Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

Summary: What if I told you that you could replace your heavy, expensive desktop with a cheap, web-based one? You still wouldn't buy off on it, would you? Before you answer, you should check out Glide OS.


The Complete Mobile Desktop Solution.

Glide OS: The Complete Mobile Desktop Solution.

I've tested several web-based desktops over the past four or five years only to be disappointed that the parent company either goes out of business or dissolves for economic reasons. The problem, I think, is that while the concept is excellent, the timing is poor. Cloud-based, webified desktops are ahead of their time. It's unfortunate but true. It seems to me that people are bound to the idea of evolution so much so that anything outside of slow Zeitgeist-driven change just isn't accepted by the masses. I'm sufficiently impressed with Glide OS but am afraid that it will end up like others: In the dot com rubble pile.

It's sad really but that's life in a world that thrives on baby steps.

Glide OS is an evolutionary leap forward in cloud-based desktop computing. As I said, I'm sufficiently impressed with Glide OS but I realize that the probability of large-scale adoption, no matter how logical, is slim. It's too bad too because it's a cool product with decent security and great performance.

Walter S. Mossberg, Wall Street Journal's principal technology columnist said of Glide OS at the All Things Digital Conference that, "Glide is like world peace between devices and platforms. It's amazing."

David Pogue said, "Genius...Glide's core idea is unassailably fresh and useful."

Glide OS was also named as one of PC World Magazine's Top 100 Tech Products of 2009.

Glide is interesting but seriously I think we all need to take a giant step back from the pipe on this. Let's clear our heads a bit before we gallop headlong into the realm of "over the top accolades." Glide OS isn't new or revolutionary. What makes it so great is that it still exists and it supports every platform and just about every browser, including the iOS standard, Safari., in my opinion, was a much cooler product than Glide. FreeOnlinePC was pretty darn great too--a full Linux system of my own. The operative word in both of those sentences is, "was." They no longer exist. There were others that I can't remember and it doesn't really matter because they're gone now. Only Wikipedia will remember them, if at all.

I honestly hope that Glide survives the inevitable uptake lull that it's no doubt currently experiencing. I like it but I wouldn't go "whole hog" on it either. It just isn't there yet, for me. It needs to emulate current operating system architecture more obviously. It needs to have that familiar Windows look and feel. People don't want to feel alienated by a desktop. People don't like change. Make it look like Windows.

Baby steps, folks, baby steps. It might be revolutionary but you have to make it look like it's a natural evolution from a current heavy desktop to the lightweight, cloud-based one that you want them to buy. If it looks and feels too foreign, they'll pass by it without pause.

One of its major flaws is that its major applications, like Email, Write and Calendar, open in a new browser. If you want to replace desktops, Glide has to look and behave like a traditional desktop. Some apps open in the same browser window but all of them should. Unless Glide's goal is to cater to the Chrome OS crowd, it needs more mass appeal by emulating real desktop operating systems.

I'd also like to see an App store where you can purchase applications to run on it. Right now, you're stuck with what you're given.

I think webtops, or whatever you want to call them, are ahead of their time because I think people have to plow through the difficulty and poorly performing VDI and other heavy desktop solutions first. I sincerely believe that VDI and its associated technologies are simply an evolutionary transition toward a web-based desktop such as Glide.

If Glide can hang in there for three or four more years, it will enjoy great success. Otherwise, start creating its epitaphical Wikipedia entry now.

Businesses will spend millions or billions on private cloud-based, heavy desktops and public cloud, heavy desktops until the light comes on that fires a few dormant neurons and says, "Hey dummy, web-based Cloud desktops are very inexpensive, can be accessed from anywhere on any device and you don't have anything to maintain."

Understandably, that's a long message for a 77 MHz synapse to process for most folks but it will happen. Just not in the next couple of years.

But, as impressive as Glide is, it still needs a little bit of work. I know, I know, everyone's a critic but hear me out.

For example, I don't like having everything out on the desktop. I think you should have containers for productivity apps, entertainment apps, social networking, customization and so on. It's too cluttery with all those icons hanging everywhere. If people want to place icons on the desktop, they can but give them the option. The ability to create new icons and folders would be a bonus too.

The other issue is sound. People want to play music, watch videos, edit videos, play games and who knows what else. You have to have sound for all of those. If the goal is to replace current desktop technology with a web-based solution, then it must replace every aspect of the currently accepted model. If it doesn't, then it will be no more than another digital memory.

I like webtops but I have yet to be able to place any long term trust in one due to their historically high rate of failure.

I'm willing to reconsider my rather bleak outlook if I could speak to a decent-sized company (50+) that has taken the plunge into traditional desktop replacement with a web-based technology like Glide. Please contact me if you know of one or two that have.

Glide is cool. Glide has potential. Glide has a nice look and feel. Glide pricing seems appropriate for any business size. But, Glide is ahead of its time. Companies have yet to blow enough cash on transitional virtual desktop technologies to come to the conclusion that webtops are the next step in the natural selection process. For now, it's an evolutionary leap and people just aren't ready to evolve.

To check out Glide for yourself, go to Glide Digital's website and click the Join Glide button to register for a free Glide OS Desktop just like mine. Be sure to use the Comments to let me know what you think of it.

Topics: Hardware, Operating Systems, Software


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

    How is this "cheap" compared to a desktop? That is, if you mean "cheap" like "low price", not like "s*cks a**". Cheap in what regard? You still need a desktop computer to run this OS - only, you can wait ages for your more complex stuff to load. And in case you're using a non-flat internet access method, you need to pay the transfer fees. Oh, and if you want anything serious, you also need to pay for GlideOS access?

