Web desktop

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A web desktop or webtop is a desktop environment embedded in a web browser or similar client application. A webtop integrates web applications, web services, client–server applications, application servers, and applications on the local client into a desktop environment using the desktop metaphor. Web desktops provide an environment similar to that of Windows, Mac, or a graphical user interface on Unix and Linux systems. It is a virtual desktop running in a web browser. In a webtop the applications, data, files, configuration, settings, and access privileges reside remotely over the network. Much of the computing takes place remotely. The browser is primarily used for display and input purposes.

The terms "web desktop" and "webtop" are distinct from web operating system, a network operating system such as TinyOS or distributed operating system such as Inferno. In popular use, web desktops are sometimes referred to incorrectly as web operating systems or simply WebOS.

History[edit]

In the context of a web desktop, the term Webtop was first introduced by the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) in 1994 for a web-based interface to their Unix operating system. This application was based on the provisional application entitled "The Adaptive Internet Protocol System" filed Nov. 13, 1997, serial number 60/065,521 and is the U.S. patent for the technology used in the Tarantella Webtop.[1] Andy Bovingdon [2] and Ronald Joe Record, who both explored the concepts in different directions, are often credited as the inventors.[3] The initial SCO Webtop, developed by Record, utilized a Netscape Navigator plugin to display applications in a browser window via TightVNC. A trademark application for "SCO Webtop" was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on November 8, 1996. In order to avoid confusion with the more complex technology incorporated into the Tarantella Webtop it was abandoned on December 24, 1997 by The Santa Cruz Operation.[4]

Bovingdon's three tiered architecture (TTA) concept was launched as the Tarantella Webtop. This technology originated from early commercial use of web server technology by SCO. the first OS vendor to include a commercial web server, NCSA HTTPd, and commercial web browser, NCSA Mosaic. Their X.desktop product line, obtained when they acquired IXI Limited in the UK, was the first to have icons for URLs (controlled via the Deskshell scripting language) and an HTML-based help system, called DeskHelp, which extended the NCSA Mosaic web browser to include APIs and scripting linked to the X.desktop product for interactive control. The IXI Limited scripting language based on Python was later replaced with Javascript. Tarantella allowed real UNIX and Windows applications to be displayed within a web browser through the use of Java to form a true web based desktop or Webtop.

The first SCO Webtop releases were part of SCO Skunkware[5] before being integrated into SCO OpenServer version 5 and UnixWare 7. Tarantella was subsequently purchased by Sun Microsystems and integrated into their Sun Secure Global Desktop.[6]

Byte magazine referred to the Webtop as a NUI (Network User Interface).[7]

More recently, Google released an operating system for web connection called Chrome OS and several 11-12" netbooks from Acer and Samsung have implemented the system.

Comparison of web desktops[edit]

The following tables compare general and technical information for a number of web desktops.

Name Browser support Developer Engine Free License 3rd party applications Productivity Suite Graphical user interface Downloadable to Web server Still Active
appFlower IE6/7/8, Firefox3/4/5, Safari, Opera, Chrome AppFlower ApS appFlower based on PHP + AJAX No Open Source: GPLv3 Yes Yes Customizable Yes Yes

