Web OS: The virtual OSes

Ever heard of a WebOS?!! Well neither had I. Here's a quick look at a few. Taken from: franticindustries.com

A Web OS is a virtual operating system that runs in your web browser

1. Craythur

craythur.jpgCraythur is a completely new WebOS that puts big emphasis on looks, and it does that part really well, with a well chosen desktop background and transparent window borders similar to those Vista’s Aero. However, the apps themselves are more alpha than beta. For one thing, they’re mostly not translated from Spanish. They work, but nothing more than that; none of them can hold their own against any decent comparative application, web-based or otherwise. Since this is obviously an application at its very early stages, let’s just leave it at good-looking and come back in a few months to see the progress.

2. Desktoptwo

desktoptwo.jpgIf there’s such things as “serious WebOS players”, Desktoptwo is one of them. It’s a Flash based fully featured WebOS which requires registration to try, immediately giving you your own mini-site and your own Desktoptwo email address to use. Desktoptwo is Flash-based, and while I’m not thrilled about Flash Web 2.0 applications, most of the OSes from this list work in Flash, and I must admit that some do it pretty well. Desktoptwo’s apps can be slow, and a certain amount of bugs are present (when i clicked on Message Board preferences, everything got garbled up), but not so much to ruin your experience with the service. One more thing: Desktoptwo opens in a popup, which is sure to annoy some users.

Feature-wise, Desktoptwo delivers and then some. You’ve got search, clock and sysinfo widget, a dock, MP3 player, RSS reader, Instant messenger, OpenOffice, HTML editor, notepad, and several others. Unfortunately, several of these open in popups, which somehow makes you remember you’re in Windows. Furthermore, if you close the Desktoptwo window and log in again, some of your settings are forgotten. However, your content, for example, the files you save to the desktop, or the RSS feeds you add in the very functional RSS reader are remembered over sessions, which is good. Overall, Desktoptwo does many things well, but it needs to iron out a few usability/UI issues to become a really usable WebOS.

3. EyeOS

eyeos.jpgTaking a bit of a different approach than other sites in this bunch, EyeOS offers you to download the EyeOS server files and install them on your on web server to use as you please. You can also try out a demo which is hosted on the free public server eyeos.info, which also provides free accounts of eyeOS to everyone who wants to use it without owning a private server. The public server is funded through donations, and there’s still quite a way to go, so if you like EyeOS, go ahead and help them.

EyeOS itself is functional, not too buggy, but a bit slow and a bit bland. You have your standard calendar, calculator, address book, RSS reader, simple word processor, file uploader and a few others, but they have pretty limited functionality, and they all look more like test apps than something you’d really use in day to day work. Furthermore, some of the options simply do not work, for example changing the wallpaper.

Although EyeOS seems to be an ambitious project, it doesn’t offer much more than, for example, Craythur. It looks nice, it works, but its apps aren’t interesting enough to actually use it for any serious work.