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Cloud Operating Systems: Glide

Google recently announced the release of Google Chrome OS, which will be an operating system in the cloud. Glide is a fully functioning cloud OS from a company named Transmedia, it is already on the market, and it is even free. We decided to try it; can it replace everything you do on your client desktop? Read on to find out.

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Cloud operating systems is more than hype, they make sense.  Netbooks which is a best-seller are not that powerful, so a desktop solution in the cloud would enable you to sync your Netbook with your desktop.  It would of course give you access to your desktop from anywhere, and it would always be backed up.

Glide OS is designed to be used in a web-browser, which is achieved by using Flash. I am not a great fan of flash as it back in the day often was used to make overdesigned websites with little content or function. But Glide uses Flash beautifully; it even runs in older web-browser such as Internet Explorer 6. All it requires is Flash version 9.0.124.

Glide OS is basically a desktop environment which you can access from anywhere. It can be used from any web-browser, but also have client software for Windows, MAC OS, Linux and Solaris. Even more interestingly there are mobile versions of the client for the Iphone but also for Android, Palm OS, Symbian and Windows Mobile phones. It means that you will have access to Glide from any device.
At first glance Glide it resembles Windows or any other operating system a lot, except that it is in your browser.  A Windows user would instantly feel right at home in Glide, and so would a Linux or MAC user.

The Glide OS Desktop has a number of different features by default, such as Email (yes you get your own e-mail @glidefree.com), Calendar, word processing and so on.  At the top of the screen there are three tabs, Desktop, Glide HD and Portal. Clicking Glide HD will bring the user a file view with music, videos, documents, pictures but also RSS-feeds and a Calendar. The portal part of Glide is basically a flash based directory of websites mixed with stock quotes and chat features.

For some remote reason folders in Glide OS are called containers. Clicking a container will list all files located in there, clicking the small “Go” text in the icon will give you the bubble navigation. This basically gives you other options directly, for example if you want to upload files to the container. This is actually a bit unique, but partly resembles right clicking in Windows.

Glide OS comes with a surprisingly wide array of features and products. Most of them are consumer oriented, such as a media player or online photo editing software. The media player makes it possible to access your music collection from anywhere.  Well not your entire collection since there is a 10 GB storage cap, but the favorite parts could easily be uploaded.

The Cube is another media sharing tool where users upload their videos, music or whatever and you can browse it in a Cube-type interface. It looks very neat but there isn’t a whole lot of stuff in there, and to be quite frank there are better online applications out there for media sharing.

A neat feature, which I have been missing in every Windows version, is a sticky note feature. It is easily accessible in Glide OS from the menu in the footer, complete with color coding, take that Windows 7.

Glide has a number of features built in for collaboration. For example it is possible to share documents, setup online meetings and much more. The only down-side with the collaboration features is that all users engaging in meetings will have to have a Glide account; if you have client meetings it might be a little bit much to ask them to get Glide. It would have been neater if it was possible to use an existing account, with for example Google or Open ID.

Glide can connect with your PC using a desktop client, it is a lot easier than just using the web-interface, especially when uploading files to Glide as you just have to drag and drop the files to your Glide.

The Business side of Glide looks depressing; there are simply not that many features in there. Sure some of the consumer oriented stuff such as word processing and e-mail goes for businesses as well.  But all the media and music features are pretty much useless for a business. However one business application is Glide Crunch, a spreadsheet program. It is a weird application since it is not supported in the web-version of Glide, but it can be use from the client side on a local machine.  Glide OS features documentation, it is both a manual and a quick intro to the desktop, both in PDF.

Glide is ahead compared to the giants like Google and Microsoft when it comes to cloud operating systems. I think Glide is not far from what it should look like, but something happened along the way that makes it very confusing. It is absolutely packed with features, yet I can’t seem to figure out what I should use it for. One answer would be everything, just like Windows. But the point with desktop operating systems is that I can add applications as I want, in Glide I either just create links to other external webpages or use Glides built in apps.

For example I know that there are better cloud word processing alternatives out there, such as Zoho Writer. Yet I cannot use it in Glide, so what is Glide really good for? I love the effort that the Glide team has put in; it is really ground-breaking. But in order for Glide to be great it has to have some kind of main focus, right now it is all over the place doing nothing exceptionally good.

For consumers there is probably more value in Glide than for businesses.  It still has a long way from replacing the desktop operating system, but it still serves as a model for what a cloud operating system could look like.

Published inOperating Systems

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