By Jared Newman | Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:30 am
One thing that first drew me to netbooks was the idea of living on the cloud. After losing everything on my last PC in a horrifying motherboard fire, I suddenly wanted to have as much as possible running over the Internet.
So JoliCloud’s netbook operating system, reportedly going into alpha next month, is an exciting prospect. In terms of running programs and storing files, “cloud computing” is just a snooty way of saying you do everything from the Web, but JoliCloud fancies things up a bit by sticking Web applications right onto the desktop. By fine-tuning a version of Linux, the makers of Jolicloud say their operating system is fast at booting and smooth at surfing.
Aesthetically, the screenshots I’ve seen give JoliCloud a smartphone kind of vibe. Apps are lined up in a grid with big, easily clickable buttons (it’s a natural fit for touch screens, if you’ve got one). Putting popular Apps — Gmail, Facebook and the like — front and center is a smart move: The OS seems less random than Moblin’s smattering of Web pages and more Web-oriented than Ubuntu Netbook Remix.
My main concern is how these applications will be handled beyond the initial interface. Hopefully, they’ll act like widgets, popping up seamlessly without acting too much like a Web browser window.
At the same time, I wouldn’t want to lose the things that Windows does well, namely easy access to and control over things that do reside on the computer. To put it another way, I’d want JoliCloud to act like a PC at some times and a cool e-mail/social media gadget at others.