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By Kris Tuttle

For the past month we have been an active user of Jolicloud which is a netbook OS that can most easily be described as an alternative to whatever the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chrome OS will be.

My Eee PC was just fine running XP but because Jolicloud can be installed in a separate bootable partition it’s easy to try. In this case a choice is offered at startup so it’s easy to switch to the other OS if you don’t like Jolicloud.

Installing the OS is simple and is completed with one very large (600MB) download and running the installation program. I found the overall interface and visual rendering to be very good, although at first few applications are pre-installed.

This initial uncertainty was cleared away quickly once I discovered the application download pages where you can get all your favorites (Google Chrome, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.) Installation was faster and easier than on XP. In this case the Jolicloud management layer made the user experience more consistent and it didn’t slow anything down.

After using the system for a month I can say that the system is very stable. I had no crashes or hard failures. In addition the overall interface and most actions are more suited to the limited screen real estate and functionality of a netbook.

When I say netbook I do really mean a small lightweight client for using cloud-based applications. I expect that the ability to control user actions and keep data and application content in the cloud makes this a more secure approach.

Jolicloud is the first real alternative to Google ChromeOS for netbooks and other mobile Internet devices. It’s a pleasure to use, is fast and stable. It’s too early to know how to what degree Google will link their ChromeOS to other Google software and services in terms of the user experience.

Jolicloud has the incentive to be open and would make a good partner for Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE). Adobe has a suite of cloud-based applications that even have a UI that already looks like Jolicloud (or vice-versa.)

The rapid proliferation of cloud-based services and applications means that the capabilities of a Jolicloud netbook is expanding rapidly.

The only problem I had is that the system has some trouble explaining itself in terms of updates required and their installation.

Given the choice I tend to boot my netbook in Jolicloud unless I explicitly need to run a Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) program like IE or Excel which is only about 10% of the time.

For a new OS that’s pretty high praise in my book, given that it’s early days. We’d recommend anyone with a netbook or even notebook to try it out.

As far as implications go I’d say it means even lower cost, more functional netbooks on offer for general use or tied with carrier data plans which will provide the device at no charge. If Jolicloud catches on it could be a threat to what Google is planning with ChromeOS.

Disclosure: No positions

Source: Checking Out Jolicloud, A Potential Threat to Google's Chrome OS