Jul 8, 2006

YouOS Web Operating System

Seriously speaking, the title of this article is a bit misleading. YouOS is more like a bunch of useful apps put together that distantly resembles an operating system like Windows or Linux. Indeed, the application works on your browser, which itself requires another operating system to run. However, the idea is to have a virtual desktop that you can access from a Web enabled device, from anywhere around the world.

The system is in alpha testing, and what is more, it even comes with your own little shell for all that command-typing wizards out there. And as can be expected, 'ls' and 'mkdir' is about as advanced it gets. But what really impresses me is the idea behind it.

To actually have an operating system that runs on the Web is quite intriguing, something like even more personalised computing for people who are always on the go. We inevitably comes across a paradox in this situation though - how can you access an operating system that runs on the Web because don't you already require a Web browser to access the site? Hmm.

The idea is not that new, actually. In these very columns, I had toured another similar application - Goowy. It also had its own desktop, text editors and stuff and also a very attractive email system. What makes YouOS different is that it is done using AJAX instead of Flash, as Goowy is. Not that being done in AJAX itself merits more credit, it is just that I find the whole AJAX thing very interesting.

YouOS gives you the ability to write your own app for the system, and if you think that is not your cup of tea, you can install other apps from a nice little collection that you can browse within the system. You even get virtual sticky notes that you can set as reminders.

For sometime now, the idea of the Web based Operating System has been doing the rounds on the Web. Once we get around the paradox we mentioned before, maybe we will get to a real Web OS. Something like where the software for starting up the computer itself is received from a remote server, and all the usual operating system routines like IO, File and memory management is done by a remote service. I don't know if something like that exists already, forgive my ignorance if it does. Are the giants of the Web listening?