Despite Google's move into the operating system space with Chrome OS, the idea of a primarily cloud-centric OS is nothing revolutionary; the earliest examples date back to 1999. There have been numerous other attempts at developing web-centric OSes. But so far none have truly broken into the mainstream.
However, some current offerings present welcome alternatives to mainstream operating systems, packing in useful features and making it easier to access your online content. Here are five to try.
Currently in beta, Cloudo is described as offering everyone a "free of charge computer" as it lets "every computer - at school, at work, at your friends' or even in the library" become your own. That is, Cloudo lets you log into your user account from any location. Cloudo is also reasonably flexible: you can customise the user interface, and developers can also develop their own applications for the platform.
Cloudo is expected to officially launch next year, but you can try the beta right now for free.
Now at version 4.0, Glide syncs your online desktop to your mobile device, allowing for a fairly constant connection to your data.
This Flash-based web desktop supports multiple users, just like your home PC, and offers an impressive 20GB of cloud storage, all without any adverts.
A project that started in the summer of 2008, Jolicloud is currently an invitation-only affair. Jolicloud is targeted specifically at netbooks, much like Chrome OS will be. A wide range of compatible devices can be found on the Jolicloud website, and the list is growing.
The idea behind Jolicloud is to create a more 'organic' OS, removing the need for costly software by using web alternatives.
You can follow Jolicloud's progress on Twitter.
EyeOS is one of the most established cloud-centric OSes, having been around since 2005. Since its launch the open-source cloud computing OS has gone on to gain support from various companies and organisations.
With a wide range of bundled software - including office software and a development environment - EyeOS is a great alternative to Chrome OS. You can try it now here.
We're not sure what Microsoft would make of this one. Powered by Silverlight, Windows4All mimics the desktop environment of Windows 7.
Offering many of the basic programs that ship with the real deal, such as Paint, Notepad and Solitaire, Windows4All is more of an experiment than a legitimate Web OS. Either way, it still makes for an interesting in-browser experience.
This makes up just a few of the currently available web OSes. If you've tried any, be sure to leave your recommendations and comments below!