I caught some early impressions of iCloud over at WebWorkerDaily and thought it was right up my alley. The beta service is free to try and runs a virtual operating system in your browser. It’s lightweight and best supported on Internet Explorer at the moment: Firefox support is an alpha, although it worked fine for me this morning. Well, there were some compatibility warning pop-ups, but that’s to be expected for alpha browser support.
If you take a look at iCloud and you’re familiar with Microsoft Windows, you’re sure to see some similarities. The user interface is very XP-like, although there’s an optional sidebar that’s Vista-esque. Applications are fairly limited — you’ll see a basic Write app and a Mail app, for example, as well as a bunch of games and such. Call me crazy, but if I was creating a “web OS,” I’d look to put desktop applications in it that aren’t readily available as web applications. There’s already a number of online document editors that are accessible in a browser and most mail applications are also available through a URL.
Still, this is just a beta and I’m not writing it off by any means. The interface is clean, performance isn’t bad and there are a number of collaboration and sharing options available. I plan to watch the iCloud form over time and give it a much closer look as it matures. With a very basic device, connectivity and a web browser, the iCloud is an idea that has merit.