Web operating system

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In metacomputing, WebOS and Web operating system are terms that describe network services for internet scale distributed computing, as in the WebOS Project at UC Berkeley,[1] and the WOS Project.[2] In both cases the scale of the web operating system extends across the internet, like the web.

However, the terms WebOS and Web operating system have been employed more broadly and with far greater popularity in the context of "the web as in HTTP", and for many meanings ranging from singular systems to collections of systems.[3][4][5][6][7] In April 2002, Tim O'Reilly spoke of "the emergent Internet operating system" as an open collection of Web services.[8]

Common to uses for collections of systems, a Web operating system is distinct from Internet operating systems in that it is independent of the traditional individual computer operating system. This conception of the system reflects an evolution of research in the field of operating systems into the increasingly minimized (for example, TinyOS and Exokernel) and distributed (for example, Inferno), and for distributed systems increasingly defined in terms of the specification of their network protocols more than their implementations (for example, Plan9's 9P).

In a usage referring to singular network services, a Web operating system is another name for a Webtop. These services turn the desktop into a service that runs on the Internet[9] rather than on the local computer. As these services include a file system and application management system, they increasingly overlap with the functionality of a traditional desktop computer operating system.

In a usage referring to desktop (or handheld) computer application environments, a Web operating system is a traditional operating system that is focused on supporting Web applications themselves, or a desktop operating system solely providing Web access.[10][11][12] Systems like these also are known as kiosks.


WebOS gained popularity in 1999 when a much touted start up, WebOS Inc. (at first known as Hyperoffice and later known as MyWebOS[13]), was founded by Berkeley grad Shervin Pishevar and Emory grad Drew Morris. WebOS licensed the WebOS technologies from Duke University and University of Texas (Austin) and recruited Dr. Amin Vahdat, Professor of Computer Science at Duke, who had pioneered the WebOS technologies at University of California at Berkeley where he got his PhD on his WebOS research. WebOS acquired WebOS.org, which was created by a young Swedish programmer, Fredrik Malmer, who had created the first online desktop environment.

Soon after, some of the top DHTML and Javascript programmers in the world such as Erik Arvidsson of WebFx fame, Dan Steinman, creator of the Dynamic Duo Cross-browser DHTML API, joined WebOS. WebOS raised over $10 million in financing from Impact Venture Partners led by Adam Dell and Grotech Capital. WebOS was launched with a vision of creating the first web operating system complete with a WebOS API allowing developers to create Windows-like web applications that worked at extremely fast speeds by caching much of the code in the local browser. Arvidsson later launched Bindows, a framework very similar to the WebOS API, that does much of this and is used by many large companies and the US Military.

WebOS filed the very first WebOS patents in 1999. WebOS competed with another start up, Desktop.com, which was aimed more at the consumer market. WebOS was covered by many media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, financial Times, LA Times, Power lunch on CNBC, Fox News and CNN and helped spread the WebOS meme further. WebOS launched Hyperoffice, a full office suite, back in 1999.

A 2003 scientific publication was made about BolinOS, a "Web Operating System for Internet / Radiology"[14] based on works started in 1995 by the University of Geneva in Switzerland, and relates the diverse aspects of this kind of online platform, based on client and server side distribution of applications using platform independent software.

See also


  1. Amin Vahdat. "WebOS: Operating System Services for Wide Area Applications". http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/61096.html. 
  2. Peter Kropf and John Plaice and Herwig Unger. "Towards a Web Operating System". http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/508728.html. 
  3. Richard MacManus. "What is a WebOS?". http://blogs.zdnet.com/web2explorer/?p=178. 
  4. eyeOS. "Open Source Web Desktop Environment, commonly known as Web Operating System (Web OS) or Web Office". http://eyeos.org/. 
  5. Gevorg Harutyunyan. "What the hell is web operating system?". http://www.soongy.com/about/#webos. 
  6. YouOS. "What the heck is a web operating system?". http://www.youos.com/html/static/manifesto/what.html. 
  7. John Battelle. "All the world's a platform". http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,16376,1580142,00.html. 
  8. Tim O'Reilly. "Inventing the Future". http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/2002/04/09/future.html. 
  9. Chang, Emily (2006-08-07). "eHub Interviews Sapotek". http://www.emilychang.com/go/ehub/interview/desktoptwo. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  10. Kai Hendry. "Webconverger". http://webconverger.com/. 
  11. Matthew Nourse. "cl33n". http://cl33n.com/. 
  12. Steve Hargadon. "LiveKiosk". http://livekiosk.com/. 
  13. "Press release for the extinct 'myWebOS.com'". http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.malaysia/browse_thread/thread/36b9497d0a66a191/12c717c6defb41d6?lnk=st&q=%22web+operating+system%22&rnum=5#12c717c6defb41d6. 
  14. "BolinOS IntRad - Multimedia Authoring Platform and Web Operating System for Internet / Radiology". http://www.intrad.ch/intrad/posters/luzern2003/bolinos/. 

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