Glide OS: An evolutionary leap into web-based desktops

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.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

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.

G.ho.st, 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.

Editorial standards