Services & Software

Virtual desktop trifecta at Web 2.0 Expo

Desktops on your browser: Yes, it's been done before, but these three companies are trying their luck at it anyway.

Several exhibitors at next week's Web 2.0 Expo are recreating the desktop workspace experience by using new Web technologies such as Ajax and Adobe Flex. This isn't a new idea, but what is interesting is how many of them have forgone creating their own tools and stuck to integrating existing Web services in a stylized portal platform.

Zcubes attempts to emulate a desktop workspace with nearly 30 different tools that mimic desktop applications. With most of the tools relegated to things like casual drawing, comic strips, and Web browsing, the emphasis of the suite is fun. (Global Hosted Operating SysTem) calls itself a "virtual computer," which for the most part is true. The service borrows some style cues from Windows XP and has floating widgets like what you'd find on YourMinis. It uses Pandora as a music jukebox, and Meebo as an IM client. users also get 3 GB of free online storage, which can be used for saving things while away from a home PC.

Sparc integrates Thinkfree Office, 50 GB of online storage, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and a DVD conversion tool. Sparc is a little different from the other two apps, as it requires a small, self-running Java download to get going. We're interested to see the pricing and partnerships with this one, as 50GB of Web storage isn't something that's being handed out for free these days.

See also: Peepel, YouOs, Xcerion.

Related: Web OS: coming to a desktop near you