Chrome OS is a promising cloud-based operating system, but the big complaint most people have about it is that Chrome OS is entirely browser-based. New netbook OS Jolicloud is a lot like Chrome OS, but with the addition of killer desktop apps.
Before you even consider Jolicloud, you may want to look at their big list of compatible devices. It's pretty huge, and I'd also suspect not complete. I'm actually testing it in a virtual machine and it's working just fine, and it would probably work on a fair amount of other hardware.
Think you'd like to try it out? You can install it easily from Windows using a simple installer. Rather than wipe out your Windows installation, it simply carves out some partitioned space on your hard drive so you don't have to worry about ditching Windows altogether just to try it out.
Once your Jolicloud installation is complete, you'll end up at the login screen.
Enter the username and password you created during installation, and when you log in, you'll end up staring down the Jolicloud netbook launcher screen.
You'll also be prompted to set up your Jolicloud account at this point, but unfortunately the specialised Jolicloud accounts—which is part of what makes Jolicloud so cool—requires an invitation code, so you'll probably want to sign up for one ASAP. If and when you do sign up with a Jolicloud homebase, you'll get access to the Jolicloud App Directory pictured below.
It's from this directory you can install your favourite programs—from Skype and Dropbox to Boxee and Spotify in a single click. When you're logged in to Jolicloud, you've also got access to your social stream:
...and a convenient update manager:
In short, Jolicloud is a very impressive looking netbook operating system. Sure it's just a specialised interface running on top of Ubuntu and powered by a lot of Mozilla Prism packages. The App Directory makes the operating system—as TechCrunch accurately put it—feel like an iPhonesque OS for netbooks. And unlike the current state of Chrome OS, the current alpha release of Jolicloud is actually pretty well supported.
It's probably a little unfair to compare Jolicloud to Chrome OS, since they are ultimately very different in their approach, but they are both aiming for the same market—your netbooks. If you've given Jolicloud a try in the past or just want to weigh in on its looks from the screenshots, let's hear your thoughts in the comments.