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The Future Might Be BIOS and Browsers 350

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the heard-this-before dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Few in the open source community have welcomed online applications like Google Docs with open arms, but Keir Thomas claims he's found a way forward — and it's one that involves exclusively open source. He reckons BIOS-based operating systems are the future, because they will alter the way users think about their computers. FTA: 'The key breakthrough is ideological: BIOS-based operating systems demote the operating system to just another function of the hardware. It breaks the old mindset of the operating system being a distinct platform, or an end in itself. The operating system becomes part of the overall computing appliance. This allows the spotlight to focus on online applications.'"
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The Future Might Be BIOS and Browsers

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  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:14PM (#28042003) Journal

    computer users, but when the network is down all bets are off. No matter how good the experience normally is, one lightning storm is all it will take to send johnny user off to computers are us to buy a full functioning pc.

    • by Draknor (745036) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:31PM (#28042347) Homepage

      And what will Johnny User do with that computer when the network is down?

      - Can't do email if you can't access Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo.
      - Can't chat with friends on IM
      - Can't socialize on Facebook/Myspace
      - Can't surf YouTube for funny or interesting videos.
      - Can't pay your bills online or manage your bank account

      There goes probably 90% of your average user's computer use. Sure, they can always type a letter in MS Word, or update some Excel spreadsheet, or download their digital pictures (just don't try emailing them to anyone or uploading them anywhere!). Or maybe Solitaire. But let's face it, most of the exciting stuff to do on a computer now is online.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:44PM (#28042599)

        But Firefox still works.

        There's no place like 127.0.0.1!

      • by mustafap (452510) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:51PM (#28042711) Homepage

        Maybe he could write software like we all did in the old days.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DarrenBaker (322210)

        If this happens, and I believe to a certain extent it will, Internet providers will have to harden their networks to the point that outages are a rare occurrence - like the power companies hav#!5g45g%T+++ NO CARRIER.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by wvmarle (1070040)

          Speaking from experience in Hong Kong (my current home) and The Netherlands (my native country):

          Accidental power outages are measured in mere minutes or even seconds per year. In Hong Kong power outages are usually confined to a building (poor maintenance of the building's management, not the power company) and once over the last years I recall a power dip lasting a fraction of a second, which is enough to wreak havoc with lifts, traffic lights and even train services, causing serious chaos. Most years I d

      • by pentalive (449155) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:52PM (#28042725) Journal

        1) Play any number of local games of all sorts (not just solitaire)

        2) Play music and podcasts already downloaded and ripped.

        3) Play a DVD

        4) Upload that bunch of pictures from his camera and get them squared away with GIMP or Photoshop.
        (OH wait you already had part of that)

        5) Perhaps write a program of his own?

        Hey, I LIKE solitaire. If a letter is needed, why not?

        6) Gather freinds for a LAN party (Just because the DSL/Cablemodem is down does not mean the local home network is down too.)

        Of course if that thunderstorm also knocked out power...

      • by maillemaker (924053) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:52PM (#28042741)

        Maybe I'm just getting old, but to me, the "online" is just the communication channel, not the content arena.

        When it comes to content I create, I want to create it and store it on my computer, not on someone else's computer.

        Yes, I love the internet and the ability it gives me to send and receive content (which I then, again, store on my computer). And yes, the utility of my computer is greatly compromised when I can't access the internet.

        But I don't want to rely on someone else's computer to run applications like Office, or Email, or games, or...anything I can think of right now.

        I don't want to rely on someone else's computer to store my data.

        The reason why I don't want these things is

        1) There might come a reason at some point where I can't access the data (they go out of business, internet is down, I can't afford internet access anymore, etc.)

        but mostly:

        2) I don't trust that the people who so graciously store my things online won't use them or cripple them in some manner not in my best interest, but is instead in someone else's money-making interest.

        Having been involved with computers since the days of the TI99/4A, what seems clear to me is the future of computing is about CONTROL OF DATA. So the fundamental question becomes, do YOU want the control over your data and applications, or are you going to give that control to someone else?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by loufoque (1400831)

          But I don't want to rely on someone else's computer to run applications like Office, or Email, or games, or...anything I can think of right now.

