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Summary:

TransMedia will release on Monday an ambitious new version 4.0 of its Glide OS web desktop environment. Designed to run within any popular browser, it bears some distant resemblance to the cloud dreams that Google has for its upcoming Chrome OS, but heads in unique directions.

TransMedia will release on Monday an ambitious new version 4.0 of its Glide OS web desktop environment. Designed to run within any popular browser, it bears some distant resemblance to the cloud dreams that Google has for its upcoming Chrome OS, but heads in several unique directions.

Glide OS has traditionally competed with other “web-based operating systems” such as Startforce and ajaxWindows.  In previous versions, it has drawn strong positive notices from PC World and other reviewers.

The new version 4.0 extends Glide’s focus on cross-platform, cross-device, browser-agnostic collaboration and applications. You can download it free as of Monday here, and run it as you would run a plug-in in almost any popular browser. Glide OS offers collaboration, productivity and syncing applications which you can use directly from its online desktop. You can use Glide’s own word processor, presentation app, groupware environment, email client, and much more, and Glide OS comes with 15GB of free online storage. You can upgrade storage from there for $4.95 in 20GB increments.

Speaking of keeping data online, that’s not the only option you have with Glide OS — an important difference between it and Google’s upcoming Chrome OS (which unlike Glide, works with local components and cloud-based ones). Chrome OS forces users to store and work with data exclusively in the cloud. That may very well be too autocratic a model for many people. Glide OS allows you to work with both local and cloud applications, and store data either locally or online.

According to Transmedia CEO Donald Leka, Glide OS’ new version is targeted to work on more devices and platforms than before. “We support over 100 mobile devices and convert file formats on the fly for them,” he said in an interview. “If you and I are sharing two spreadsheets produced in two different versions of Microsoft Office, it will automatically do the conversion. Or it will convert, say, a QuickTime file to a Windows Media file if needed.” He added that Glide OS has custom synchronization apps that work for everything from Windows applications and files to Android-based ones.

As has always been true, some people shy away from web-based operating systems due to security concerns involving working with and sharing data online, but Glide OS has historically gotten high marks for its approach to security.  It will  be interesting to see how this approach to merging the OS, the browser and applications turns out on Monday. In the meantime, I asked Leka for a number of screenshots, found below.

Social and presentation features are built in – see the “Participants:”

Glide OS integrates with popular search engines and social apps:

Glide OS does file format conversion on the fly:

By Sebastian Rupley

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  1. “Web-based operating system” is not so different from “AJAX” in that it is a new name applied to something that happened a long time ago. It was a good 5 years after most of us had been building “AJAX” apps that someone paid enough attention to make up a name for what we had been doing and act like it was something new. Here, 14 years after Java applets, we have an attempt at another such branding.

    Almost anything could be considered a “web-based operating system” – client-side Java, Silverlight, Flash… even (cringe) “AJAX.” In fact, this new phrase seems to cover almost any technology that could be called a Virtual Machine.

    It is ironic that the success of such a technology is inversely proportional to its capability. Apple won’t allow a VM, but if a VM is just dumb and crippled enough (perhaps with a stupid buzzword accompanying it?), it might slide under the radar.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. If you want to look at a real “web-based operating system” or “state-of-the-art VM” consider the Adobe Flash platform.

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  2. Glide OS has a rather unique value proposition – cross platform compatibility based on device identification and automated file translation.

    Glide provides support for Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris, Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Palm Pre, Symbian and Windows Mobile, over 250 different file formats for automated file translation based on device identification and over 100 mobile phones.

    Glide is not tied to any particular server type, desktop OS, mobile device or application suite. Glide’s support for all major platforms, automated device recognition and real-time file translation makes it possible for users to access file types without purchasing new hardware or software, creates a cost effective and flexible alternative to manual file conversion and standardization and exciting possibilities for cross-platform collaboration.

