Choosing an Online Desktop

May 31, 2008
Updated • Dec 13, 2012

A few years ago the idea of cloud computing seemed vaguely absurd to me. I infinitely preferred using desktop software to any kind of online alternative and I hated the idea of having my data floating off somewhere in the "cloud".

I liked it here, at my desk... safe.

2 years later and I still prefer using desktop software but have slowly made my data accessible to me anywhere over the Internet. I manage my email through a desktop client but it's also all stored online (Gmail, Hotmail), my bookmarks are all kept in, I use FeedDemon which synchronises my feeds to NewsGator online, my documents are stored in a couple places including Live Mesh and Office Live and all my photos are backed up. I have almost a dozen social network profiles and 5 different email accounts.

In fact the only thing that I hadn't moved online was my actual desktop itself. After trying out the tech preview of Live Mesh my interest became aroused in the whole subject as I wanted something more fully featured.

I managed to find almost a dozen online desktops and gave every single one a trial as I determined which provided the best experience. I've managed to narrow the list down to three.



This was possibly the fastest desktop I tried; menu's opened as snappily as on my PC and icons and windows could be dragged and moved smoothly.

The interface is similar to Windows so you'll have no trouble navigating around the desktop for the first time. A number of programs are provided such as RSS reader, email, media player, Address book, IM and web browser.

The biggest failing of Desktop2 is that there is no office suite. Not Google Docs, not Zoho, nothing. Also only 1 gigabyte of storage is allocated for free accounts and advertising is displayed on the desktop. It's not too bad but it does get fairly annoying with time.



It's still a little buggy (eg: windows will sit in a "loading" state forever) but still pretty impressive. It follows the Windows interface to the point of having an XP style "start" menu. There really are a lot of application provided and the ability to add plenty more if you wish. It has a good "explorer" style file management system and sharing capabilities. has become my favourite online desktop and the one I would most recommend. It's not the fastest, best looking or most stable, but it manages to provide the compromise between all three plus adding in a lot of functionality and does the best job of integrating with online identities and web apps.

There are just so many little things about which make it so much more of a pleasure to use like clicking and dragging to select a number of icons and customizing the desktop. Little things, but ones that a lot of online desktops simply don't have.

You will also get 5 gigabytes of online storage and 3 gigabytes for email. Invite more people to sign up and receive an additional gigabyte for every person who joins. It has two office suites; Google Docs and Zoho, I prefer Docs as its a little speedier although Zoho gives a lot more functionality.

I like because you can really make it feel like your own workspace, and for me that's most of the appeal of working on a PC.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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