The New York-based startup Wixi Inc. launched the private beta test of their Wixi media sharing desktop last week with a presentation at Techcrunch40. Wixi offers web-based private file sharing through an Ajax desktop, complete with a Flash player. Techcrunch sums it up this way:

"Looks like a Web OS, smells like a Web OSÖbut itís a 'media sharing platform'".


I got my invitation to Wixi today and played with the service a little bit. So far I'm a little underwhelmed. Wixi clearly was inspired by the idea of a Web OS, but instead used to metaphor to allow desktop sharing. You can browse other users' dektops and flip through their files and folders.

Users can upload files and elect to share them with their friends or everyone on Wixi, or simply keep them private. Your personal desktop can also be beautified with a background picture of your choice and the ability to make new folders.


There is a lot of, well, let's say, professional content on Wixi, with some users naming themselves after popular TV shows and offering every single episode for streaming. The two "Tom" users that are automatically assigned to you as your default friends also have their fair share of Hollywood content on their virtual desktop.

Shared videos and MP3s can't be downloaded - at least not with a free account. Pay three bucks per month, and you'll get unlimited download access to all the media you want.

Well, almost all the media. Despite its name sounding like the German word for jerking off, Wixi seems to try to keep adult content out. The terms of use don't allow the upload of "nudity or pornography", and there seem to be filters in place to enforce these rules. Of course, filters are never perfect, so you'll find the odd porn clip on Wixi if you really look for it.

Wixi does have its innovative features. I like the video player that makes it possible to create playlists on the fly and get recommendations for similar items, even though the recommendation engine isn't always too accurate. Videos can also be embedded into third party websites. See below for a French introduction of Wixi.

The main issue I have with the service is that the desktop metaphor doesn't seem to make too much sense if you just want to share some files. You basically have to go from desktop to desktop to find new stuff or interesting new people - and oftentimes you'd wish for a simple profile page with a list of files instead of another slow-loading sunset desktop background to find out more about that person whose files you are looking at.

Wixi does call users' dektops "rooms", so they might eventually add chat and other interactive elements. Still, I'm not convinced I really need another desktop to share files and interact with friends. I already have a hard time keeping all my computers' desktops clear from all that digital clutter.

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