I’m trying to keep abreast of what is happening in the world of Web Applications (vs. Desktop) and this includes Ajax, Web Application Frameworks and Web Languages, Web Operating Systems and all things Web 2.0. My main interest here is to have Surfulater or a subset thereof, running over the Net in your Web Browser, one day.
Stan Schroeder has recently put together a very good overview of 10 on-line operating systemsÂ which is well worth a read, if you are interested in Web applications. The articles comments provide very goodÂ feedback and mention a number of Web OS’s that Stan hadn’t included.
I tried a few of the WebOS’s and was suitably impressed, but not to the point where I’ll be using one any time soon. Most are Flash based and look pretty good, but their functionality is limited. And of course if you don’t happen to have an Internet connection, they aren’t much use.
I uploaded a file to one WebOS to see how its file system worked andÂ was completely locked out from doing anything until the upload finished, which took around 10 minutes. I have no idea if this is a design flaw in their WebOS or a limitation of Flash, but it is a productivity killer.
One commenter mentioned NivioÂ which lets you use common Windows applications in your Web Browser. I haven’t tried their offering and the site leaves you a little in the dark as to what is behind the scenes (Tell Me More takes you to a Partners page!) but I assume they are running MS Windows and using Remote Desktop via. the ActiveX Control.
Remote Desktop enables you to access a Windows PC from any LAN or Internet connected PC anywhere on the planet and use all of your applications, just the same as if you were sitting in front of the PC. Remote Desktop uses RDPÂ to connect to a computer running Microsoft Terminal Services, which includes Windows XP Pro, Media Center, Vista etc. Unfortunately Win XP Home PC’s cannot be accessed. The remote PC can running any version of Windows or you can use a Web Browser. Remote Desktop Clients are also available for Mac’s, Linux, FreeBSD etc.
Remote Desktop is easy to setup and instructions can be found here. If you are using a Router to connect to the Net and want to access your PC from outside then you need to set up the PC with a fixed IP address instead of DHCP and setup port forwarding in the Router. Some helpful info on this can be found here. You need to know the IP address your ISP has provided in order to connect remotely. Better still create a Domain Name from one of the free or low cost Dynamic DNS providers. If your IP address is continually changing you need to run some software that informs the Dynamic DNS host whenever it changes. Routers commonly provide this capability and this is the best solution. Otherwise there is plenty of free software available to do this for you.
I’ve been using Remote Desktop for some time now and would be lost without it. I use it whenever I’m out of the office to check my e-mail, and run various applications. I also use it a lot within the office, for example from my Notebook PC to access my Desktop PC. In fact I’m using it to write this.
Remote Desktop really does simplify the way I work, and I know that wherever I am I have complete access to everything on my Desktop PC, as well as access to other PC’s in the office. I might be in an Internet Cafe in some far away land, or away for a few days with my Notebook PC and a dial-up Internet connection.
If you haveÂ PC capable of running the Remote Desktop server and ever have the need to access it remotely, you should definitely give this a try. If not, maybe Nivio offers a usable solution.
I really can’t see that I’d have a use for a WebOS as long as I have Remote Desktop and the remote PC has a reliable Internet connection and power.
Here’s a final tip. Run Surfulater on your Home or Work PC and access it from anywhere using Remote Desktop. Works a treat.