Over the last couple of years, the onslaught of web 2.0 apps has almost made the desktop irrelevant. With a service offering for almost every kind of application that a normal user would use, the age of installing applications is near its fag-end.
Is this good? Is this the direction we want to head towards? More importantly, does it make real sense for end-users? Ok let’s see what you pay for a normal laptop these days.
If you get the above mentioned laptop, you pay around $1000 for the OS (Vista), a bunch of useless programs that you will never use, 1 GB of RAM and tons of HDD space. Now, let’s see what are the other costs of using online apps. (assuming that you use only open-source/free applications like I do, that would be the cost of using desktop apps)
- Pay for broadband services
- Cost of working online.
Over time, you see that you end up losing quite a bit of time, not to mention energy, waiting for web-apps to load up and for you to get your work done. Well, one thing is easy with web-apps and that is collaboration. You want to share your documents with a couple of friends, or maybe be your class, then it usually takes just a click, and you can share it with the world if you please and get it indexed on a search engine in a shorter time. That has been the key advantage, more than the claimed, ease of use, simplicity and the lack of install. Another thing that is very attractive is versioning capabilities that most tools have today.
Check out this article on how much RIA matters to the common man
Also, check out this comparison of Webified-Desktop Apps Vs Browser-based Apps
Personally, as an end-user, I could care less if I am oblivious to the context of an application, whether online or offline. I need to be able to
- Get access to my data, whether I am online or not.
- Open and work with my data instantaneously (ofcourse, this is currently not available with either online or desktop apps)
- Share the content that I have created with my colleagues
- Keep a log of changes that will make it easier for me to get my content back in case I screw up
When all of that happens, whether on the desktop or from within a browser, I would be one content user, and computers would have done what they were supposed to do in the first place. DO MY WORK FOR ME, so that I can GO BE CREATIVE!