Top 5 Reasons Desktop Apps are better than Web Apps
1. Can conveniently run in the background and pop windows or notifications in a friendly manner
Have you seen web apps try to pop windows or notifications? They are not always very user friendly. Gmail chat as a web app tries this. If the browser is in the background, the window title on the task bar changes to show the name of the user that sent you a message. It is a decent attempt at a notification, but if you install a Desktop version of a instant messenger you’re generally used to a more user friendly toast pop.
2. Can offer better usability with more design and layout options
Sometimes you want a more minimalist approach with applications. Say you want an application that will keep track of your stocks for instance. You may not want to have a full browser window or tab open for that information. The Vista or Windows 7 gadgets can provide a minimal view of your stocks. The gadget can conveniently run in the background and consumes fewer resources than a web page. I’ve used a couple browser extensions for a minimalist view, but even those can consume more resources than necessary and I can’t really classify those as a web app.
3. Integrate more seamlessly with other applications and hardware devices
Have you installed Microsoft OCS? How many hooks into other applications does that desktop app have when you install? I open up Outlook and compose an email I’ll see the OCS status next to the contacts name. That integration can only happen through a desktop install. As another example, it is not likely you’ll see a DVD burner web app.
4. Can run standalone without LAN/WAN connectivity
In some environments internet access or perhaps even LAN connectivity is restricted for security purposes. Perhaps it is not restricted, but you want to offer a survivable solution in the event that the LAN/WAN is unavailable. Your primary work might be done offline and then sync’d up later when connected. It is difficult for web apps to function under those conditions.
5. Are more responsive and perform faster
Web apps inherently carry overhead that comes with a general purpose web browser. Desktop apps can be designed to only load what is needed, which can be considerably less than the memory or other resources consumed by just a base browser startup. Think about the lightest desktop app you use. Would you still use it if it required you to start IE every time or even open a new tab?
With new technology web apps are increasing providing functionality we only thought possible in a desktop application a few years ago – who would have thought we’d have a web app version of Photoshop? I’m not posting to push desktop apps over web apps. I’m just simply stating some of the differences. Keep any eye out for my next post on why web apps are better than desktop apps.
Until next time.