Web-based operating systems?

Librarian in Black mentions Robin Hastings’ pointer to Craythur.com, an apparent web-based OS. There are others, such as eyeOS. As Robin says “I can see this being REALLY helpful for the library’s non-computer owning patrons. Right now, everything that the OS promises to do (calendaring functions, notes, etc.) is available on widely scattered services around the ‘net. This would let them continue to use those services, but keep them all in one place. I can’t see — as it is right now — most computer owning folks finding it really useful, but I can see the patrons at public libraries snapping up the opportunity to have all their online tools in one, easy interface.”


I'm not sure how I feel about the term Web-based OS. I feel like it's Web 2.0 marketing spin. To me, the operating system lies below the applications -- like calendaring and sticky notes -- to mediate how your software interacts with the hardware in your machine (among other basic computing operations).

And, as Librarian in Black points out in her follow-up comments, Google Homepage offers the above Web-based apps, and it goes far beyond. You can have your Gmail, Google Talk, news, etc. And since anyone can write more apps for the Google homepage, there are hundreds of apps you can add to you collection. So, while it doesn't *look* like a Windows or OS X desktop, a personalized Google homepage really has a lot more to offer people who switch between different public use computers.

But, I always fear storing so much important information on someone else's Web servers. There is no assurance of the data getting properly backed up. Who knows when these Web start-ups will just shut down, taking your personal contacts, notes, calendar down with them. In this respect, I feel a little better sticking with Google, who seem to be here for the long haul. But even they are prone to losing data.