Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Can Web Applications Replace Desktop Applications?

Ladies & gentlemen, geeks & nerds, my dear readers - I am, as an independent software developer, in an annoying crossroad: should I keep developing web applications or should I move to development of desktop applications.

The reason for keeping developing web applications are various:

1. The trend during recent years has been to use online applications for basic needs: email, file sharing, social networks or games. Also there's has been a trend to use combined desktop & web application (installed software that functions by connecting to the web), such as: Skype or chat applications. Because most of the users are basic users (as opposed to technical users, like programmers or bloggers), this is a major argument.

2. Web applications can be accessible from everywhere, giving users the flexibility of accessing their email,documents or images without being near their personal computers.

3. No need of installation - most people are lazy and like everything done for them. So bypassing the phase of installation or updating is definitely an argument.

The reasons for developing desktop applications:

1. It's very hard to believe that web applications, running on a browser, can be equal or better than desktop applications. It's important to take into account, that browsers (by their nature) are quite restricted in using the computer's hardware. This issue is crucial in complex applications (like: image processing or sound processing applications).

2. Confidentiality - When using an online application, the user's data is generally vulnerable to misuse by the hosting site. Who would want their financial data to be open to stranger's eyes?..

3. Speed - using a web application means communicating with a distant server, which makes it usually slower (depends on the user's bandwidth).

Conclusion - it seems that sole desktop applications will be losing power in the next years, partially for desktop-web applications (like:Skype) and partially for web applications (like: Gmail or GoogleDocs).

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