What About a Web OS?

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We've talked about the Mac OS; we've talked about Linux and at least one other UNIX-based operating system. Today, a News.com piece brought the concept of the Web OS front-of-mind. Writer Martin LaMonica says the discussion begain more than 10 years ago with Netscape, but it heated up again recently with Lazlo Systems' release of Lazlo Webtop -- software that enables users to run "desktop-style applications" in a Web browser.


The Web operating system goes beyond a Web portal, not because it fully meets the technical definition of an operating system, but because it requires both client and server software and because it looks/acts more like an operating system to the end user than a portal page does. With Webtop, for instance, users can run the mail client, a contact list and instant messaging in the same browser "container," according to News.com.


Other providers -- such as start-up YouOS -- are trying to be more literal with their use of the term "operating system." As a YouOS cofounder explained:

We're trying to build a single place from which you can access your data, and run a multitude of applications, written by anyone in the YouOS network. Ultimately, we want the data and apps on YouOS to be accessible not only through any browser, but from any number of devices. Your stuff, anywhere, anytime, anyhow.

Similarly, tools to be offered via Xcerion's XIOS (Xcerion Internet Operating System) are intended to allow end users rather than software developers to create XML-based Web applications.


Fellow IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle suggested last week that the days of the desktop OS are numbered. If he's right, Web or Internet operating systems may be part of the reason why.