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            Recently Mozilla Firefox released a web based OS called Firefox OS. It was not released to the general public but developers were able to get their hands on a few thousand handsets to begin developing apps.

            Firefox OS is a Linux-based open source operating systems for smartphones and tablets. It is designed to allow HTML5 applications to communicate directly with the device’s hardware using Javascript. The project proposal was to “pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone OS for the open web in order to find the gaps that keep developers from being able to build apps that are in every way equals of native apps built for the iPhone and Android.

            As the software stack is entirely HTML5, there are already a large number of developers that could start building apps with little to no training. The phones won’t make their way to the United States until 2014, initially they will be released in Europe and Central America and they will be cheap, less than one hundred dollars. The goal here is to eliminate the “what came first, the chicken or the egg” situation that has been hold other operating systems back from competing with iOS and Android. Simply people won’t buy the phones because there are not as many apps, and developers won’t make the apps because people won’t buy them.

            Currently the most popular example of a web based OS is Chrome OS, which runs on Google’s Chromebooks.

            There are many pros with a web based OS. First, since the user’s data and applications are in the cloud tasks like software updates and backing up data are eliminated. This also gets rid of the fear of loss of data due to damaged or lost equipment, moving to new hardware would be as simple as logging in. There is one huge flaw with these operating systems, if internet connection is lost; the hardware becomes nothing more than an expensive paper weight.

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            For the immediate future it looks like iOS and Android will remain on top, but soon there could be a new competitor and a need to find developers for Firefox OS.


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