    Glide is effectively addressing the costly hardware replacement and software upgrade schemes of the big tech companies like HP, Sun Microsystems, Dell, Microsoft, Apple and Adobe making it possible to dramatically reduce the cost of replacing hardware and upgrading software.

    The wonder of technology is that there are always new developments that emerge that transcend our understanding.

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    1. I wonder how much they go beyond simply exploiting Flash’s cross-platform nature. Will check out their iphone version…

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  3. Apple DOES allow a VM, in fact, several, including Java, Silverlight AND Flash — and Flash isn’t even that state-of-the art (no strong typing, anonymous functions, garbage collection, generics, WS-I support, etc.)!

    From the articles written about it & what I’ve seen Glide appears to use a lot of web services and therefore the client doesn’t matter — flash, ajax (javascript), c++, obj-c, c#, java, ruby, et al. — anything that can speak SOAP or HTTP (POST/GET/REST)…

    …and Glide’s been around since 2003!

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    1. When did you last look at Flash?

      http://www.communitymx.com/content/article.cfm?page=5&cid=54207

      Strong data typing, generics

      http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/articles/garbage_collection.html

      Garbage collection

      http://livedocs.adobe.com/flash/9.0/main/wwhelp/wwhimpl/common/html/wwhelp.htm?context=LiveDocs_Parts&file=00000751.html

      Anonymous functions

      http://srinivasannam.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/using-webservice-dcd/

      Web services-related features of Flash Builder 4.

      As far as Apple not allowing VMs: sorry I should have been explicit that I was referring to the iPhone. Right, they never minded VMs on the Mac, particularly when it was struggling, but now with success VMs are perceived as a threat.

      The client does matter; it is a rich client. Services are used and “cloud” storage is used, that is the business model, but the hype is all about a rich client that is cross-platform. Services support it but the client is still critical. You can compare the Mac and iPhone versions of Glide to see this.

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  4. Glide is not Flash based. Glide has native applications that are C++, AJAX, Flash, Java and Java Script. Glide appears to be service oriented so it seems Glide’s point is that the client doesn’t matter.

    “Exploiting” Flash? Adobe supposedly wants developers to use Flash – as long as they don’t get in front of Adobe’s cloud computing plans. Adobe is late to this game and Flash is losing favor. Besides who wants to do word processing in Flash? Ugh…

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  5. Oh, I see, there are distinct versions that do install native code – I was using the version on the web. No iPhone app, though… the web version on the iphone is disappointing.

    I didn’t mean “exploiting” in any bad way, I just meant “using” – sorry for any confusion. It is great that Flash does allow applications to offer full functionality “apps” inside the Flash platform across different OS’ and devices.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Glide is a cool concept, I just don’t think it’s an OS. Will check out the native versions and see what they’re like.

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    1. No worries. I also think Flash is great for certain things. The Glide iPhone web app has a lot of functionality. Just upload some photos, music video and documents from your desktop to your Glide account and you will get a better feel for what it does. All of these cloud computing platforms are early in their development but it is great that we will have more computing options in the future (not just Microsoft, Apple etc).

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  6. I agree that it’s kind of off-the-mark to call these web environments operating systems, since their plumbing consists of web services and the like, but it is a good way to telegraphically communicate what they try to do. There have been quite a few of these, such as ajaxWindows and EyeOS. Glide does appear to be moving in ambitious directions in terms of doing on-the-fly file format conversion and working with lots of devices. Those are key efforts if it is to succeed.

    Sebastian

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  7. [...] the interface is clunky and not aligned with the browser experience very well. If this is the future of convergence between operating systems and the Web, I don’t want [...]

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  8. [...] the interface is clunky and not aligned with the browser experience very well. If this is the future of convergence between operating systems and the Web, I don’t want [...]

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  9. [...] the interface is clunky and not aligned with the browser experience very well. If this is the future of convergence between operating systems and the Web, I don’t want [...]

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