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<Will your next operating system run online? ⁄ >

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The short answer is no. By definition an operating system (OS) is a computer program that manages the hardware and software resources of a computer. At the foundation of all system software, the OS performs basic tasks such as controlling and allocating memory, prioritizing system requests, controlling input and output devices, facilitating networking, and managing files. It also may provide a graphical user interface for higher level functions. It forms a platform for other software.

I think you agree that anything that runs in your browser doesn't match this definition. However, the vast majority of computer users don't know the definition and as long as they can continue their daily tasks (like text editing, sending email, using a spreadsheet, ...) will not care if their user interface runs in a browser. For them I have good news: the answer to the title question is yes and Google may launch a web OS in the near future :).

Personally I think the term web desktop (or webtop - a network application system for integrating web applications into a web based work space) is closer to what you can have today. Why would you use web desktop software? Well, here are some features you will find in current webtop applications: file explorer, file sharing, web based email, blog creator, instant messenger, address book, calendar, chat rooms, message boards, RSS reader, website editor, office productivity applications, online document collaboration. If you are not convinced yet please note that you can have access to this personal desktop and your data without carrying anything more than your username and password from any place in the world (with an internet connection, of course). There are a few choices for this available today - you can see the links and some screenshots at the end of the article.

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