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YouOS (winter 07) shutting down? (youos.com)
30 points by sown on July 29, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments

Hi, I'm one of the founders of YouOS. Yeah, we're finally shutting it down. We haven't been working on YouOS actively since November 2006. Why it failed is a long blog post for another time (it centers around not finding a use for it ourselves).

Since then, Sam started thesixtyone.com, Jeff works at 23andme, and Joe and I recently sold our new startup, projectwedding.com to eHarmony.

It's this last item, logistically, why we're shutting it down at this time.

My wife is a wedding photographer and I must say that projectwedding.com was a brilliant idea.

Congratulations on selling projectwedding

it centers around not finding a use for it ourselves - how did you guys get the inspiration/motivation to work on pojectwedding.com? Either/both of you got married and found such a service lacking?

Yes - Joe was engaged when we started it; he was having trouble finding good wedding vendors.

People don't get it, do they. I have ZERO interest in an operating system. No, it's not that I have zero interest in an online operating system, I have no interest in any operating system at all! What I want are quick and convenient applications, and the OS itself is totally irrelevant. So anyone who tries to apply a paradigm that was forced on us to something that we choose to use will ultimately fail.

What is needed is not an OS, it's an organiser. A place I store files, write letters, etc. Not some multiple window thingy, but some simply thing that gives me quick access to my applications.

Everyone trying to recreate Mac OS or Windows, but webbased is doomed to failure. Mac OS and Windows are used because people don't have a choice as to what desktop paradigm they can use. If one decides to switch, there are no applications, so you are forced into using a particular way.

But it has always been a flawed design, so don't copy this stuff.

Do you really care about access to your applications (e.g. MS Word) or the functionality they provide (e.g. editing a document)? I think it's more likely just the functionality + the information. I think more likely Mac OS and Windows are doomed to failure. All I want is my information + function + communication (an emergent property of this would seem to be collaboration).

It depends on the application. Notepad I held no feelings toward. But I will fight to the death to protect my use of TextEdit.

And you seem to forget, unless I'm misreading you: a part of using an application is the experience it provides. What are you saying will beat Mac OS and Windows? Google Docs? Buzzword? Hardly.

Good point. I think user experience is important as well. But as demonstrated by many of arcane JavaScript emulators out there (vi, terminals, etc), I'm sure you could devise just about any user experience you would like in a simple web page. I'm not sure the Windows and Mac OS killer exists yet, but I think they will become increasingly irrelevant (as well as the non-browser apps installed on them).

That's always possible, but I'd bet against that. Perhaps in the long, long run, but I think that 10 years from now the desktop will still house the killer apps. Not the Internet.

For me, creating a web OS is the wrong thing to do because the web already is an OS. It just needs more apps porting to it, and more interoperability between them.

If you really want to create a new platform, I think it lives or dies depending on the apps you can get on it that can't be found elsewhere. I don't know if youos had any such killer apps...

I have to disagree. The Web doesn't handle interrupts or do memory allocation, schedule process and so forth. To call it that means you have to shed all meaning of the word operating system.

That is correct.The web is an OS, and we only need to structure it a bit more or find a way to unify applications as Google does. Google is the web OS.

The web is not an OS. The web is a layer that operates through an OS.

The distinction is important to make, because it demonstrates both the web's greatest advantage (the fact that it can reach across many computers at once) and its greatest weakness (it will always be slower than the desktop equivalents).

What can you do on a Windows PC that you cannot if you have access to a browser on a Linux based computer?

As of today, play high performance games.

There's a good argument for buying a games console.

You can do it on the web. You just cannot do it better.

... Just like an application written for an O/S will always be slower than a custom written application which runs straight on the hardware with no O/S.

It depends on your definition of O/S, and what you think it should do.

It would be cool if i could hack the Google kernel, too bad its closed source :D

it's called WWW and it's not an OS

I agree... take a look at this... especially the videos(http://www.nestedguis.com)

http://www.storylinez.com/ is ridiculously unusable. (Linked from nestedguis)

It's uses hover and zoom to navigate. not clicking. Did you watch one of the videos?

It's also incredibly slow, though. I think that is what axod was referring to. The UI gets in the way of what actions you want to perform.

Thanks. I am tweaking the experience as to not have the UI in the way. I see some of that as well.

Where is the slowness you have? The pics loading, or the hover reacting? I don't have any.. except when previewing the hovered sites and waiting for them to load.

the feedback is really appreciated.

Actually, the page loading is pretty good. The important thing about that is you show a loading icon, so I know to wait a bit.

Some of the slowness seems to be the initial loading, because the responsiveness improves after the first visit. Since the background images seem to mostly be eye-candy, you might want to think about removing them. They also make your first visit to the site more confusing (in my opinion).

I also see some slowness in the hover and zooming, and that seems to stick around so I don't think it is a loading issue. You might want to reconsider the amount of animation that is done by the hovering; I already know where my mouse is, and some of the actions seem to simply highlight that.

I hope this helps, and thanks for putting your stuff up for us to play with.

yes. Sorry, but it's also slower than evolution.

Using hover instead of click doesn't save me time, it wastes more of it.

I would agree in some cases. I only said you don't use click to navigate because I didn't understand what your issue was. You can click out anywhere... On the title, the nav bar, or the web links. That will open in a new tab. Would that address the speed/clicking usability.?

btw, sorry to hijack this thread.

I'd love to see some insight into what went right, what went wrong, the decision to shut down etc

What went wrong: they tried to do a "web OS." So many of these have failed, or are on track to fail, that it really surprised me to see a new one the other day.

I would like to add, insight from the investors on the reason for investing, what changed in the past 2 years, and if the market conditions have changed, if an opportunity still exists?

in the case a startup attempt fails this is the most valuable thing that is left for the founders.

So, asking them to hand it to you is a bit obnoxious

Not really.

Roger Ehrenberg has been writing some great posts on what went wrong with his company (Monitor110) at informationarbitrage.com, and has been getting some great feedback.

They can leave the private stuff to themselves, but it wouldn't be completely unreasonable for a y-combinator-funded company to at least briefly post a "what went wrong" for the benefit of future startups. They'll still have all their knowledge and experience, and sharing that won't take it away from them.

Doesn't mean it must happen public. You can be certain when someone decides to shut down they've already had that kind of discussion, with people the would like to share these thoughts.

if their plan was flawed, then sure, they could let others waste time to come to the same conclusion, but that seems mean to me. If they'd rather not say though completely up to them.

I think it is interesting though, as web OS things were hyped up at one point. It'd be useful to know if youos shutdown because the plan was flawed, or for some other reasons.

When you launch, they say it's a cool new idea. When you quit, they say it wouldn't work. Why are people so inconsistent?

It's a different group of people that speak up each time.

Group A doesn't care about looking at shut-downs, only at the "blooming opportunities of the Internet." They talk all the time about cool new things. Group B doesn't care about blather, but when Group A asks why something isn't working they'll explain it.

Because people can learn from the experience?

I remember showing this to all my friends at school. I opened it up and opened the browser, then i opened it in that browser and opened a browser in that and i did that until IE crashed :D They were all like "Wow, cool"

So what do we need? More advanced browsers?

Didn't they move on to thesixtyone.com?

I dunno. But I keep seeing this http://www.projectwedding.com/ link around their pages.

Its interesting that projectwedding.com has © 2006-2008 eHarmony, Inc. at the bottom.


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