The Browser is the New Desktop

May 12th, 2008 | Categories: design, launch, markets, off topic, trends, web issues

The migration from desktop to Internet continues. Nowadays I find myself using very few apps on the desktop. More and more, I am transitioning to online services as the quality and scope of services increases.

Almost every desktop service I can think of has a web equivalent. Think e-mail, chat, storage, office, productivity, etc… This shouldn’t come as any surprise though. The future of computer applications is on the web.


Accessibility is probably the greatest benefit. With a regular desktop app, I can only access it on my own computer. With a web-based app, I can access it anywhere with a browser and an Internet connection. The same goes for files. I can access my documents from anywhere. No disks or USB keys required. How many times have you e-mailed a file to yourself?

Storage is another huge benefit. Why clog up your computer’s disk space when you can clog up somebody else’s?

Why else would a user prefer a given web app over the desktop version?

  • Reliability of a professional service
  • Free (at least for a large portion)
  • No download or software installations needed

The downside of web-based applications lies mostly in perception. Issues around security, privacy, and confidentiality lie at the forefront. This is the reason it has taken so long for the office suite to move online. Even still, it has yet to make a mainstream entrance onto the Internet — users are still hesitant to use any web-based application that deals with sensitive information.

Other issues include:

  • Dependence on an Internet connection and the application provider’s server
  • Learning curve
  • Complete overhaul of current IT systems

For the most part, it’s hard to argue that the issues outweigh the advantages. I particularly like the collaboration applications that continue to populate the net. As the switch-over continues to unfold, it will be interesting to watch the sequence and speed of transitions. Who will remain on the desktop (if any)? Will web acceptance be quick and easy for all? My guess is that we will soon accept that everything can be done online. The desktop will simply function as a window to the online world.

It’s crazy to think that future computers may only come pre-loaded with a web browser… or is it?


  1. peavy Says:

    as many shops remove or outsource it the remote hosted app’s seem to fill a welcome gap.

  2. matt p Says:

    I get tonnes of work done on the ferry, if the majority of my work was web-based I’d be out of luck during those travels

  3. anon Says:

    You are forgetting the main disadvantage: As software becomes a service moving away from being a product, you will be at the mercy of the providers more and more! Apart from a few top players, I wouldn’t bet on the others… certainly not with “mission critical” stuff.

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