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Webware vs Desktop Software
Web Applications Vs Desktop Software
By S. Housley
There has been a long running debate about
web applications replacing desktop software applications.
While some functions are better suited to web applications.
It is my belief that security concerns and legacy systems
will prevent desktop software from becoming obsolete.
Some argue that the debate between web
applications and desktop applications is pointless;
as their is no clear answer. While still others argue
that the issue at hand is as much a business and marketing
issue, as it is a technological issue.
What Defines a Web Application Vs a
A web application is an application delivered to
users from a web server like the Internet. Some businesses
run web applications on an intranet, as well. Web applications
are becoming more popular due to the widespread use
of the web browser as a client.
Some applications are better suited and
more likely to become successful as web applications.
Web applications designed specifically for search engine
optimization, have become increasingly popular. It is
easy to understand why web applications that relate
to the Internet would prosper, while business applications
may have less appeal in a web environment.
A desktop application is a self-contained program that
performs a defined set of tasks under the user control.
Desktop applications run from a local drive and do not
require a network or connectivity to operate or function
properly, though if attached to a network desktop applications
might use the resources of the network.
Pros and Cons to Desktop and Web Applications:
Web applications can be easily accessed from any
computer or location that has Internet access. Travelers
especially benefit from the accessibility. This often
means that if a traveler has access to a computer, phone
or handheld with Internet connectivity they can utilize
the web application.
Low Maintenance & Forced Upgrades
Desktop applications need to be individually installed
on each computer, while web applications require a single
Many web applications are hosted by a 3rd party and
the maintenance fall under the applications hosts responsibility.
The ability to update and maintain web applications
without distributing and installing software on potentially
thousands of client computers is a key reason for the
popularity of web based applications. This can be a
blessing and a curse as users of web applications on
hosted systems are at the mercy of the host, if an upgrade
does not go well, or the individual user doesn't want
or need the new features the upgrade will still go forward.
Increased Security Risks
There are always risks involved when dealing with
working online, regardless of how secure a host might
say a web application is, that fact of the matter stands
that the security risk of running an application of
the Internet is more significant than when running an
application on a standalone desktop computer. Some applications
require more security than others, playing Sudoku on
a web application would cause little concern, but dealing
with sensitive corporate formulas or accounting details
in a web environment might be determined risky.
Over the life of the software use, web applications
are typically significantly more expensive over time.
Desktop applications are purchased outright and rarely
is their a recurring fee for the software use. Some
desktop applications do have maintenance fees or fee
based upgrades associated with them, but rarely is there
a subscription fee associated with the software's ongoing
Many corporate web applications use a
different model, users typically are charged monthly
service fee to operate the software. Fees are considered
"subscription fees". If you fail to renew
your subscription you may be unable to access the data
stored in the web application.
Web applications rely on persistent and unmanaged
connectivity. If you do not have an Internet connection
or if your host does not have Internet connectivity
you cannot access the information. Critical applications
or businesses that are time sensitive cannot risk denial
of service attacks or power outages to interrupt their
operations and access data that is sensitive.
Web applications that rely on the Internet to transfer
data rather than a computer's local hard drive, may
operate slower. The speed may also vary based on number
of users accessing the application.
Backups & Ownership.
Regardless of the platform, companies need to be
sure that their data is appropriately backed up. When
using a web application that are hosted by a third party,
companies should clearly determine who owns the data
housed in the application, and be sure that privacy
policies prevent that data from being used by the web
Ultimately the accessibility of web based
applications make them very desirable. Web applications
have some fundamental limitations in their functionality,
and are better suited for specific tasks. Understanding
the pro's and con's to each business model, will help
users determine whether a desktop application or web
application will better suit their needs.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds
and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for
a wireless text messaging software company.
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