Welcome To O’Reilly’s World Of The Internet Operating System.

This past week at the first annual PayPal X Innovate Conference, technology thought-leader Tim O’Reilly gave one of the closing keynotes and something he said proved really intriguing. It focused on the operating system and how it no longer would be software available on a CD, but all based in the cloud. By this, I mean that all the elements of the operating system, including applications and software will be available in the World Wide Web and able to be downloaded when needed. It’s probably best defined according to Wikipedia as:

Internet- (“cloud-“) based development and use of computer technology (“computing”). The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the Internet, based on how the Internet is depicted in computer network diagrams and is an abstraction of the underlying infrastructure it conceals.[5] Typical cloud computing services provide common business applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on the servers.

Deep down this all makes sense. Could Microsoft and Apple be in trouble with this new form of software development? Has the web taken over all aspects that it is forcing us to rely on the web as our means of computing? Apparently so. Just look at what Google is doing now. With their announcement a while back about introducing Google Chrome OS, the search engine giant has infiltrated into most areas of our computing lives and it’s all available through downloads, not via CDs. From Google Docs to Reader, practically everything is given to us from the cloud. Now that’s not to say that it should be monopolized by Google or any one company alone. But, what this does indicate is that all aspects of software as we’re known is traditionally no longer is applicable.

It’s becoming inferior.

Yes, that’s right. I said inferior.

Why? It’s because of the power of the cloud. Something that Tim O’Reilly said during his keynote helped prove this point. When you’re using your phone or a laptop and need additional software to do some work, then the Internet shall provide for you. The phrase “There’s an app for that” holds real meaning here. If you’re interested in doing business on the road, you’re no longer going to need to travel with a laptop loaded with tons of software that will require you to share data with others simply via email or through a jump drive. Data is stored on the cloud and becomes truly portable.

For marketers, what could this mean? Perhaps that as you’re taking your message to the entire community and to your consumers, you might want to leverage the cloud? Don’t make people have to use a CD to access your software, but instead make sure that whatever software that is needed is readily available through any portable device. Whether that’s a netbook, laptop or mobile phone, there’s going to be a great need for people.

Interestingly, after looking at O’Reilly’s slides from the keynote once again, it seems that the movement has already begun. With Amazon web services, Windows Azure platform and even Google apps, users are instantly getting the information that they want. The point here is that instead of accessing the information from stationary computers like we are currently, we’re allowed data accessibility from any location using any device. The Internet Operating System has freed us from any obstacle or confinement to which we have been accustomed to. By putting your data in the cloud, you’re going to free people to use your product from any location using any of the latest forms of technology.

Perhaps PayPal has done something remarkable by opening up their system for developers to take advantage and integrate the services to their applications. Is the Internet Operating System that O’Reilly is talking about focused on integration amongst various web services as well? I’d like to think so. The Internet is one giant operating system…and why wouldn’t it? Seeing that I’m a Windows user, let’s take a look and see whether all the applications & functionality you have in Windows is available online:

  • Windows has Microsoft Office. The Internet offers you Google Docs which is housed in the cloud and allows you to create spreadsheets, presentations and documents to easily share with whomever you wish.
  • Windows has Microsoft Outlook. The Internet has email platforms like Gmail that will allow you to not only receive email, but also monitor tasks and has Google Calendar attached to let you keep track of your schedule.
  • Games can be played in Windows. But look online and you’ll be able to find plenty of things to entertain you.
  • There’s software in Windows that will allow you to touch up your photos and tweak graphics. The same is available to you via the Internet as well.

The idea here is that not everything has to be operated in a silo. Could it be that the world is now operating in the Internet and not on the computer? Is the only thing you’re really going to need at work is an Internet browser? Isn’t that what your phone is right now? A smartphone (and the iPhone) are already patched into the Internet operating system…so you just need to synch that in with whatever device you may have wherever you go. Or, just take the mobile device wherever you are and hook it up to a monitor and that’ll be your computer on the go.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the Internet Operating System. Are we at that point now or are we still a while away? You can view O’Reilly’s keynote presentation from the PayPal X conference here.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.