With computer users increasingly relying on the cloud, a group of researchers are planning on the next step - a fully cloud based operating system, TransOS.
Cloud computing has been a buzzword for some time, with many businesses utilising some form of computing 'as a service'. In fact most PC, laptop and smartphone users are likely to have made use of simple cloud storage services such as Dropbox or Sky Drive at some point.
Now researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing are hoping that developing TransOS could persuade users to entrust their entire operating system software, which ties hardware and software applications into one interface, to the cloud.
The system would require only a minimal amount of code to enable a connection to servers hosting the OS, allowing connections from a "dummy terminal".
This would have a number of benefits, according to the researchers. For example, software would be automatically updated externally, while the hardware demands would be lower as much of the computing would be performed off-site. Processing power would not be drained by an inactive operating system either. Of course, consistent access to an internet connection would be critical for TransOS, and would require an even higher level of trust in an external service provider.
As well as performing OS functions on PCs and notebooks, the researchers claim that the system could be used to support all manner of hardware, from smartphones and tablets, to home appliances such as fridges or washing machines. However, such widespread use would require architecture and interface standards to be established.