          I don't want to rely on someone else's computer to store my data.

          Phrased differently, you just want to be independent, self-reliant, and keep things in control, which is absolutely normal.

          I suppose the thing with most computer users these days is that since they don't feel like they're in control of anything they don't mind giving that away.

          • by CyberLord Seven (525173) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @03:59PM (#28044925)

            I suppose the thing with most computer users these days is that since they don't feel like they're in control of anything they don't mind giving that away.

            JEZUSFUCKINKRIST! This is the whole point of personal computers! The whole "computer revolution" thing of the 1970s, starting with the Altair, was to give people control over the data governing their lives.

            I look around thirty years later and find DMCA, corporations with databanks stuffed with peoples' personal data, and people who think the internet is the only reason to own a computer. WTF?

        • by vertinox (846076)

          Maybe I'm just getting old, but to me, the "online" is just the communication channel, not the content arena.

          Do you play WoW?

          Have you ever tried to play it offline?

          Just saying...

        • What he said ^

          I happen to trust Google - today. Google apps are cool - today. But, I limit my use of Google apps, because WHO KNOWS what might happen TOMORROW?!?! A hostile takeover bid from somewhere or other, with an entirely new philosophy about petty little things like "ownership", "copyright", etc. In short, what is located on Google's servers ultimately belongs to Google, and I can't influence how they use it.

          The concept of the cloud is alright, but people tend to get carried away with the concept

        • Geeze, I read that the first time as, "...what seems clear to me is the future of computing is about CONTROL DATA."

          Forget owing me a new keyboard, you owe me a new pair of shorts.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cro Magnon (467622)

        - Can't do email if you can't access Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo.
        - Can't chat with friends on IM
        - Can't socialize on Facebook/Myspace
        - Can't surf YouTube for funny or interesting videos.
        - Can't pay your bills online or manage your bank account

        Read the email that you've downloaded but not read yet
        Look up your friend's phone number to call him on ye olde phone
        Watch that kewl DVD you hadn't gotten around to yet
        Enter latest bills on Quicken to update when your connection returns.

        Most of the good stuff IS online, but th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Some people still play single player PC games, myself included. Or I could play multiplayer things with my roommate, even with the network down. Yes, the internet adds a HELL of a lot of stuff, but it's not really the sole thing that makes my computer useful to me.
      • by arminw (717974)

        ....And what will Johnny User do with that computer when the network is down?....

        1. rip a music CD to computer
        2. update ipod with the music
        3. play a DVD
        4. rip a DVD and process DVD for iPod
        5. write emails for sending later
        6. transfer photos from still camera to computer
        7. edit and arrange photos in iPhoto for slide show with music from iTunes
        8. copy video of child's first steps to computer
        9. edit video adding sounds and effects with iMovie
        10. burn to DVD for grandparents with iDVD
        11......use your imaginatio

  • If someone produces a practical Windows XP compatible O/S, then Microsoft might end up like a BIOS vendor.

    Just like Phoenix BIOS vs IBM PC BIOS.

    Then Microsoft will lose it's hold over the market, and people might just concentrate more on what runs on top.
  • by thewils (463314) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:15PM (#28042037) Journal

    I knew I'd kept my old 3270 hanging around for a reason!

    • I knew I'd kept my old 3270 hanging around for a reason!

      Yeah, but in all fairness, if it has a web browser that supports JavaScript (including Ajax) and Flash, then it's a lot more useful and entertaining than a 3270.

      It sounds a lot like the thin-client computing that was pushed about 10 years ago, and which never took off. But it seems to me that web apps, and browsers/Flash have come so far along that it might be really viable this time.

      • Actually the 3270 isn't far off from a web browser in concept. Every "action" key is a request to the server. The server sends back a "page" of information. The 3270 is a block display device. How is that really different from early browsers aside from the graphics?

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Or X terminal.

    • by Bozdune (68800)

      It's exactly the dumb terminal scenario again. Now that we've successfully translated every CICS application to the web, who needs anything but the modern equivalent of the 3270? Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

  • by ZyBex (793975) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:15PM (#28042047)

    Why not just store the BIOS on the hard disk? That way it has plenty of space to grow and can be updated easily!

