Jolicloud, makers of a cloud-based computer operating system that pre-dates Google's forthcoming "Chrome OS" by well over a year, has finally reached version 1.0. In this release, the OS is now completely built on HTML 5, forgoing its previous dependence on Mozilla's Prism for its back-end in favor of Chromium, the same open-source project that will also become Google Chrome OS.
According to Jolicloud's CEO Tariq Krim, his company isn't trying to compete with Google for the same users; it wants to attract those who have a netbook now, are running Windows XP or a Linux-based OS and are itching for a chance to upgrade their install to something more modern and current.
Transition from Desktop to Cloud
One of the big benefits that Jolicloud has over the still-yet-to-launch Google Chrome OS is its ability to run both Web-based applications alongside traditional desktop apps such as Skype. In Google's OS, apps are Web-only. In this way, Jolicloud is more of transitional step from desktop to cloud for users not ready - or able - to make the full leap.
It even provides access to files previously stored on the computer's hard drive prior to the Jolicloud upgrade, so you don't have to worry with backing up your files and photos before making the switch. (Although you should, just to be safe). In the future, Jolicloud plans to offer tools to move these files from the computer's hard drive to the cloud prior to the upgrade, during the setup process, Krim told us recently.
700+ Apps and Counting
At present, users can access an included App Center (an app store where desktop and Web-based apps are housed) containing over 700 programs to choose from. The center is updated weekly, making it easy to find the latest and greatest applications without having to search across the Web. The App Center offers the same kind of "curated" collection that Google plans to introduce, but with the added benefit of social features that let you share and recommend apps to other Jolicloud-using friends.
Also new in version 1.0 is a "Social Stream" that details what apps are popular among the community as a whole, which have recently been updated and notifications from Jolicloud itself.
Thanks to the OS's Web-based nature, if you choose to install Jolicloud on multiple machines, your settings will remained synchronized between the devices as to how your apps are organized, which you've installed and which you've deleted.
How to Get It
Jolicloud 1.0 is in the process of rolling out to all users this week, but priority is being given to those who have been using the system the longest. You'll be notified in your "Update" page when you're able to take advantage of the new version. If you've never installed Jolicloud before, keep checking the company home page for news as to when you can try the latest version. (At present, the "pre-final" version is still listed here - that is not version 1.0.)
We've enjoyed Jolicloud ourselves thus far as a simple Web-based OS for our netbook, which is primarily used for light Web-surfing, Facebook and Twitter. However, much of what our netbook is used for these days can be done via a Web browser alone, which makes Jolicloud's key selling points its App Center and its user interface. Are those items worth upgrading the netbook's OS for? As early adopters, we have to say "yes," but whether mainstream users will soon install Jolicloud on their own netbooks is another question entirely.