One of the most intriguing concepts for the future of the PC industry we’ve heard lately has been Dell’s Project Ophelia, a USB thumb drive-sized “computer-on-a-stick” that can plug into any monitor’s USB port to transform it into a makeshift computer capable of running multiple operating systems. PCWorld reports that an early version of Ophelia that will only run Android will ship out to developers starting in July and could ship out to consumers as soon as August. The first version of Ophelia “will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities and is aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web,” says PCWorld, which means that monitors using Ophelia will be more like Chromebooks than traditional PCs.
Dell’s plans for Ophelia are much more ambitious than just making Android-based computers on USB drives, of course. We learned earlier this year that Dell eventually wants to give Ophelia the ability to run Windows, OS X, Chrome and other assorted operating systems that users can switch between. Dell would deliver these operating systems virtually through its cloud services, which explains how the company can support so many different platforms on such a small device.
In this way, Dell isn’t competing with Microsoft and Apple, but with Google and its Chromebook computers that similarly deliver applications and data through the cloud and not through hard drive storage. The difference is that while Google’s computers are thinly veiled attempts to move users away from Windows-based applications and toward Google Apps, Dell’s Ophelia would give users a wide choice of cloud-based apps from several different providers.