During the past year I heard many opinions about all kinds of the recently introduced über-web applications, Web 3.0 if you will. Roughly we can divide them to mashups, web desktops and web operating systems. Unfortunately, more often than not, these terms are used improperly, and I wanted to get the terminology straight.
So what's in a name:
1. Mashup - a mashup is a simplest kind of über-web applications - it combines a number of so called widgets or gadgets, each one doing something useful and simple. The widgets do not inter-operate, they are developed by different people but stored in the mashup itself, often using a special widget format. Examples - iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes and My Yahoo!.
2. Web Desktop - a web desktop is tiny little bit more complicated, it's usually a GUI that looks like Windows desktop and integrates several useful web applications such as email, instant messaging, file storage and sharing. Examples - Desktop Two, YouOS, EyeOS, GlideOS and others. Interesting how many of them have OS in the names.
3. Web Operating System. According to Wikipedia, an operating system is "...is the software component of a computer system that is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources of the computer...". Rephrasing this, a Web Operating System is a software component of a large and distributed computer system that is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of all kinds of resources stored in many different places on the web.
What was once a device driver is now a web service driver, and the Web operating System coordinates and uses these drivers to provide a unified experience to the users.
Disagree? Feel free to rant here :-)