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Opera Unite takes home PCs into the cloud

August 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Reprinted with permission from my original article featured on the TalkTalk official blog

Accessibility. It is perhaps the main drive behind the first wave of Cloud computing. It’s something that the exciting new Google Chrome OS is keen to promote and a factor which will come to simplify the lives of millions. In short it means having the ability to access your digital content from any web connected computer in any place at any time. Think of the possibilities. Never would you forget that important document or presentation, never would you be caught short without our favourite music, movies, television shows or eBooks. Sure, Cloud Computing hopes to achieve this by storing all our information securely online but its widespread acceptance will be measured in years, not weeks or months. Likewise expe

Accessibility. It is perhaps the main drive behind the first wave of Cloud computing. It’s something that the exciting new Google Chrome OS is keen to promote and a factor which will come to simplify the lives of millions. In short it means having the ability to access your digital content from any web connected computer in any place at any time.

Think of the possibilities. Never would you forget that important document or presentation, never would you be caught short without our favourite music, movies, television shows or eBooks. Sure, Cloud Computing hopes to achieve this by storing all our information securely online but its widespread acceptance will be measured in years, not weeks or months. Likewise expensive web servers can perform much the same task but they require technical expertise and ongoing monthly costs. So what if there was an easier and free way to do all this right now…?

This is what ‘Opera Unite’ looks to do. It is the brainchild of Opera, the innovative software developer behind the browser of the same name. The two minute tutorial video above provides a simple walkthrough of how it works but the fundamental point is you can easily share and remotely access folders on your computer using nothing more than the latest version of the Opera web browser.

To provide user security the content you share can be set with three access levels: public, limited and private and Opera Unite will create a URL and optional password for you that can be passed onto friends, family and colleagues. So what can you share?

On the most basic level documents, music and photos but more advanced users can host websites, chat rooms and even create a secure environment to securely exchange data. And Opera assures us this is only the beginning.

“Today, we are opening the full potential of the Web for everyone,” said Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner at the launch of the service. “Technology moves in distinct cycles. PCs decentralized computing away from large mainframes. Opera Unite now decentralizes and democratizes the cloud… consumers have the flexibility to choose private and efficient ways of sharing information. We believe Opera Unite is one of our most significant innovations yet, because it changes forever the fundamental fabric of the Web.”

Needless to say this is a big claim but Tetzchner may not be far wrong. Certainly there are limits with the inherent simplicity of Opera Unite – namely the PC hosting the information needs to remain on and the Opera browser must be used – but it does indeed flip around the traditional fabric of the web. After all, in the beginning the internet was solely about consuming the data provided by others, then ‘Web 2.0′ brought social networking and user generated content. Now the consumer friendly approach of Opera Unite could drive a third stage: decentralisation and accessibility.

Or in other words: your data under your control available anyplace, anywhere, anytime.

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Google Chrome OS and what it means for you

July 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Reprinted with permission from my original article featured on the TalkTalk official blog

There is a new operating system in town and it’s built by Google…

This month the search giant announced ‘Chrome OS’ – a strange name you’d think because it is named after the Google Chrome web browser. Surely what is usually just one component of an operating system should not be the inspiration for it? After all you don’t see Microsoft announcing ‘Internet Explorer OS’.

In actual fact however this is exactly what Chrome OS is, an operating system named after a web browser which is its inspiration and core. The argument is simple: research shows users now spend the majority of their time on a computer using the web browser and Google believes elements traditionally outside it can be seamlessly integrated in time. This strategy includes an impending redesign of Google Docs which it hopes will tempt users away from Microsoft Office.

Chrome Google Chrome OS and what it means for you

So is Google OS simply an operating system which loads a web browser? In short we don’t know. What we do know it is will be open source so anyone can develop for it and that it will be built upon Linux, the same core behind the increasingly popular Ubuntu platform. Google says the benefits of Chrome OS will be extremely fast boot times and much faster operation on old and low powered PCs compared to Windows.

Moving your data onto the internet means that users will be able to access it from any computer and the theory is it should be much more secure with the might of Google looking after it (conspiracy theories aside). Furthermore, if your computer breaks or is stolen then that data is safe. Critically it will also be free.

The drawbacks? We simply don’t know enough about Chrome OS yet. Google recently published a Chrome OS FAQ which confirmed major PC makers such as Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba are interested but up to now we haven’t been presented with so much as a screenshot. Google Gears will allow common online tasks such as Gmail and Google Docs to be used offline but it is still awaiting widespread industry acceptance. It is also unclear how Google will tackle popular pastimes such as gaming with Chrome OS though the OnLive Cloud based streaming model may become paramount here.

The relevance of Chrome OS however is clear. Google sees the future of computing online. As the most powerful company on the Internet that could be expected but the cost savings, performance benefits and accessibility of information online does make for a compelling argument. That said, I would stress expectations are tempered, at least initially. The first version of Chrome OS will not arrive until the second half of 2010 and Google is a company which famously likes to beta test in public so expect things to be extremely rough and ready at first.

In the meantime, whether Google or Microsoft has the right approach, there is one indisputable fact which cannot be ignored: in future we’re going to be spending even more of our time online and what we do with it will become ever more advanced. So be sure to grab yourself a fast and reliable broadband connection and hold on tight!

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

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