Glide Seeks to Deliver a Richer OS — Right In Your Browser

TransMedia will release on Monday an ambitious new version 4.0 of its Glide OS web desktop environment. Designed to run within any popular browser, it bears some distant resemblance to the cloud dreams that Google (s goog) has for its upcoming Chrome OS, but heads in several unique directions.

Glide OS has traditionally competed with other “web-based operating systems” such as Startforce and ajaxWindows.  In previous versions, it has drawn strong positive notices from PC World and other reviewers.

The new version 4.0 extends Glide’s focus on cross-platform, cross-device, browser-agnostic collaboration and applications. You can download it free as of Monday here, and run it as you would run a plug-in in almost any popular browser. Glide OS offers collaboration, productivity and syncing applications which you can use directly from its online desktop. You can use Glide’s own word processor, presentation app, groupware environment, email client, and much more, and Glide OS comes with 15GB of free online storage. You can upgrade storage from there for $4.95 in 20GB increments.

Speaking of keeping data online, that’s not the only option you have with Glide OS — an important difference between it and Google’s upcoming Chrome OS (which unlike Glide, works with local components and cloud-based ones). Chrome OS forces users to store and work with data exclusively in the cloud. That may very well be too autocratic a model for many people. Glide OS allows you to work with both local and cloud applications, and store data either locally or online.

According to Transmedia CEO Donald Leka, Glide OS’ new version is targeted to work on more devices and platforms than before. “We support over 100 mobile devices and convert file formats on the fly for them,” he said in an interview. “If you and I are sharing two spreadsheets produced in two different versions of Microsoft Office, it will automatically do the conversion. Or it will convert, say, a QuickTime file to a Windows Media file if needed.” He added that Glide OS has custom synchronization apps that work for everything from Windows applications and files to Android-based ones.

As has always been true, some people shy away from web-based operating systems due to security concerns involving working with and sharing data online, but Glide OS has historically gotten high marks for its approach to security.  It will  be interesting to see how this approach to merging the OS, the browser and applications turns out on Monday. In the meantime, I asked Leka for a number of screenshots, found below.

Social and presentation features are built in – see the “Participants:”

Glide OS integrates with popular search engines and social apps:

Glide OS does file format conversion on the fly: