In a true online desktop, when you boot up your computer and sign in your local computer would have your whole online profile stored localy that automatically starts connecting to online services.
The second icon is our skype web-telephone icon. The normal status shows us that we are connected and have no incoming calls or messages. Even our phone service easily becomes an online experience that we can access anywhere we have an internet connection without worrying about our location.
- Writing a paper. This is usually done in Microsoft Word or Open Office. http://docs.google.com/ has a great online office suite supporting word processing and spreadsheets.
- Listening to music. This may be harder to turn in to an online service because of the RIAA, but it could easily become an online service such as youtube where you can upload your ripped CDs or music purchased through online service and then listen to it based on your login. There are already various online radio services, but the RIAA and other organisations are trying hard to kill these off.
- Watching videos. Youtube.com and videos.google.com are the two most popular ways of doing this currently. There are countless other web sites that provide the exact same service to varying degrees of quality. The current problem is a way to upload your own legally purchased videos so that only you can watch them.
- Playing games. Online games are clearly not up to par with cutting edge video games, and it is unlikely that the likes of Halo 3 will be an online Java or Flash game anytime soon, or that any cutting edge game could easily be provided via a small download online. But for those of us content with the online flash games to play things like Tetris, pinball, etc. the online experience is actually pretty good.
- Manage finances. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge there is not ane online version of Quicken or Microsoft Money. This may be a good thing though.
The easier we integrate these services into online applications that become seemless with the desktop experience, the easier and more useful we make the whole computer experience. We are already to the point where many users don't pay attention to the difference of what is a local service and an online service. If we put it all online, make it accessible from anywhere then we really empower ourselves to have all our information on the go and sharable within an instant.