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Online Operating Systems: A Web OS Must Return!

Updated on July 13, 2008

In 2003, when GM withdrew and crushed all the electric EV-1 cars in existence, they were widely criticized for being in cahoots with the oil companies and destroying their own technology that would challenge the predominance of the petroleum giants. As it turned out, GM just wanted to be rid of a source of future lawsuits as the EV-1 electric technology was not ready for prime time and they were selling each car at about a 50% loss anyway. If GM had "secret" automotive electric technology, do you think that they would still be sitting in Detroit sucking their collective thumbs as they slide closer every day to being forced to declare Chapter 11, at a time when the hard-pressed and financially-desperate American public refuses to buy any more 12 mpg obscenomobiles?

There have been countless similar criticisms fired at Microsoft and to a smaller degree Apple for secretly defusing the threat to their empires posed by the various Web Operating Systems which have, more or less mysteriously, failed to ever catch on.

Let's take a moment to look at what an Operating System (OS) does. It gets your computer to boot from the BIOS startup and get to a desktop function where it provides the underlying foundation for running whatever applications you desire. That's it. Nowhere in the OS description does it say that you need to have it bundled with a Media Player, a Web Browser, a Word Processor, an Image Viewer, etc. etc. etc.

An OS tells your computer how to handle the demands you make on it. That's all it should do. Therefore an OS is a very small chunk of code which for no reason whatsoever should cost up to $400. What you're paying for is all the "Window"-dressing.

At a time when the number of computers connected to the web is surpassing one billion, exactly why do we have to have 10 Gigabyte monster OSes that we have to pay through the nose for, just to do what we want to do? If the PC is connected to the Internet all the time anyway, why not just have a micro-OS that takes over from BIOS, gets us onto the desktop, connects to the internet, and then have an online "application" like the Google Suite of apps actually operate our computer from that point onwards?

A Web OS is not a new idea. A company named WebOS devised a perfectly workable system back in 1999 which then became Bindows and went off into the enterprise space, never to be seen by the public again.

Now that online applications like Google Docs and the accompanying Suite are finally starting to take off, having to overcome market inertia with skeptical computer users that simply can't believe that they can actually type a letter and run a spreadsheet without forking over $679.95 for the Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007, why shouldn't a new Web OS be introduced?

Just think of it. Freedom at last from the Microsoft/Apple tyranny without having to result to Linux and its perplexing catch-bag of quirky characteristics. A PC turns on, connects, and presents you with a fully functional desktop that resides on a server somewhere. No muss, no fuss, no bother and best of all, no cost. From there you can access a wealth of online apps to do everything from surf the web to write the Great American Novel. Also all the way they should be. Free!

Get me an Adobe Photoshop that runs online and I'm in!


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