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Jaxtop tries to blur the line between Windows and Web

Jaxtop tries to blur the line between Windows and Web

Where does the Web end and your desktop begin? The developers of OnSlides' Jaxtop are trying to blur the line. Jaxtop is an online palette for widgets (called slides in Jaxtop), such as photos, notes, and RSS feeds. It's like an Internet start page such as Netvibes, although Jaxtop's is a lot less structured. You can put your widgets anywhere on your desktop, which makes it more like an online version of the PC widget utility, Yahoo Widget Engine or the Mac OS's desktop widgets.

Jaxtop is similar in some ways to "Web OS" experiments, such as YouOS, and graphical Web suites, such as Desktoptwo. The slides in Jaxtop are not as ambitious as the apps in these other products, though. Jaxtop's slides are accessories (notepads and RSS readers) rather than applications (spreadsheets and e-mail clients). There is a place for this, especially in light of Jaxtop's most interesting pitch: you're encouraged to take your Jaxtop online desktop and mirror it on to your PC desktop, using Windows' capability to display a Web page as your desktop background.

Sadly, getting the Windows active desktop component to work is difficult (the instructions on Jaxtop's site are wrong, for starters), and corporate users may even have the Web desktop capability of Windows turned off. Plus, the Jaxtop slides are not that powerful. The file bucket, for example--a useful place to store files, especially if you share your desktop with others)--is not drag-and-drop. On the Web it's awkward enough to have to browse your PC's directory tree to upload files; on the PC, using a non drag-and-drop file container runs completely counter to the user interface standards we're all accustomed to.

I can't recommend this service, but what Poussin and company are trying to do with this application is interesting. Their thesis is that if you want something on your desktop, it should be there regardless of whether you're working on your PC's desktop, even if it's offline, or on some other computer logged in to your Web account. I like the idea of having a canvas that is both on my PC and on the Web. Jaxtop isn't it, at least not yet, but I am looking forward to seeing this concept evolve.