During the last few years there has been a swarm of new and affordable computers ideal for browsing the web and doing minor computing tasks such as writing documents, viewing and organising photo’s, and playing minesweeper. These devices were aptly named ‘Netbooks’. They were pretty much just miniature laptops with basic components such as around 1GB of RAM, a small ish hard drive, and usually no optical drive.

Netbooks were the next big thing, or so it seemed. They were great value and performed basic tasks with ease, but on the other hand they also lacked in screen size, and the keyboard was shrunk down to compensate the 10/11inch screen and usually ran an older windows operating system such as XP.

Since the boom in tablets over the past year, from the smaller 7-inch tablets, right up to the larger 10+inch variants, spending a couple of hundered on a netbook that is easily out performed by a tablet of similar price, it’s easy to see why we’re beginning to hear less about the netbook craze. That being said, there may be a new contender on the horizon – well, they’ve been there for a while, but thanks to one device in particular, they may be getting to us a little sooner.

chromebookI’m talking about the Chromebook. The Chromebook is a personal computer that runs the Chrome OS, this Operating System is basically a stripped down Linux OS that’s main interface is web based, and needs the internet to function. Though it’s not officially been categorised as such, but it certainly has all the properties to be a WebTop.

web desktop or webtop is a desktop environment embedded in a web browser or similar client application.

For those of you who don’t know much about the Chromebook, I won’t bore you with details, but basically it’s a laptop (either made by Samsung or Acer depending on your preference) that claims to be super fast and offers immediate access to all of your favourite Google services such as Chrome, YoutTube, Gmail, and Google Drive – to name a few. Oh and did I mention that it costs around £200?

The main attraction to the ‘WebTop’ for me is that pretty much any computer or laptop can run one. This is because most of the storage is done in the Cloud, either through Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, or any other cloud storage of your choosing. Not only that, you can take your OS anywhere with you, thanks to the ability to sync from anywhere providing you have an internet connection.

Here’s a wicked example – My 6 year old Compaq laptop. It’s seen better days. It used to run Windows Vista, it’s casing is cracked with parts missing, and the mousepad has almost worn through. About a month ago, it wasn’t doing too well, it’s had everything on it over the past few years from Windows 7, Windows XP, and Linux, but this time it just couldn’t really cope with the bulkier operating systems.

joliosThis is why I decided to go with JoliOS. It’s another Linux based web desktop operating system that’s fast, reliable, and doesn’t use up too many resources, and it all works through the Jolicloud platform so everything is there when you need it. Best of all it’s free! Even better than that though, if I were to utilise it to its potential by storing all of my media onto the cloud, I could install JoliOS onto a pen drive, and then if I were to visit a friends house and wanted to show them something that was on my laptop, but didn’t have it to hand, I could whack my pen drive into their computer, boot up via the flash drive and there’s my computer, on theirs – it’s fantastic.

It’s built for low cost computers, with the lack of up to date and fast hardware in mind. Because of the way it’s built it also doesn’t succumb to viruses or malware because in all fairness, there’s no real operating system to attack. I can’t really sing JoliOS’ praises enough, it was ridiculously easy to install and set up, and everything is there in front of you, no “start menu”, and no hidden folders – everything is just a click away!

I hope thanks to the Chromebook, the WebTop will take off, and cheaper, easy to use computers will become available for everyone to use.

What are your thoughts on the WebTop? Could it be 2013’s next big thing?


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