Harshdeep 2.0

March 9, 2006

Goowy, the Web OS – showing off the power of Flash

Filed under: Internet — harshdeep @ 2:59 pm

The concept of Web OS – having all your applications and data available on the web through the browser irrespective of the hardware and OS of the system you are using – and its requirement is understood for quite some time now. But there haven’t been any good implementations.

Till now.

Recently I discovered Goowy. And I was amazed. Though it is still far from becoming a Web OS, they have done a pretty good job packaging the entire thing with an interesting user experience.

The entire website has been built in Flash. That explains the nifty animations sprinkled around the site. Here’s a screenshot

The applications available currently are –

  1. Email – you get a @goowy.com address with 2GB space.
  2. To-do lists
  3. RSS Reader
  4. Calendar
  5. Lots of Flash-based games
  6. Small applications like Stock ticker, weather monitor, Flickr viewer, Google Search etc.

The Mac-like application bar at the bottom of the website makes the intention of Goowy developers clear – it’s gonna be the web equivalent of a desktop OS.

Flash vs AJAX

The fact that folk at Goowy decided to use Flash instead of AJAX to provide the “rich internet application” experience seems to have paid up.

Goowy has almost bridged the gap between the UI of web and desktop applications. With Flash, creating animations is far easier – that’s the primary thing it is known for. Things like accessing the right-click menu are not even possible in AJAX (yet?) (for example, in Goowy, you can right-click on an email and select the delete option from the menu that pops up – this isn’t easily doable through AJAX)

However, all this doesn’t come free of cost. The load time for Goowy is slightly on the higher side – all those nifty animations need higher bandwidth than what would have been required for a simpler AJAX implementation. There is a lag in entering text while composing an email, even on my super powerful workstation.

Feature ideas

I’m sure the developers at Goowy are working full-steam to add new features to their wonderful app. There is so much for them to do right now.

Some features are already in the pipeline – they are just grayed out on the main page – like sharing files and instant messaging. I don’t know how Techcrunch got the screenshots of IM working in Goowy.
I’d like to see widgets for storing bookmarks. Also, some kinda post-it notes would be very useful.

But the most important feature would be to somehow allow third party developers to develop widgets/applications for their site. I’m not sure how they should be doing that but if they can get the attention of third party developers, the usability and acceptance of Goowy will increase a lot.

And yes, resizable windows for minis would be a nice improvement.

PS: Protopage is a good starting point for a software that could later expand into a full-fledged Web OS, but it seems to have constrained itself to be a Web Desktop only (with online bookmarks, personal notes and RSS Reader)


  1. Right-click menus are totally possible, I’ve done them before. ATM there’s pretty much nothing that you can do in Flash that can’t be done with JavaScript (not “AJAX”).

    Comment by Andrew — March 9, 2006 @ 3:23 pm

  2. Great blog buddy….i am sure the hits would be maximum….;)
    New record break coming up:D

    Comment by samreen — March 9, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  3. I really don’t get this. Can someone explain why a web-based desktop is a good idea ? I don’t spend all day looking at my desktop – it’s in the background while I’m using email or using word or emacs. Shouldn’t we be working on developing web Applications rather than web Desktops ?

    Comment by walter — March 9, 2006 @ 5:05 pm

  4. You could also try eyeOS. Post-it notes are there and some other stuff as well but still in beta. Not flash based.

    Comment by Anshul — March 9, 2006 @ 7:25 pm

  5. Web OS? In what way is this an operating system?

    Comment by James — March 10, 2006 @ 12:10 am

  6. Now this could be interesting; I’ve invested too much into my OS (MEPIS Linux) to give it up, but I think this could be a pretty good model for one of those “social” websites like myspace.com.

    Comment by misterdubs — March 10, 2006 @ 6:07 am

  7. @Andrew: I’ve never used Javascript but I’d read somewhere that the browser doesn’t yield the right-click menu to be modified by Javascript. I guess that’s not correct – you can definitely do it. e.g. http://www.milonic.com/menusample27.php

    @Samreen: Thanks 🙂

    @Walter: Web Desktop is useful because it allows you to have your bookmarks, to-do lists, rss feeds, calender and contact list available to me on all the machines you use. You don’t want to keep updating these lists everywhere. But Goowy is not just a Web Desktop, I think it’s more of a Web OS.

    @Anshul: eyeOS is kewl! I just looked at it briefly and I think it rocks. Will take a closer look tonight.

    @James: Ideally, a Web OS would let me have a set of web apps and the content generated/used with these apps on any machine I login from. That way my “work space” looks the same no matter which system I’m using. Goowy, as I said, is not completely a Web OS but it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to that. I think I’ll write another post about my understanding of a Web OS.

    @misterdubs: It’s much more beneficial if you use multiple systems (possibly with different OS).

    Comment by harshdeep — March 10, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

  8. I’ve used Goowy before… I like what I’ve seen and might use it as my main email client…

    Comment by Andrew — March 10, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

  9. Some people seem to be asking what the purpose is to a web based desktop. I have used Goowy for quite some time and see potential for it. Another interesting one is Laszlo Systems, whose demo is absolutely amazing. In any case, both desktops are useful to people in that the same desktop can be accessed from anywhere that has internet access. That way, you can create your own “home” computer desktop anywhere you log on to the Internet. I also enjoy having the subscription widgets and knowing that I can access them easily as well. 🙂

    Comment by thomask — March 11, 2006 @ 8:26 am

  10. Thats really nice, they’ve indeed shown the power of flash. The calendar application interface design is almost similar to Google Calendar(yet to be released). Seems like Google has to face some tough competition. 🙂

    Comment by lokesh — March 11, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  11. Sorry.
    Anything based on proprietary systems is, by definition, not web-enabled.

    Comment by ERW — March 13, 2006 @ 2:14 am

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