Drund: A Neat, Flawed, Web-Based OS

By  |  Monday, February 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Drund is the website equivalent of a two-way radio wristwatch. It’s cool in theory, but with everything else that’s available, you’ll have a hard time finding a use for it.

I’ve been playing around with Drund in a closed beta for the last couple of months. Starting today, Drund will allow up to 10,000 new users to sign up without an invitation.

Drund is a website that looks kind of like Microsoft Windows. There’s a desktop with icons for favorite apps and a start button on the bottom of the screen with even more apps and operating system functions, such as a file browser and settings. But unlike Windows, Drund stores nothing locally. Instead of a photos folder, there’s Flickr. Instead of Microsoft Office, there’s a suite of online productivity apps from Zoho. For entertainment, there’s an app that pulls in video from Hulu, Netflix and Amazon.

In a way, it all sounds kind of like Chrome OS, Google’s forthcoming attempt at a web-based operating system, but Drund is different because everything is self contained in a single browser window. The apps are specially-created representations of other web services, made to run in an operating system within an operating system. You could even run Drund within Chrome OS, as you could within a browser on any PC.

The question is, why would you?

During my time with the closed beta, I’ve struggled to answer that question. I like the idea of having a single browser window with widgets for my favorite sites, such as Gmail, Twitter and Facebook, but Drund’s adaptations of those sites aren’t as fully-featured as the originals. In Gmail, for instance, there are no custom labels or threaded conversations, and Facebook’s app is unable to access Groups or Places. There’s no way Drund can keep up with these services as they become richer in features.

What I like about Drund is how it feels like an operating system. This could just be my conditioning as a long-time Windows user, but the idea of a desktop — a virtual space that exists beyond an array of browser tabs — is something I’d have a tough time letting go of with Chrome OS. Drund’s own online storage solution also seems like a fitting replacement for a local hard drive. (I wish it worked a little better. Zoho’s office apps, for example, don’t include a way to import images from Drund’s storage drive or from other apps such as Flickr.)

But as someone who’s happy with Windows 7 and comfortable with existing web apps, I don’t really have a need for Drund’s web-based OS. The whole thing feels more like a neat proof-of-concept than a product that’s ready for consumers. Perhaps that’s why, in an interview, Drund founder Lee Yi spoke of seeking investments from a “strategic partner.” More than a pile of cash, Drund desperately needs developers to build new apps and to flesh out the existing ones. Of course, that’s what every new operating system needs.

If Drund can find a way to build on its concept and make its apps more useful, it may actually go somewhere. I’d love to have a web service that pulled up dozens of my favorite apps in a single window. For now, Drund is just kind of fun to look at.



8 Comments For This Post

  1. Lee Yi Says:

    When I first envisioned Drund, I thought of a platform that’s more than an OS or app store. The platform was created in response to the number of browsers and devices both everyday users and Web developers encounter on a daily basis. Developers are becoming accustomed to writing one application five times to fit every browser in the book and users are forced to sync every device in hopes of having some type of harmony between their mobile, tablet and desktop experiences. Developers have to spend extra time and resources to develop on multiple platforms to reach the maximum number of consumers. Try as they may, users on mobile platforms cannot have access to their Android experience from Safari.

    Regarding Drund’s apps, Web service replication is not the platform’s focus. Drund does not exist to replicate and replace Facebook, but to integrate the data from the Drund Facebook app into the user’s account. The easiest way to describe this integration is through Drund’s Website Builder. The builder takes data from a user’s Drund apps and allows them to publish the desired information onto the user’s personalized website. This could be something as simple as a personal blog or a full-fledged e-commerce storefront. The ability for Drund’s apps to interact on the platform and integrate data is a key component overlooked by viewing the apps as simple Web service replicas.

    In the public beta, we’re working to give users and developers a sense of what they can expect through our platform. The team is constantly striving to make the experience all that we envisioned and that comes through feedback from the user and developer communities. I would definitely encourage you to continue to check in on Drund and for Technologizer readers to take a test drive on their own – especially if they want to have access to their personal Web from any Internet connection.

    -Lee Yi, Founder of Drund

  2. JaredNewman Says:

    Thanks for the comments, Lee.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    I saw Drund at the Launch show last week. It reminded me a bit of a modern, much slicker version of Web-based OSes such as YouOS and Ghost–both of which also looked a bit like Windows in the browser.

    I think there's an actual problem to be solved here: The Web is a bit like PCs in the 1980s, when we had WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 and Harvard Graphics and they all were quite good but didn't relate to each other or exchange info all that easily. I'd love to see ways to meld them together catch on (although to be honest, I'm not sure if mimicking Windows is the best approach).


  4. John Campbell Says:

    Tried Drund out, spell check did not work in the editor, not able to open a saved document.

    Looks promising.

  5. Sharp Says:

    completely useless. What's the point of opening web sites in moveable iframes? Using browser windows is more efficient. Reinventing the current OS desktop and putting it in a web page is a total waste of time. Think out of the box! We don't need the same stuff in a -very- limited way!!

  6. Nayef Zarrour Says:

    @Sharp – See Lee Yi's comment above. Our focus is not to "reinvent the current OS desktop and put it in a web page", but to build more value for users by allowing their data within the Drund apps to interact and integrate with one another. This type of integration can be seen in Drund's Website Builder which allows users to quickly mash-up and publish their desired data to their own personalized website.

    -Nayef Zarrour, Co-Founder and VP of Drund

  7. creek23 Says:

    How does Drund differ to eyeOS? see http://www.eyeos.org

  8. Lee Says:


    I agree with your point of opening up a web page as a JUST a limited version of a service in a i frame is a total waste of time.

    That is not the focus at all it is easier to see than to talk thru so check out what we mean for yourself. I would love to have you register for an account and give us your feedback using our get satisfaction tab.

    see it live on any of the teams websites : http://www.drund.com/team/

    or check out our demo account live at :http://demo.drund.com/ ( The Feed page is able to pull in YOUR data from the integrated service in a "Wall" time filtered format.)

    That is the power of you being able to mash up interesting data points from services you use for free in a interesting way because of the control we enable you to have.

    Sharp Thank you again for the great feedback and we look forward to getting more constructive criticism that helps us find real value propositions for all of us who use these amazing web services.

    -Lee Yi Founder