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While the idea of an Internet-based operating system has already been explored through offerings such as YouOS and EyeOS , Xcerion, a small Swedish company, is taking an ambitious new approach to the idea. The company’s XML Internet Operating System/3 Beta (XIOS/3) is best described as a “Cloud OS” and Web 2.0 service. I’ve been testing it on a Windows machine, loading XIOS/3 in Internet Explorer (you can’t yet load it in Firefox), and it generally looks promising.
XIOS/3 has many of the properties of an operating system (though strictly speaking it is more of a Web-hosted environment), and is targeted at online application development, collaboration, and sharing of free applications. It is XML-based, and uses AJAX to connect to back-end servers. If application developers begin to collaborate using it, it could become a promising new open-source platform and a flexible way for web workers to get jobs done.
XIOS/3’s desktop looks very much like the desktop that a Windows user is familiar with, complete with a sidebar on the right that resembles Google Sidebar (a clock, a weather widget, etc.), and tabs along the left that take you to programs you can run in the environment, a search engine, an XML editor for working with applications, and more.
Xcerion is backed financially by former Microsoft executives, and reports have already surfaced that XIOS/3 may begin to compete with Google and Microsoft in delivering numerous types of Web applications and services. For the time being, I see it as more of a Web 2.0 service that allows for collaboration on sophisticated online applications and sharing of those applications. It’s also in a limited beta version right now, so you need to apply to test the beta.
XIOS/3 allows you to do work offline and then automatically synch the work up with your data and applications when you go online. If I open up, say, a simple cash flow application and start changing values in the underlying data, then I go open another browser, my changes to the data will be reflected in the view in the second browser. In this way, web workers could easily collaborate on transaction-based, database-centric applications.
XIOS/3 also allows you to save data on your own hard drives, if you wish, or it can be stored online. Also, applications execute locally, so XIOS/3 is faster to use than some of the other Internet-based operating system offerings. It also has a very clean and easy XML editor.
To a large extent, the success of XIOS/3 will depend on coders building and sharing applications with it—just as standard operating systems have always depended on developers for success. You can find many screenshots of XIOS/3 and forthcoming applications at Xcerion’s home page. There is also a video demo and other information at the company’s blog.
The business model is to offer XIOS/3 and applications for it for free. In my own use, I found it stable, intuitive and good for collaborative application development. But what Excerion absolutely needs next, as is true in the Linux world and throughout the open-source arena, is enthusiastic developers.
Would you consider using a collaborative, browser-based spin on an operating system? Have you used any of the other Web-based OS offerings?