    Oh wait...

    • by VampireByte (447578) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:46PM (#28042633) Homepage

      If the latest industry magazines are correct, the BIOS is going to be stored in the cloud.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      The whole concept of "BIOS based operating system" is just bizarre if you're not looking at it from a PC-clone perspective. A BIOS on a PC is just ROM (Flash). Big deal. On most platforms, any software in ROM gets copied to RAM if they have the room and need the speed. On the PC this software is very inefficient and is discarded as fast as possible. The BIOS on PCs is meant to try to function with hardware that is chock full of bugs and quirks and hacks on an architecture that was formed through accret

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        I'd like to see a "BIOS OS" whose job it is to function as a recovery mechanism. Optionally, it would have support for the most populat whole disk encryption products (Bitlocker, Truecrypt, PGP, and others), so if the MBR of a drive got scrozzled, one can still be able to access the data without trying to hunt down (or make) a specific recovery CD. This would also allow offline antivirus checking should the encrypted OS get infected.

        Of course, add the standard recovery tools, from chkdsk to tools for back

  • User perspective (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gr8_phk (621180) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:16PM (#28042051)
    Does he think an average user can tell the weather his OS is stored in on-board flash, solid state drive, or iron oxide? Right, I didn't think so.
    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Who cares where it is stored? As long as where it is stored is fast, that's all that really matters. And moving it closer to where the bios is stored, especially making it a part of the bios, means it will be as quick as possible.

      The point is speed to the browser, and lack of overhead. That particular computer becomes an internet appliance. It could also make web-based terminal sessions, like Citrix, quicker to boot to than a regular native OS! (Citrix is always on, the "speed to the browser" + access t

      • That big OS overhead usually has some reasons other than Steve Ballmer and his goons, some of them pretty good ones.

        At the top of my head: security (user accounts, access rights), kernel (scheduling, process initiation and termination, memory allocation) and extensibles (everything from 3d-graphics to USB and Bluetooth).

        I can open the task manager on my machine and can cite a good and valid reason for every task and service that is running. I cannot not say I'm satisfied with how much memory and CPU time ea

    • by mdm-adph (1030332)

      He can tell when it boots in 5 seconds vs. 1.5 minutes, yes.

    • Exactly. Unfortunately, "BIOS" has become a synonym for "Flash memory".
  • Could be useful (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Depends on how they implement it. I'd imagine for at least 80% of the unwashed hordes who just want something to boot in seconds, and then to surf the web and check their gmail, this would be great.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:17PM (#28042083)

    I've wanted it for a long time for PC gaming, but it's certainly a lot of work. A bios-based browser framework would be much simpler, and frankly it would fulfil the needs of a great many PC users. I know I'd like it for those times when all I want to do is get on the web. Boot should only be a few seconds before you're browsing slashdot. ;)

    Think about it though, for gaming (if someone would ever do it). Basic OS + gaming specific API = leanest gaming OS possible. Consoles basically use this concept, and get a lot more out of less hardware than PC games can, because PC games have much greater overhead.

    My thoughts, anyway.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The OS overhead isn't the biggest reason that console games are able to outperform PC games on lesser hardware. It comes down to the fact that with a console, designers know exactly what they're programming for, and can take full advantage of it. In PC games, they must aim for the lowest common denominator. They can't require the absolute highest end hardware available, or they'd cut off most of their market. So they must make sure the game runs on a wide range of systems, and thus can't program it to take
      • Add to that that they aren't really writing, usually, to any one of those configurations at all directly. They are all using some sort of abstracted API which has a layer of compatibility layers between the game's code and the hardware driver.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ZyBex (793975)

      Consoles have 1 unique hardware platform.
      A PC game must work on hundreds of different hardware configurations; to do that, we have to have a bunch of APIs (DirectX), but most importantly each different hardware component must have it's own driver that interfaces with that API to allow it to do the real work.

      A BIOS OS (for now) just uses very generic "drivers" to access the basic/common hardware functions. We're still a long way off to the point where a common BIOS will allow for gaming.

      If you allow the BIOS

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phoenix321 (734987) *

        The moment you have a user-updateable BIOS, you have an embedded OS. And all security risks associated.

