Writely just explained the WebOS to me

by greg on September 1, 2005

Wow, Writely is slick for a Javascript front end. I’ve seen applications on the Internet that can compete with applications on my desktop, but this is the first application on the Internet that I don’t associate with the Internet that can compete with an application on my desktop. It’s one thing to have mail clients & feedreaders on the Internet that can compete with my desktop, but a word processor?

Playing with Writely, I felt like I understood the future in a way I fundamentally hadn’t before. That’s a pretty heady feeling for quarter-to-six in the morning. I got this – I’d read it before, but now I feel like I’ve got it.

Here’s how this is going to go down:

  1. Applications like Writely are going to grow in sophistication and number, but are all going to be standalone – different UI, different login, different storage locations.
  2. Integration between webapps is going to begin through metaservices – single sign-on, common online disk space, scripts that skin interfaces to make UI standard. They’ll start as hacks and grow more integrated as each webapp adapts and adopts them.
  3. WebOS evangelists are going to start promoting the ‘WebOS’ like Linux advocates currently promote Linux over Windows. They’ll suffer from the same problems – the WebOS will still be too difficult to use, despite the introduction of home pages that function a bit like a Windows or Mac desktop.
  4. Someone will realize that current browsers aren’t suitable for mainstream use as an OS. A new ‘browser’ will be developed (‘browser’ in quotes because it’ll have become much more than that), designed to run on-load full-screen, which will integrate existing desktop applications seamlessly with webapps.
  5. We’ll see the introduction of computers that don’t have a backend OS beyond what’s needed to launch and update the WebOS ‘browser’ program.

Damn. Lot of opportunity there. If I had infinite developers, I’d have them start working on the WebOS browser immediately – start hacking Firefox to stop looking and working like a browser and start looking and working like OS X or Windows, changing bookmarks to icons, integrating as well as possible with existing webservices, reading and writing to the hard drive, popping open other applications within subwindows rather than tabs (including applications running off the local hard drive…) I don’t know who yet, but someone is going to do this…

(Hat tip to TechCrunch for the initial pointer to Writely.)

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