Recently Andy Brice from Successful Software posted a very nice article asking if desktop software is dead.
I personally think that is not dead and that is still very alive. I know inexperienced users that are running installations on their local computers to install their favorite software. And it’s very easy to understand from the user point of view as this the oldest form of applications that we know. The most used software apps, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, are all desktop products.
From the developer experience, it’s a much more matured platform. There are thousands of third party components available out there that make desktop development easier and fast. They also automate tasks that at one point were headaches like installation and auto updates.
The article mentions some of the advantages of writing a web application against a desktop one and here I have some recommendations:
It’s true this is an extra step in the desktop world, but also the process of sign in every time you want to use a web app is an extra step.
A tool like Advanced Installer makes this easier. I’ve used multiple applications to create an installer and I think this one is really good.
It’s true upgrades are a problem with desktop software, but again, there are lots of tools out there to help. Chrome and Firefox excel at this having almost a transparent process for updating.
There are ways to collect usage information from desktop apps but they can be a little difficult to implement. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done either. A web server with some REST APIs should work.
I have work with this before and it isn’t easy to do in desktop apps. Not a lot of suggestions here.
Also true for web apps but it isn’t zero either. There are users in the web applications right now trying to circumvent the system and restrictions. With desktop software you have tools that allow you revoke licenses online like LicenseSpot.
Some development platforms help here like Adobe Air and Mono in the .Net world.
It can also be done on desktop applications and we actually have some of our customers doing it with LicenseSpot using the Subscription limit.
Definitely web apps provide lots of advantages but this doesn’t mean desktop apps are dead. Lots can be done offline better than online.
What do you think about desktop apps?