Yahoo!, AOL, MSN)
    -...

    G.ho.st provides single sign-on to third party web services and tagging for resources across many services like YouTube, Amazon, Flickr, GoogleDocs,...

    G.ho.st also provides bulk uploading of files and 2-way synching of files between your PC and the G.ho.st Drive file storage.

    G.ho.st also works in your mobile phone browser at G.ho.st/m

    We're improving it the whole time so would love to have feedback at forums.g.ho.st. Good luck to the other players as well - we all have the same aim which is to free people from being tied to one device and from the burdens of administration (no more worrying about backup, anti-virus, updating software, etc.).

    Zvi

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