The dream of true Web-based application portals for office productivity software took another step forward this week with the introduction of Desktop.com, a free Internet-based application set that offers desktop OS-like functionality.
Touting itself as the first Web site of its kind, Desktop.com offers a graphical user interface for users to create a personalized desktop, complete with personal files, links to favorite Web sites, and various other services. The promise is that from any Web browser, users would be able to log onto their own personal and familiar desktop.
As for competing with Sun Microsystems Inc.'s recently announced StarPortal or future offerings from Microsoft Corp., Desktop.com officials said the company is heading in a different direction.
"What we're doing is different in that we are focused on the environment and infrastructure of applications, we want to be the point where you log in," says Katie Burke, chief executive officer and co-founder of Desktop.com. "Applications aren't necessarily where we expect to be building value. It's more of an aggregation point."
Desktop.com offers 10MB of free storage space for work, personal, audio, or other files to which a user needs ubiquitous access. Files can be shared with other Desktop.com users so that family and friends can share photos, announcements or invitations; and company work groups can share documents, files or to-do lists.
The company is also making available the API (application programming interface) with which programmers can develop various Web-based applications. Applications running inside windows within Desktop.com are accessible through icons or pull down menus and look and feel similar to many PC programs.
Burke said that as of today, the service doesn't have a tremendous appeal to enterprise users, but as Web-based applications continue to proliferate, Desktop.com may serve as a way to aggregate disparate applications onto a desktop.
Desktop.com, in San Francisco, is at http://www.desktop.com/.