        It's just the inner platform effect all over again, with every program expanding until it can read mail. I hate to stereotype it that way, but everything in the OS has a reason, which in the resource hog category is more often than not just "John Doe might need it someday". And if it wasn't included with the OS when it shipped, John Doe would complain for hours why computers need to be sooo complicated jus

    • by TheSpoom (715771) *

      Wait wait wait.

      Wait.

      You're saying you actually wanted a Phantom?

    • by mdm-adph (1030332) <mdmadph.gmail@com> on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:58PM (#28042841) Homepage

      Like you said, just buy a console. You can use keyboards and mice on XBox360's, I'm pretty sure.

  • by ubrgeek (679399) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:18PM (#28042103)
    Doesn't it also give a better attack vector via a hardware-focused rootkit?
    • Depends. They need a thin OS. There is no need to have notepad or even the browser on the stupid chip. That stuff should operate at a different permission level and from an actual drive even if it is slower. The OS should be doing kernel stuff only if we put it on hardware. A thin OS drops the size to where it would be reasonable to do formal proofs on the design.
  • Smells of DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:18PM (#28042109)

    I would hate to have the BIOS as the OS especially if I could not replace it.

    • Re:Smells of DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:34PM (#28042399)

      Smells of DRM

      I would hate to have the BIOS as the OS especially if I could not replace it.

      This is my thought also. Everything hardwired right into the silicon including DRM, TPM, unique ID hashes for tracking, and plenty of government/law enforcement back-doors. It would also take care of all those pesky open source operating systems and enable lockout of "unauthorized" applications. Nice, safe (from the governments' and big-corps' view) computers for the masses.

      Not for me, thanks.

      Strat

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:20PM (#28042131) Homepage

    If all applications are on a server -- someone else's server -- it doesn't bode too well for my freedom. This is a fine model for a lightweight system, such as a thin client or terminal, but I think these will complement the personal computer rather than supplant it, and will only do so to the extent that bandwidth and ubiquity permit. Emerging devices like netbooks and smartphones do seem to point toward this model gaining in popularity in coming yearss, but I think a lot of people will still find having code that executes locally, and which they can own and control, to be valuable -- too valuable to discard entirely.

    • If all applications are on a server -- someone else's server -- it doesn't bode too well for my freedom.

      Well, many of us now have broadband. And if we're willing to accept web-based apps, then we're willing to give up a little UI niceness.

      So would you find this acceptable?
      1) Java or Flash apps downloaded to your computer each time you need them.
      2) Data saved to local USB thumbdrive (or internal drive)

      I realize this probably wouldn't work for video editing, computationally demanding gaming, etc. But it would work just fine for 99% of what our livingroom PC is used for.

      • by pentalive (449155)

        It depends, Do I have to pay a monthly fee for the privilege of having the latest version of the application sent to me each time I launch?

        Will I need "permission" from some other entity to access my own data?

    • I could see it replacing the Desktop but not the server. There will still be a market for Server Application Just not Desktop. For most people SaaS will do what they want and be much easier overall, it is not effecting their freedom because they choose to use such a service. I bet if this catches on and desktops are being replaced. I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft or Google selling a server version of such an app. So they can make money from people who wants to run their servers locally or with a

    • by dannannan (470647)

      This can be viewed as problem with the current browser caching paradigm. It is an important concern and I believe it can be solved with some design changes in web apps and in the browser.

      Today your web browser always hits the remote server first, even if you already have a cached copy of the content. It's checking to see if its cache is still valid. If the site is down, you see an error (read: your app won't run); if the site decided to delete or change the content, your browser obliges and caches the new v

  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:23PM (#28042171) Homepage
    is in chip-design or network communications...great...thanks alot for this dead-end career GNU/LINUX!!
  • Modern Thin client? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by frinkster (149158) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:23PM (#28042179)

    Isn't BIOS + Browser just a modern interpretation of the thin client? Sure, there's always going to be a small market for them, but I don't see how it can grab a huge share of the market.

    Of course a business can run the Web apps from an internal server so it's definitely viable, but it never took off before - I doubt it would now.

