Splashtop's Instant-On OS Now Available as Free Download

By Bobby Schweizer

The most pervasive instant-on OS is now available to individual users. But are they interested?

Being able to access the Internet within fives seconds of pressing a computer's power button should seem bonkers to most people. What about the "Starting Windows" message and progress bar? What about the Apple logo? Loading an operating system is no small task. Even our phones have boot times that cause us to stand and stare dumbfounded at our palms when we restart Android or power on a previously dead iPhone.  
Splashtop Inc.'s Linux distro Splashtop OS has been catapulting computers from off to Internet since 2007. Despite being used by Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, LG, and Sony, the instant-on OS hasn't gained much traction in the popular imagination. Perhaps this was because it was only available on new computers through specific manufacturers, but Splashtop, Inc. has made Splashtop available for installation by intrepid users.  



Splashtop Inc.’s Senior Director of Product Management Dave Bottoms told Laptop Magazine, their data indicated 86% of users were only using the web browser. The switch from Firefox to Chromium was based on both speed and the growing availability of plug-ins for the browser. As a port of Linux distribution Meego, Splashtop is also set to deploy an application store once the major kinks are worked out.
Splashtop beta. Even though it doesn't have to handle as many possible tasks, it is still an operating system that needs to be compatible with a range of hardware. Splashtop Inc. plans on making the OS compatible with most PC systems within a year.  Splashtop is also designed to be installed from Windows, so Mac users are out of luck.  
But what kind of demand exists for this product? Without hard numbers it's impossible to know how the population uses their computer, but it is worth asking a few provocative questions. Does the average user shut down their computer on a regular basis? When these computers are turned back on, are their users looking for very specific information on the web? Or are they looking for an environment that can handle a range of needs?  
Rather than complementing heavier operating systems running on full-fledge computers, it would appear instant-on OSes might better serve mobile and tablet form factors—the kind of device you would pull out of your pocket or bag to quickly reference for specific information. Though probably not true of Tested readers, there is the possibility that Splashtop serves all the computing needs of the average person (the single-tasking iOS approach).  
The pre-installed Splashtop OS exists on over 30 million PCs, so it will be interesting to see how many users choose to download it and add it to their existing setup and, subsequently, how many stick with it.
Images via Splastop, Asus, Laptopmag