YouOS, an online “operating system” looks really interesting. You register, then load it up in your browser. It’s best to maximise the browser window as much as you can. I’m at work, so am stuck with IE.

They describe the system as being “Still wayyyy alpha”, so I guess we shouldn’t expect too much. Still, they are blogging and have a forum, so are obviously interested in the thoughts of early users. They write a bit about what they are trying to do in their “manifesto”:

There is a glaring weakness to all traditional operating systems, however. They are, at the root, designed to run on one computer. Extensions like NFS and remote desktop alleviate this weakness to some extent, but they do nothing to enable collaboration on a larger scale between users on different computers. Imagine what you could do if every one in the world could work and play on the same “virtual computer”.

So, le’s give it a go. At first, you are presented with what appears to be a blank screen. I really wasn’t sure what to do at first, still I notice a small button in the top left of the screen:

Stuff Button

Which revealed the stuff menu:

Stuff Menu

So there are a few apps on there already. Some of them are a little specialised, however, like FlickRSS. You load it up, and a window with a text box pops up, which you fill in and hit the ‘Get Feed’ button, like I did with ‘Cats’. You then get a list of flickr photos tagged with the word cats.

Anyway, Chat I couldn’t get to work; RichTextEditor works fairly well, if a little slowly, though is obviously nowhere near to, say, Writely:

Text editor

TubeRSS, I hoped, was going to be some sort of RSS aggregator, but actually does for YouTube what FlickRSS does for Flickr – woo, and indeed, hoo; YouBuddy is, I guess, some sort of YouOS internal IM system, though as I don’t have any buddies I couldn’t check; YouFiles is a rudimentary manager for the files you have stored on YouOS; YouMail lets you email other YouOS types; YouShell lets you type in Javascript commands (!); YouSticky does the obvious sticky notes on the online desktop.

One of the issues with YouOS is that it looks so ugly. Gmail’s interface has shown that a largely text based service can still look good, and friendly. YouOS is very, very unfriendly looking. Also, being in alpha, it crashes an awful lot. I wouldn’t bother with it much at the moment except for the novelty value.

The notion of the online desktop is an interesting one, that conjures the image of computer boxes doing nothing other than handling the keyboard, mouse, display and internet connection; and where you can log in with any machine anywhere in the world and get your own desktop. I suspect, though, that the route that YouOS is taking is the wrong one. What the online OS needs to do is not provide the applications, just the means of accessing the applications, which can be developed by other people on other sites, and the means of storing data to be used and shared between those applications.

3 thoughts on “YouOS”

  1. Hey,

    Glad you could take the time to check out our site. Those apps that you saw came pre-installed with a guest account, but there are actually many more available that others have written (head on over to add/remove apps, or simply go here

    We know our UI is very raw, we’re working hard on the redesign.



  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sammo! Perhaps I was being rather negative in what I put – it’s obviously a great achievement to get the thing working at all. Will check out the other apps that are available – thanks for the tip!

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