A Web OS? Probably Not, But Web's Edging Toward Interoperability

Loraine Lawson

There have been numerous attempts at building a Web operating system, but obviously nothing's quite taken hold. This week, ComputerWorld takes a look at the challenges and realities of a Web OS and, as it turns out, interoperability and integration are key issues.


It's an interesting look at a topic that seems to have fallen out of favor, although perhaps it's out of favor for good reason. The article's conclusions suggest there may never be a true a Web OS. Instead, the focus is shifting toward more of a standards-based, Web platform that can run multiple Web applications, minus the OS


Apparently, even Google and Mozilla have abandoned the ideal of a Web OS and are content to let a desktop OS handle the dirty little hardware details. Still, not everyone has given up hope.


The article goes into some depth about recent developments that might support a Web OS or platform, looking at the usual suspects-Google, Twitter-as well as innovations by other sites of which you may not be aware. I was particularly intrigued by the discussion about how the hashtags used on Twitter and Facebook might evolve to support more context between Web applications.


The piece also covers standards that might help create better Web interoperability. According to Chris Messina, a consultant and Web standards advocate, the key existing standards are:

  • OpenID, which is a single-sign-on standard.
  • OpenSocial, an API that enables social networks to share data.
  • Oauth, an authorization standard used with protected data.


While we may never get a true Web OS, the article explains that we are already moving toward a Web that's more interoperable between applications, which could lead to applications that support greater collaboration and context.

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