Even if Microsoft can't completely get its act together when it comes to virtualization (cough-cough-Viridian), aficionados who see a niche to fill may still save the day.
Yesterday, and to raucous applause on our end, Michael Robertson launched ajaxWindows.
Imagine having your desktop -- no, your entire computer -- fully-functional and accessible from any system (Mac, Microsoft or Linux) and any browser. Okay, that's an exaggeration. This solution works best on Firefox, but it is possible to run it on IE with an ActiveX plugin.
ajaxWindows is a complete virtual PC that marries the familiar Windows interface to the prettiest lovechild of the Web 2.0 orgy. It's entirely browser-based, providing a remote operating system and engine for applications.
Built-in creature comforts include the ability to:
* customize menus
* customize ajaxWindows itself (your webmail, your homepage, your default search engine of choice)
* launch applications
* navigate through your folders
* drag and drop icons
* back up documents
* make the experience slightly more realistic, simply by going full-screen
ajaxWindows can "create your virtual PC in its likeness" by syncing information from your desktop OS. Robertson totes it as a useful means of backing up your files even if, for some reason beyond us, you don't want a virtual computer.
Because ajaxWindows wasn't developed by Microsoft, it's able to simplify life in ways Microsoft wouldn't, for fear of dirtying its pants in enemy territory. Documents and certain file types, for example, are stored in a Gmail account, and MP3s are stored in an MP3tunes locker. If you have neither of these, ajaxWindows easily guides you through the set-up process.
The desktop also comes prepackaged with a series of free applications, including an Office-style suite programmed to open, edit and save docs from Microsoft Office (courtesy of Ajax13).
Get a broader sense of it all at ajaxWindows.com. It's been down most of today, allegedly because of "massive amounts of user registrations and traffic."
Hey, we didn't tell you there wouldn't be setbacks to plunking the whole of your life down into a browser.
To kill time, it might merit checking out Michael Robertson's blog. He's also got links to an online demo and a video. Granted, it would probably help our case if nothing was down and the pictures were actually available, but the premise is cool in any case. And if it's everything he promises, we're going to join the critical mass of registrations.
"For some this will be a bit scary, but this type of web-based, service-oriented model is the way of the future," Robertson writes. Bravely, he adds, "We may wake the giant, but we’re ready."
Well, we're ready whenever you are, Michael.
For a contrarian view, check out what Nick Gonzalez at TechCrunch had to say. (Note this was three months before the launch.) And to comment on this tall order yourself, jump down and start scribbling.