Can eyeOS Succeed Where Failed?

The founders of Barcelona-based eyeOS hope that they’ve found the right model to create a much anticipated new market – the web operating system. Like, the failed high flyer from web 1.0, eyeOS is a browser based “desktop” that gives users access to a variety of applications (word processor, chat, calendar, etc.). The free, open source project is set to launch in early 2007. I spoke to one of the founders, Pau Garcia-Milà, earlier today via IM.

Like Zimbra, eyeOS is a server based application that users must download and install to access (one reason that this is a server app – to overcome data security concerns by business customers). The company launched a hosted demo version of the product in June and has just over 80,000 registrations to test the service.

Essentially, eyeOS is like Goowy, except it does not run on Flash. The applications run on almost any browser, based on Javascript. It ain’t bad but it’s not a fully-functional Windows-replaceable operating system just yet. It has a word processing program, chat, calendar, RSS, and a Web browser. It is missing a spreadsheet and presentation program, among other things that would make it a proper OS. But it’s a work in progress.

The point is that it is a community-building effort. Founder Pau Garcia-Milá said that the company takes 90 percent of their development ideas from public requests via the Wishlist, wiki, or open forums.

“We really think that a webOS MUST be Open Source, for the simple reason
that a Web operating system tries to allow users be ‘free’ from their computer,” Garcia-Milà said. “If it’s not open source, you’re closing all of your users into YOUR server.”

eyeOS hosts the OS on their free server, funded through public donations. There are three ways to install eyeOS: MiniServer, which is the complete OS for Windows, MicroServer a lighter weight server for Windows, and Source Code, which installs the system under an existing server.

eyeOS is based in Spain, where it was founded in 2005. So far they have only been funded through $1,300 or so in donations, partly because “living in Spain means difficulties on the investment front.” Once version 1.0 launches, Garcia-Milá says that the business model will change.

See Go2Web2’s preview of ORCA today as well, a similar service.