    On the home front, such a business model turns your computer into a subscription service. It works as long as you pay your internet bill (and whatever other costs are needed to access the actual web applications). This wasn't very popular for music when the customer was presented with other options (iTunes).

    And this doesn't even address network reliability.

    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      Casual home users. All most people need or use is an office suite, solitaire and a browser+email client. Even at work, the taskers/sales/pms only used these.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)

      Isn't BIOS + Browser just a modern interpretation of the thin client?

      So? Why is that a bad thing? Looking after a set of locally installed applications is a chore most users have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with.

      The modern PC (and to a lesser extent, the Mac) uses what I call Woz Architecture. By that I mean it's a direct descendant of the Apple II, a system Wozniak designed to maximize hackability. He was thinking in terms of selling systems to his fellow hackers, but he created an technical and economic ecosystem that dominates desktop computing to this ve

  • by schmidt349 (690948) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:23PM (#28042181)

    No thanks, I would actually like to be able to execute native code. Javascript or ECMAscript or whatever they call it nowadays is a pretty poor substitute for any of the dozens of much better programming languages in the universe. Plus it's write once debug everywhere to a much greater extent than even Java.

    Why do you think there was such a kerfluffle over iPhone application development? Apple initially said you could just roll a Web 2.0 app that looked native to the iPhone, and exactly nobody was satisfied with that.

    I have no doubt that browser devices will become more popular over the course of the next few years, but they're never ever going to replace native code.

  • Anyone else ever wonder if eventually all high performance applications are just going to sit in their own VM/OS?
    I mean if the "desktop/OS" paradigm is relegated to part of the hardware.

    I'm fairly certain that made no sense to anyone but me.

    • The OLPC isolates "3rd party" apps like Firefox in a sandbox. The BIOS OS could virtualize a minimal Windows or Linux OS, modified to do its actual window rendering through a server process in the "User Browser/UI" VM.

      • I think that is what I meant, or something of that nature. I can't really articulate my idea without spend an hour typing and editing my idea.

    • Actually, that's an interesting concept. Each program in its own wrapper, and able to run on any platform that has the right interface. In some ways, a parallel thought to the whole Java-will-be-everything mantra, but something a bit different, too. This could be used atop a BIOS-as-OS model--the BIOSOS would provide the interface to the hardware (regardless of the machine type), and the application wrapper (AW) would simply pass information to the BIOSOS.

      I don't know how well it would work on specializ
  • Geeks like you guys are stupid! If we do some black box magic, you'll all accept it!

    Cause, y'know, it's totally not a philosophical difference between you having control over your data and a third party having control over your data. Not at all. It's all perspective!

  • But it is going to be a looong time before BIOS chips are big enough to store all the code for asking you if you really want to take this action.
  • Nope (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:27PM (#28042265)

    The solution to slow booting is not to put MORE stuff in the bios, the solution is a move adaptive startup process, if a user only uses firefox then boot up the system to the point it can browse the web ASAP and load the rest of the crap in the background (at a low priority so not to affect browsing)
    1.mount /etc,/usr & /home (or windows equivilents)
    2.load sandboxing software (UAC/selinux/etc)
    3.start networking
    4.put a webbrowser in fullscreen
    5.profit and eventually load the rest of the OS

    It's quick booting, customizable, gives a full featured OS eventually, i doubt many people want to sacrifice the last 2 for the 1st.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:29PM (#28042303)

    So, no OS. Browser becomes OS. Then browser adds features to do things that BIOS doesn't do.

    So congratulations, you've taken "OS", moved it up and now call it "BIOS", the you've taken "browser" and now call it "OS". You've taken "applications" and called them unnecessary. Then you've taken "online applications" and called them "applications".

    So all you've done is to throw the OS into the hardware, and you've changed the programming language into an internet-delivered language. Oh yeah, and you've put the browser into the position of controlling the system.

    And now you're going to say that internet explorer isn't a fundamental part of windows? No, you're going to say that windows isn't a fundamental part of online applications. except windows doesn't exist anymore, and all applications are online applications, and internet explorer is now the entire operating system.

    So you've said notihng but juggled around terms.

