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The term “cloud computing” 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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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?