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09 August, 2008

iCloud - Every computer is my Computer as long as it runs IE!

I came across an interesting company - iCloud. They are in beta and getting their stuff together for a big release sometime in Q4 (according to thier FAQ). Their idea is that "Software should be free™". While I may not agree totally with that idea, I do believe in the Open Source commitment of community built solutions. Whether those solutions are software, homes for badgers or pet rocks. So, I did what all self respecting beta lovers do... I signed up.

Now their vision is to have your computer, whatever flavour of computer you happen to enjoy, connect to "the cloud" where all the applications you would need for "everyday computing" were at your finger tips. When you log out and log back in, your desktop pops up looking just the way you left it. I think it would be nice if they had an option where a maid came in and cleaned off my desktop now and then, but maybe in a future release.

If you are the developer mindset, you can create applications that others can enjoy. Right now, they are having a develper competition. Develop a cool icloud app and win a t-shirt and or $5K. Not bad. iCloud has an IDE to help you get going. Their website is a bit confusing about the competition deadline though. They say "There is still some time left to make an icloud application...". Then they say, the deadline is May 15, 2008. O.K. Maybe I have to make an application that resets the system clock so I can submit my app before the deadline.

Those applications can apparently be just about anything, as their vision is to get about 50 apps stood up by 2009. A pretty lofty goal if you ask me. I can't even think of 50 applications that I would use on a day to day basis. Let's see: Mail, Chat, text editor, calculator, browser, finance, drawing, photo, video, music, ... Yep, no where near 50. Which leads me to the question why there are 215 items in my Application folder, but whatever.

You can see a screen shot of their "Cloud OS" here . Looks pretty good. A finance app, calculator, calendar, weather widget, presentation editor and a bunch of other stuff. Very Linux desktop look and feel. Are those KDE gears I see? Anyway this is interesting.

What is their business model? Sadly, just another advertisement fed site. Imagine your eyeballs inundated with adverts every time you pop on over to your cloud environment. I do wish someone would come up with another way to make money besides selling adverts. How about charging for the use of the software? Oh yeah..."Software should be free™ ". Did they really trademark that?

The folks at iCloud (which is really Xcerion by the way) claim that you'll be able to access the Cloud Desktop via your computer and phone. I did not find any hardware / software requirements. Right now the desktop is only available via IE. Yep, that Microsoft browser known for not playing nice. I understand why they have to make sure their site works with IE, but I was crushed to find out it doesn't (today) work with Firefox. In all fairness, they are working on Firefox compatibility. iColud also doesn't work with Safari and thus the iPhone. Yes, I tried both and was greeted with some message saying something along the lines of "pffsst! We only work with IE. Go away you're bothering me!" O.K., their message didn't quite say that. They did say they are working on FireFox support. If they want to interface with phones, then they will have to get a Safari interface going too.

What really bothered me is that I didn't find out about the IE dependancy until right before writing this up. I mean, I just wasted my Saturday getting all excited by the "Software Should Be Free ™" vision, signing up for the beta, waiting with coffee breath for my confirmation of getting promoted to beta godliness; only to find that iCloud doesn't work with Safari. What a let down! I could of ... um.. gone ... jogging instead of sitting on my duff. Yea, that's it. iCloud stole 3 miles of jogging time away from me because nowhere that I can find do they say their beta only works with those that use Mr Softie's Browser.

Oh the shame of it all!

Well good luck iCloud. Give me a call when you get around to letting the rest of us in on your party. Until then

"e tutto per oggi!"™

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