The vast majority of software development projects can be categorised to either be a desktop or a web application. The difference being that the desktop application is something that is downloaded and installed on your machine locally, whereas the web application runs over the internet, via your browser.
As the power of the internet increases, specifically, the faster speeds that are becoming more accessible, it makes sense that things are moved to the cloud. After all, it allows easy access from anywhere with an internet connection. So, it would appear the traditional desktop application is dead? Maybe not…
If you think about the desktop applications you have installed, some may, or may not have web equivalents; however, a lot of us still prefer to use the traditional version. For example; Microsoft Word, Outlook and other office programs are the most common examples where people prefer to use the desktop based version.
Desktop programs will still be preferred for such tasks as you are always connected. As much as the internet has come on in the last few years, we are still not at a point where we are constantly connected, and this is one of the biggest weaknesses of a web app.
If you lose access to the internet, you are completely shut out. If you have a slow internet connection, it makes it almost impossible to use. One of the biggest advantages of desktops apps is that you always have access, on the train, plane, or an office where the internet is down, and you can continue to work. You can view emails and write responses for when you are connected, you can continue putting together those reports on Word, and there is no downtime.
One of the other drawbacks that we hear clients complaining about when looking at current web application solutions is the data. Not many people are comfortable with a company holding all of their data in the cloud, with no power over how it is handled, and just have to hope the software provider has put correct backup and disaster recovery processes in place. We find that people prefer to have a file that they save, can see, move and copy how they see fit.
Security is also another concern, as above, you are relying on another company having the correct security features in place to protect your valuable data. This is an even bigger concern if the software is a CRM for example, full of your customer’s sensitive details.
Now, that is not to say that these are not concerns for desktop based applications, but these issues lie in the hands of the company itself, who have control over these situations and can mitigate the risks, rather than relying on someone else to do so.
So, we would say that both application types have their positions in the market, and as long as they do what they are supposed to, most users would be happy to use either, for now.