It's here - the much vaunted Second Life running in a browser - using cloud rendering / streaming service Gaikai. Here's a video of my first use, in Chrome. Worked remarkably smoothly, except that changing appearance didn't always respond to my clicks and even then sometimes just didn't work. First place I was dropped was not very interesting and empty (see video). However, it works - from the timer it seems you get an hour to explore select destinations, during which you can obviously sign up at any point for a full account. This is exactly as needed a way to drop into events and places of interest for 'a quick look'. Cloud rendering is expensive,so the one hour limit seems reasonable, given that there is as yet no measure of how many 'guests' will convert into real accounts - which has to be the ambition - there's no way to participate in the economy of SL as a guest.

If you want to try simply go to and wait. The only disconcerting thing is that you don't get to choose anything at all before being dropped in world, so I started as a girl. This is not quite purist "one click and you are in" - they are capturing your email so they can pester you to sign up later I guess.Normal 'ALT' camera controls work, and work very smoothly. I'm now a lot more interested in cloud rendering than I was 15 minutes ago.

I've spent a bit more time with this now. Seems that going back in with the same email address resets the 60 minute timer, so right now you could effectively keep coming back as a guest as often as you like. Contrary to first reports, it is a flash based viewer, at least in Chrome. There are 30 destinations, very varied. Some are quite busy - just depends what timezone they are in and whether there is actually an event on at the time. It's still SL though, which is good and bad. The second time I jumped in, I landed in a shop underneath someone else. I could hear music, but there was nothing to indicate to me that actually this was also a concert venue and I needed to walk through the shop to the concert. Concert was busy - and therefore laggy - someone did eventually welcome me, and I typed 'thanks' - and the typing animation started 20 seconds later, and never stopped.

I then jumped to a Caribbean destination and the first to things that rezzed right next to me were pose balls labelled Massage M and Massage F. All quite disconcerting and confusing for new users.

This is a huge step for Second Life and virtual worlds in general. For me the jury is out on the business model - given the costs of cloud rendering - how do you pay for it? A clue is that Gaikai describe themselves as a game advertising service, not a cloud rendering service for games. Having tons of people connected for long periods 'really' playing would require them to pay a substantial subscription. Still, it seems the viewer technology is ready to bring lots of people into Second Life. But the Second Life world itself might not be.