Monday, August 3, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #81: Rant about Browser as OS as Browser

The more I think about it, the more I like the concept of the browser being the operating system...well, at least for travel computers, like my netbook and possibly a non-primary full-sized notebook.

On either my heavy-lifting desktop or my daily-use netbook, I only use a few separate applications on regular, if not daily, basis. While not a complete list of my app habits, these are the usual suspects:

1. A browser, like Firefox;
2. A media player, like iTunes;
3. A PDF reader, Adobe's Acrobat reader;
4. A word processing/spreadsheet suite, like either Open Office or MS Office;
5. A regular calculator because I can't do arithmetic anymore;
6. An FTP program;
7. A PDF printer (saves trees, you know);
8. A simple text editor, like Notepad;
9. A picture editor, like Photoshop or GIMP;
10. A digital audio workstation (DAW), like Pro Tools.

...not to mention all sorts of applications-taken-for-granted working in the background.

A cloud-based operating system like the anticipated Google Chrome OS could fulfill my personal simplistic daily computing needs for many of the above categories:

1. Chrome OS is the browser;
2. I'm not yet willing to exchange my local multimedia for a solely streaming experience, and maybe Apple might port iTunes to a Linux-kernel OS this time around (I'm not holding my breath, though);
3. Google has a PDF reader in Gmail;
4. Google Docs;
5. Javascript and Flash calculators are everywhere on the Web;
6. A browser add-on could do FTP;
7. If you can install a physical printer, then you can install a virtual one, theoretically;
8. I'm pretty sure Chrome OS will have a text app, and if not, a compose email window could suffice;
9. This task might be best left for a more powerful machine;
10. I should actually upgrade to a workstation-class PC to maximize my DAW experience.

...and I guess that the browser/OS will have all sorts of app-like add-ons that would be fun for some, but otherwise useless in the long run for others.

Other than the heavier - arguably artsier - tasks, a cloud-based operating system would be great to use on the go and for daily use. The biggest potential problem involves the security of saving your files on the Internet, as opposed to (or in addition to) saving it locally. I think I'd be okay if I could save a word processing file locally and an ultra-encrypted backup would be sent to the associated Google account for safe keeping. And the safe-keeping would work both ways, too, because who knows what might happen to Google's servers at any point in the future?

Anyhow, I can anticipate that I would be interested in trying Google's upcoming OS if and when it arrives. I spend most of my netbook experience with an open browser, typing away (like on this blog, right now) anyway. I don't really care about the OS, as long as it remains relatively stable, so that I can do the aforementioned InterWebs-related tasks.

In the meanwhile, I definitely have to check out Google's Chrome browser (which I must've said months ago but never made good on) and compare it with Firefox. And then compare potentials of the browser-as-OS with various OSes I've used (and liked!): XP, OS X, Ubuntu, and various lightweight flavors of Linux.

I really like how this rant has a relatively positive tone, and I totally forgot I've previously bought in to many of the aforementioned companies while writing the above paragraphs. Good vibes for all! Cheers!

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