In the past, whenever we review an online desktop app, we always come to a conclusion: “What’s the point?” If you are already using a computer to go online, most probably you already have a desktop. What’s the point of using a web-based desktop or operating system? And to surf with a browser inside a browser sounds really stupid to me. However, with the launch of Chromebook, where Google pioneers the thought of “doing everything in the cloud”, an online desktop starts to seem like a great idea.
ZeroPC is one such online desktop that aims to replace your computer desktop. It comes with a variety of (web) applications to help you stay productive and allows you to connect to your social accounts (such as Dropbox, box.net, Sugarsync etc) so all your online files are readily available.
Once you have created an account and logged in, you will be greeted with a Windows-style interface. Doesn’t matter if you are from a Windows, Mac or Linux background, the user-interface will be too familiar to you, and that is good because you can start using it immediately.
There is a Dashboard icon at the right bottom corner of the screen which when clicked, give you an overview of your ZeroPC desktop.
There are a couple of useful apps available in the desktop for your usage. A music player with the ability to stream music from your social accounts, a messenger app for your IM needs, ThinkFree Office for document editing, a video player, an universal Inbox to check emails from various accounts. It doesn’t come with a image editor though.
It also has a series of bookmarks to popular web apps like Angry Bird, Ted.com, Wikipedia, LinkedIn etc. Clicking on the bookmark launches the web link in its own window, making it looks like a native app rather than a website.
The best part about ZeroPC is the ability to connect all your social accounts in one place. The social accounts that are currently supported by ZeroPC includes
Once you connect them to your ZeroPC desktop, you will be able to access all your files/folders/contacts/update right in the desktop. You can even search for the files, folders, documents, photos, video, and music, even though they are scattered all over the cloud.
ZeroPC comes in both freemium and premium model. While you can sign up and use ZeroPC for free, you can also upgrade to the premium plan and enjoy desktop sharing, more storage space, bigger file upload size limit and several other premium options. The premium plan is interesting. Instead of paying a fixed price every month, you top up your ZeroPC account with credits and pay as you use the bandwidth and storage space. Based on its calculation, an average user who utilizes 1.8Gb of bandwidth and 3Gb of storage space pays about $2.61 per month, which in my opinion, is very affordable.
Even though ZeroPC is a web app, it still requires the installation of java plugin for it to work. On my Linux (Ubuntu) system and Chrome, it seems to have a conflict with the java plugin and keep logging me out of the session.
On another machine running Windows and Chrome browser, it works fine though. It could just be me (Linux system) that is having the above issue.
For everything that ZeroPC attempts to do, there is definitely a native app for your desktop that can do the same thing, regardless the OS you are using. However, if you are using a desktop-less PC, like the Chromebook, iPad or Android tablet, ZeroPC will be a useful app for you.