    And then, in five years, when firefox decides to support downloadable fonts, stateful connections, when "cookies" become "files" and there's access to a "file system" for these online applications to use, and some kind of "active control" to interface with other hardware like printers and scanners and cameras, then you'll simply have virtualized an operating system again.

    Congratulations for saying nothing. I can do it to. Watch this:

    "Computers are relying more and more on the Internet these days. Someday, more applications will begin online, instead of client-side. Oh, and your hardware will do more work than it used to." -- me, 2009

  • Client Server/Cloud architectures. Remote/shared computing is great for some things, but not others, the load per user is just too high. Modern FPS & MMORPG gaming, video, audio processing, are examples that would be "challenging" to move into the cloud. I suppose you could download plugin's & applets etc, but the data sets for some things just seem to require local processing & storage.

  • Long time still... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Malenx (1453851)

    It's going to be at least 10 years before this is feasible to the masses. We're not streaming live high def content in real-time. If we were, then a central gaming server could stream your screen to you and your computer would just have to be strong enough to play it.

    However, until that happens, gamers won't move to it. Until gamers make it usable, the general public won't move to it. By time this is possible, won't storage and processing power be so compact and powerful that it'll just be a silly argume

  • by gun26 (151620) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:34PM (#28042401)

    Didn't Ellison and McNealy try to sell us this pig in a poke years ago? They got nowhere with their initiative, and the current "cloud computing" nonsense won't replace local apps and data any time soon, either. What stopped this tired old notion before was lack of bandwidth - lots of people were on dialup, and it would have been painfully slow for them. Nowadays most are on broadband, but how much bandwidth do we REALLY have to play with? Not all that much, according to the Comcasts, Rogers, Bell Canadas and Verizons of this world. Do we really want to rely on online access going through an ISP which is counting every kilobyte of traffic and choking it off as it sees fit? Not to mention spyong on its customers on behalf of various shadowy government agencies.

    Also, isn't the browser itself becoming another big choke point in all this? Security vulnerabilities, remote exploits, memory hogging, reliance on add-on technologies like Flash and Java with their own security problems - and of course, all this is built on the shaky foundations of browser scripting, which can never be made completely secure.

    Forget it, boys. This turkey STILL won't fly.

  • Here's a sort of corollary idea... HyperSpace [desktoplinux.com] or ESXi [vmware.com] with DSL [damnsmalllinux.org] or similar runs on the machine (from flash, of course) and if you want to run something more complicated you load it in a virtual machine. One possible virtual machine would be a LAMP appliance that would make the browser in your machine more useful by hosting web applications; another one would be a storage appliance...

  • .. I know that aren't power users or in the computer field couldn't tell you the difference between their computer and the OS. Just like Mac's. You're buying a mac, not Windows computer.

  • The Future May Involve Blood, Watermelons, and Hookers.

  • Well, I suppose if browsers evolve to the point that they're providing full OS level functionality.

    I could see something like this happening a few years after browsers start commonly running in hypervisors.

    I don't really see the point. The parts of browsers tha are good for an OS migrate to the OS anyway. Something like the Palm Pre is more about basing the UX rendering layer on browser techology. And yes, presentation is an important part of the OS, but hardly the major part of it.

    Operating systems do t

    • by relguj9 (1313593)
      haha, yea, at that point it's just semantics. In a sense, a windows based OS is just an advanced browser anyways. If you give a browser all the functionality of an OS and put it on top of BIOS, isn't it really just an OS?
  • Please no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hcdejong (561314) <`ln.tensmx' `ta' `sebboh'> on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:41PM (#28042531)

    Apart from the issues of control over your data, access times etc:

    One of the nice things about today's OSes is that they've forced applications to become reasonably consistent and interoperable. All my applications have similar UI, and the services offered by the OS mean that the apps can talk to each other.

    Degrading the OS to just a host for the browser means you give up these services, and once again every application is a kingdom unto itself. The state of online apps today is similar to the less-functional, less visible OSes from 25 years ago, including the horrible and inconsistent UI, the lack of flexibility (no scripting, for instance), and the total lack of communication between apps hosted on different sites.
    And this time, because the apps are hosted on different sites, there's no OS vendor that can enforce consistecy and interoperability.