Feb-2012

AstraNOS All Browsers AstraNOS Team PHP, AJAX, JavaScript, WebWorkers, WebGL Yes Open Source Yes No Customizable, 3D, Leap No Yes
Borneosoft All Browsers Borneosoft JavaScript, HTML5 Template:Yes (FREE Edition) Proprietary Yes Yes Mac+Windows-like No Yes
CloudTop All Browsers CloudTop XIOS/3 Yes Proprietary Yes Yes Windows-like No Yes
eyeOS IE7/8, Firefox3, Safari, Opera, Chrome eyeOS Team PHP + AJAX No Proprietary Yes Yes Customizable Yes No
FullyOS Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE7+ Pradac Informatica HTML5, PHP, MongoDB No Proprietary Yes Microsoft Office Web apps, Zoho Windows-like No Yes
G.ho.st IE6+, Firefox2+, Safari. Partial: Chrome & Opera Ghost Inc ("G.ho.st") Flash + AJAX (mobile version is WAP) No Proprietary Yes Yahoo! Zimbra, Zoho, Google Docs, ILoveIM Windows-like No No
Glide OS IE7, Firefox 3, Safari, Chrome TransMedia HTML5 Yes (30 GB limit) Proprietary From Glide Community Glide Write, Glide Presenter, Glide Crunch, Photo Editor, Email Mac+Windows-like No Yes
Inevio Firefox 5+, Chrome, Safari, Opera, IE10 Inevio Inc HTML5, JavaScript No Proprietary Yes Yes Mac+Linux+Windows-like No Yes
Nivio IE7, IE8, Google Chrome, FF 4 Sachin Dev Duggal, Saurabh Dhoot In development No Proprietary Yes Yes Windows No No
Online OS FF 1.5 and higher, IE7 iCUBE Network Solutions Java, Ajax Yes Proprietary Yes Yes Windows-like No No
OX App Suite FF, IE 9/10, Chrome, Safari Open-Xchange JavaScript, HTML5 Yes Backend: GPLv2 Frontend: Creative Commons Yes Yes Customizable Yes Yes
Pinemango Any browser capable of HTML5 Pinemango HTML5, JavaScript No Proprietary Yes Yes Windows/Linux No Yes
Qube-OS Firefox 12.0+, Chrome, Safari, IE10 Qube-OS Team HTML5, JavaScript No - Yes Proprietary Yes Yes Mac+Linux+Windows-like, Customizable No Yes
Symbiose Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, IE10+ Symbiose HTML5, PHP, JavaScript Yes Open Source: GPLv3 Yes Yes Customizable (default: Elementary OS, available: GNOME Shell, GNOME Panel, Windows 7-like, CLI) Yes Yes
SkyDesktop Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, IE InfoStreet Python, Ajax Yes Proprietary Yes StreetSmart, Google Apps Customizable No Yes
Oracle Secure Global Desktop Any browser with a JRE Oracle AIP No Proprietary Yes Yes Customizable No
universeOS Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera Transparency Everywhere HTML5, PHP, JavaScript Yes Open Source: GPLv3 Yes Calendar, Documentwriter, Tasks Mac+Linux+Windows-like Yes Yes
VMware View IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome VMware PCoIP, RDP, HTML5 No Proprietary Yes Yes Customizable No Yes
xOS Webtop FF 5.0+, Chrome 12+, Safari XProduct HTML5, PHP, JavaScript Yes Open Source: GPLv3 Yes Yes Mac-like No No
ZeroPC IE 8/9, Firefox v12.0+, Chrome, Safari ZeroDesktop, Inc. HTML / HTML5, JavaScript, Java Applet, AJAX Yes Proprietary Yes Thinkfree Office, Cloud Storage Mashup, IM Windows-like No Yes

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ US patent 6,104,392, Shaw , et al., "Method of displaying an application on a variety of client devices in a client/server network", issued 2000-08-15 
  2. ^ Andrew J Bovingdon presented a Human Computer Interaction poster on the subject of Webtops at WWW2 in Chicago, 1994 entitled "Adding a new dimension to the desktop", http://web.archive.org/web/20041231084638/http://archive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/IT94/Agenda/Posters-received.html
  3. ^ The Santa Cruz Operation Technical White Paper, Tarantella --The Universal Application Server, July, 1997
  4. ^ See uspto.gov, click on "Trademarks -> Search TM Database", and perform a Basic search for "Webtop". The only earlier occurrences in both the Patent and Trademark databases are for systems unrelated to a web desktop context.
  5. ^ SCO Skunkware Release Notes
  6. ^ "Sun Microsystems Completes Tarantella Acquisition". Associated Press. 2005-07-13. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]

References[edit]