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» » First Cloud Operating System could Lighten your Laptop
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By Douglas Heaven, reporter

Apple, windows or the cloud? (Image: Darren Robb/Getty Images)

Can't decide between Windows or Mac for that new laptop? An experimental new cloud-based operating system called TransOS could let you switch between them on a whim.

More and more software is migrating to the cloud, but to make your computer run you still need a basic OS on its hard drive. Until now: Zhang Yaoxue and Yuezhi Zhou at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, have developed what they claim is the first cloud-only OS. It runs on remote servers and treats traditional OSes like Windows as a resource that can be streamed to a laptop - or even phone, smart TV, fridge or other appliance - on demand.

Instead of a full version of Windows, your laptop would need to run only enough software to get it started and connected to the internet - making it effectively a "dumb terminal". TransOS would then sit as a thin layer of software sandwiched between the laptop's bare essentials and a virtual version of a conventional OS - along with all the usual programs and applications - streamed from the cloud.

Since only the parts of the OS that are required at any given time are delivered to your machine, the researchers believe that TransOS could work with low-powered computing devices as well as powerful desktop boxes.

The idea of dumb terminals is not new - it is essentially the same model as in the days before the PC, when large mainframe computers did all the hard work. TransOS would function in a very similar way, but over the internet and running on distributed servers. It brings with it the benefits of other cloud-based software - we wouldn't need to worry about pesky updates or system management.

But cloud computing also brings new security risks. Maybe that choice of operating system will always be a tough one.

Source: Newscientist

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