Jul 16

When a “Web OS” hits, it will be so much more than a browser launcher!

Tech, Web Browsing with tags: 18 Comments »

original by mwboeckmann

Everyone got in a tizzy over the Google very-early-darn-leaks-pre announcement of Chrome OS. There have been many attempts at a “launch into browser” system, and the timing / marketing hasn’t been right. The journalists have by and large shown that they do not understand any nuance and could only think to write about the external battle of the titans (Chrome OS to destroy Windows!) or the internal battle of the titans (Android vs. Chrome OS).

The news is so early, that it is mainly a no-op right now, other than showing that to get to that point, Chrome will probably be extended quite a bit (access to more native services etc). I am a believer that this has to happen (hence Gears fan), but I also do worry that it will be rushed. We don’t want to fork the Web….. but let’s wait and see.

What I find most interesting though, is that I don’t think that the world needs a computer that boots almost-solely into a browser.

Kent Beck was talking about how he is using Chrome Browser OS right now as a social experiment. Yes. We can all delete every application from our machines and maximize a browser and live in it. That isn’t what will be exciting about a true Web platform.

I have been playing with a Windows laptop, and what has interested me is how much I can get done because my world is available through the browser. Back in the day, if I was at a friends house, I would download putty.exe and telnet/ssh into my world, and it would be ugly text. Now, I can jump on a random computer and access my entire social environment (email, twitter, etc). I can get real work done. One of the reasons that we did Bespin was to extend that to coding too.
This brings me to my benchmark for when I think a web OS will be here.

If I can sidle up to a random computer and have access to everything that I can do on my own laptop, then we have made it

Ironically, I almost used to be able to do just that! In university I could login to any machine on campus and see my screen exactly as I left it. I want X back baybee! ;)

We are getting closer, yet still a ways off. I hate the management that I have to do with iTunes. I want to by the license to play music, and have my collection in the cloud, and sync’d in smart ways. I want to be able to set profiles for what is downloaded and offline-available on my laptop versus the media server vs. the ball and chain’s laptop vs. my phone.

I want my settings to follow me around. Another reason why I am so excited about the future of Weave-like services. Let me login to the browser and get my history, passwords, awesomebar setup for me. Go further, and let me “switch user” on the persons machine and have the login be an identity service like Open ID, Facebook, Weave, or what have you.

When we have an open identity system that works, with services that let you take your entire world with you hooked to your identity, then we can talk about how cool the Web platform is as an OS. We will have moved up the services stack from managing the state of windows on the screen, to higher level services.

Marry this to auto syncing of data between all of your devices, and you have a truly new world. Give me that world, not just and autoexec.bat that launches browser.exe :)