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In metacomputing[1], WebOS and Web operating system are terms that describe network services for internet scale distributed computing[2], as in the WebOS Project at University of California, Berkeley. In both cases the scale of the web operating system extends across the internet.

However, the terms WebOS and Web operating system have been employed more broadly and with far greater popularity in the context of the World Wide Web, and for many meanings ranging from singular systems to collections of systems. In April of 2002, Tim O'Reilly spoke of "the emergent Internet operating system" as an open collection of Web services. WebOS, in this instance, refers to a software platform that interacts with the user through a web browser and does not depend on any particular local operating system

Common to all uses, a Web operating system is distinct from Internet Operating Systems[3] in that it is independent of the traditional individual computer operating system. This conception of the system reflects an evolution of research in the field of operating systems into the increasingly minimized, distributed, and for distributed systems increasingly defined in terms of the specification of their network protocols more than their implementations.

WebOS ProjectEdit

The WebOS Project is a computing research project started at the University of California, Berkeley to develop suitable software development abstractions for applications that run over a network. The abstractions it provides include:

  • a filesystem that identifies data by URLs
  • a location-independent resource naming system
  • secure remote execution
  • secure data access
  • fail-safe transactions

Research on WebOS has continued at Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Washington.

The conception of the web operating system in the WebOS project can be characterized as a finite or catalogued collection of services.


WebOS gained popularity in 1999 when a much touted start up, WebOS Inc. (at first known as MyWebOS, was founded by Berkeley grad Shervin Pishevar and Emory grad Drew Morris. WebOS licensed the WebOS technologies from Duke University and University of Texas (Austin) and recruited Dr. Amin Vahdat, Professor of Computer Science at Duke, who had pioneered the WebOS technologies at University of California at Berkeley where he got his PhD on his WebOS research. WebOS acquired, which was created by a young Swedish programmer, Fredrik Malmer, who had created the first online desktop environment. Soon after, some of the top DHTML and Javascript programmers in the world such as Erik Arvidsson of WebFx fame, Dan Steinman, creator of the Dynamic Duo Cross-browser DHTML API, joined WebOS. WebOS raised over $10 million in financing from Impact Venture Partners led by Adam Dell and Grotech Capital. WebOS was launched with a vision of created the first web operating system complete with a WebOS API allowing developers to create Windows-like web applications that worked an extremely fast speeds by caching much of the code in the local browser. Arvidsson later launched Bindows, a framework very similar to the WebOS API, that does much of this and is used by many large companies and the US Military. WebOS filed the very first WebOS patents in 1999. WebOS competed with another start up,, which was aimed more at the consumer market. WebOS was covered by many media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, financial Times, LA Times, Power lunch on CNBC, Fox News and CNN and helped spread the WebOS meme further. WebOS launched Hyperoffice, a full office suite, back in 1999.

External LinksEdit

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