  • It's certainly possible that upgradeable BIOS-like OS's may be where the OS market is going, but it will mostly depend on the implementation and the requirement that it be upgradeable be present.

    If they try to do the BIOS OS without any ability to upgrade it, then there will be no way to fix the problems of the OS, and enthusiasts won't buy them. So being able to upgrade the BIOS OS would be necessary.

    Secondly, why limit the BIOS OS to just being a thin-client? The user could have a hard drive of some
  • it's starting to sound like it's going back to the Amiga's Kickstart 2.x+ [wikipedia.org], where the core OS is stored on ROM.

    • by LizardKing (5245)
      Pretty much what I was thinking, except it was the TOS in my Atari ST that set me off down that particular memory lane.
  • I could see this possibly becoming reality in some industries, especially those that are heavily oriental to working with documents/text (low bandwidth). But I think I can safely say that at least where I work in film editorial, this won't happen for a very long time. Online apps are just too slow for this kind of bandwidth intense medium. Even if a service was established, like I understand is already happening for games, where you would essentially connect to a VNC server where the 'real' computer was to

  • Online Apps Suck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GeekZilla (398185) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @01:52PM (#28042731)

    "This allows the spotlight to focus on online applications."

    Who has been asking for all these online applications? I keep reading about the freakin' "CLOUD!!!" and am just not impressed. I wouldn't trust anyone's Cloud platform with my company's data.

    As many people have mentioned, once the network goes down, no more online anything. I want my apps, my data and my work all under my control on my local machine/network. There are uses for online applications but to rely on them for business, private data or to store anything that lack of access to would cause a work stoppage is a bad idea.

  • This is one more attempt to come up with a way to get people to rent their software. Software companies have been looking for a way to force customers to pay them a steady stream of money since the PC came out. Early on someone realized that once a customer has software that does what he needs, he no longer has a reason to give the software company more money. There is a limit to how many features any given person needs/will use in a word processor. What that limit is varies from individual to individual bu
  • ...so lets destroy the OS so that they look good by comparison!" -Paraphrased from the article.
  • Mobile handsets, because they are resource constrained, will be the first to implement this simplification:

    The OS runs the hardware

    There is a small non-application userland with utilities, daemons, etc.

    The part of the userland the user uses is implemented using a JavaScript managed language runtime, with enough local access to enable offline operation for applications unrelated to communication.

  • Remember how DOS was just a glorified bootloader? So this is where the PC revolution took us? 20 years and we're full circle back to running single applications in something like real mode? Well, I guess people are still using UNIX so there's clearly no depth to the retardedly regressive prospects of the modern computer user.

    Here's an eletric blender... you can use it to beat antelope to death.

  • My data on someone else's computer? Encrypted? How do I know for sure when I did not write the client. Even if it's encrypted on the wire if the client knows my password/passphrase it's not encrypted.

    Who wants to see my data? I don't care! My data is mine to share or not as I choose.

    If I PGP it locally then I am no longer cloud computing, just cloud storing.

  • So my future computer will resemble an 80's pac man machine with a browser?

  • http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=202603163 [eetimes.com]

    Phoenix rolls environment for PC apps

    Rick Merritt
    EE Times
    (11/05/2007 12:00 AM EST)

    SAN JOSE, Calif. â" Phoenix Technologies Ltd. is using virtualization technology to carve out a new market in PC software beyond its traditional BIOS code. The company is working with notebook makers to roll out HyperSpace, a basic application environment for mobile systems intended to be a kind of complement to Windows.

    HyperSpace aims to provide acce

  • "As with the present online world, the future world of online applications simply has no need or desire for proprietary technologies."

    He touts the greatness of Gmail and Google Docs, describes how he can't understand someone using a local email application, and then spurns proprietary technologies?

    I run an open source email client that downloads my email into a format I can easily access directly and convert to whatever format I need.

    The future he is describing, if it ends up powered by Google Docs-sty

  • If a light BIOS/OS sits on the system, then you could easily task switch between operating systems. Better yet, developers could write applications directly for the BIOS/OS. That would be very good for single purpose workstations, wouldn't it, because the overhead would be really minimal?

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