    So tell me, how offers this ANY advantage (over the course of like 2 or 3 years) over having a baseline desktop computer?
    • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

      I should have used inexpensive instead of cheap. If you have a smart phone, tablet or Chrome OS, you can get to it. No traditional desktop OS needed.
      • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops


        Oh come on Ken, a tablet? Are you really advocating an underpowered, undersized, overpriced, keyboardless grease-smeared laptop, as an inexpensive replacement to a PC to justify your argument that GlideOS is "inexpensive". ROFL
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

    They are way ahead of their time. Like FF2 says, you pay all the way. Linux is free, Windows is a couple of hundred bucks if you already have a PC, and MacOSX is a bit more expensive if you don't already have a Mac. Local OS options outweigh the so called 'benefits' of a cloud hosted OS. ChromeOS won't take off soon, and if Chrome can't...this sure as hell won't.
    • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

      Yes, you're correct about it all but no OS is free to maintain. You have to figure in the cost of management, which is very high.
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

    The biggest issues with cloud computing are:

    -The connectivity problem. HTML 5 helps, but it's still the case that most cloud apps become doorstops when there are connectivity issues.

    -Local power and resources are often poorly used by web apps. Local resources make an app seem fast and snappy, while web apps waiting for a server seem slow and sluggish. Connectivity issues can compound the problem even more. Let's face it: Today's computers and cell phones have ridiculous amounts of power. Let's use that power, rather than let it go to waste.

    -Traditional apps are catching up. They automatically update, and thanks to app stores and cloud services, they can be deployed to multiple machines easily.

    I have an iPhone and an iPod touch - and when I install an app on one, it installs on the other. I don't have to go to each device to install it.

    I'm predicting that soon traditional apps will be virtually indistinguishable from web apps. The only difference will be whether you see the browser chrome or not.

    Personally? I really don't want to be staring at browser chrome all the time. I want apps to take advantage of my entire screen and integrate well with my program launcher. And of course work regardless of connection issues.

    That too much to ask? Really?
    • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops


      You're right but soon you won't be able to distinguish between web apps and local apps. You'll never know when you're using one or the other.
      • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

        @khess Except you will, because the internet isn't a constant. Connectivity issues, low data caps and bandwidth (Not everybody has access to ridiculously fast internet. I live in the biggest city in my state and the best speed I can get from my provider is pitiful.), etc will keep browser based OSes down for a very long time. Not to mention there's not really any advantage to them. You can get a decent desktop or laptop relatively inexpensively nowadays. Hardware is cheap. Hardware continues to fly into the future, but the average user doesn't really need cutting edge hardware. My ten year old desktop with 128 MB of RAM does what my father needs it to do. So does his netbook (one of the older ones running Ubuntu). There really isn't much of an advantage to doing everything on a remote server when even these ancient crappy pieces of hardware does what the average user needs it to do.
      • BS. There is no way you'll ever be able to create a pipe

        fat enough to give you hard drive access speeds over a routed network that may span hundreds of miles.
      • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

        @khess "You're right but soon you won't be able to distinguish between web apps and local apps."

        Well, yes, I said as much. They'll run anywhere, they'll run with or without a connection, and you won't notice a thing, unless it's something that truly relies on network access.

        The web purists just don't get it. It's not about being on the web 24/7 - it's about having access to your stuff 24/7, even if you don't have a decent connection. Sometimes an interruption is understandable in the case of, say, a teleconference. You can't avoid breaking a teleconference if your connection breaks. But an interruption should not happen if you're doing something like editing a document, which can be done locally.

        So no, the web purists don't really get it. It's not about 24/7 connectivity, it's about 24/7 productivity. Or as close to it as you can get.

        The future, in my mind, is in hybrid apps. Apps that do their best to just work regardless of connection issues. The lines between "web" and "traditional" will blur, and it will take full advantage of the benefits of both models. That's the future in my mind.
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

    I like Glide but you are right, it does have some shortcomings. was the best of the Linux offerings I had found too. I really like Desktone ( but they are focused on the enterprise and do not sell individual accounts. That would be great to have a full Win7 VDI to use from anywhere. That way you could remote into it from your iPad or tablet whenever you need a desktop. I would be willing to pay $10 a month for a hosted full desktop. I wouldn't need my laptop if I could do that. These services are just too far ahead of the curve for consumers to get big adoption rates yet.
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

    desperate attempt... paid article?? why now, when it was top app in 2009 and still no one knows or cares?
    • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

      AFAIK, there are no paid articles on ZDNet. I can tell you for sure that no one but ZDNet pays me and no one tells me which products to write about nor do I have any stake in any of them. Hell, most of them don't even let me have a free account. I buy every App and have to pay for everything like everyone else. Maybe it's better that way. If someone had paid me to write this one, they would have gotten a better review, don't you think.
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

    Good insight. another cloud based desktop is Exvo OS. IMHO, the interface is user-friendly and web apps are good. definitely worth checking out! :)
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

    Glide is like combing, Google Docs and more. Fascinating article.
  • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

    This is a nonstarter for me when I login and it says...

    "Glide requires the Adobe Flash Player"

    Might as well say "requires a Desktop OS"...what is the point if an "internet"OS is not written in HTML and JavaScript?
    • RE: Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops


      Yes, Flash is garbage to be sure. That is regretful. They will have to abandon it now that Adobe has kicked Mobile Flash to the curb. You'll have to read my latest post about that. Due up in about 15 min.