Home Discussion: Webified Desktop Apps

Discussion: Webified Desktop Apps

Already there’s some great discussion happening regarding Ebrahim Ezzy’s post on
Read/WriteWeb entitled Webified
Desktop Apps vs Browser-based Apps
. As I noted in the intro to that post, in some ways Ebrahim’s
views contradict my own.

I’m a big fan of the concept of the browser as a ‘lowest common denominator’ platform
for the Web. And there is a lot of innovation happening in the browser space right now –
Flock, Opera, Firefox and even IE7 is doing its bit to keep up (although we’re still
waiting for some truly original knock-yer-socks-off features from IE7). So I like to
think there is plenty more innovation to come in the browser – and imho the WebOS players
are one of the more interesting set of startups using the browser as a platform. I also
like the technology being delivered by Personalized Start Pages and associated widgets
(Pageflakes, Netvibes, et al) and Web Office contenders (Zoho, Zimbra, ThinkFree, et

Having said that, I do recognize that the browser has its limitations and that Ajax
isn’t the be all and end all of interactive technology. My profile
of the upcoming NY Times Reader showed some of the possibilities of a web-enabled desktop
app (or a webified desktop app, to use Ebrahim’s term). Times Reader has rich
functionality, courtesy of Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation technology – but
it also relies on the Web to get the NY Times content and to communicate with other
people (email a story, for example).

Other discussion on Ebrahim’s post:

  • Ryan Stewart: “The best RIAs
    provide a layer of abstraction over both the web and the desktop. The Webified desktop
    application, as Ebrahim uses the term, implies installation, which is an old, antiquated
    model for software delivery.”
  • Tim Bart: “I
    personally prefer Desktop application over web-based applications, but I appreciate being
    able to access to my data from anywhere, and get it synchronised over multiple
  • Alex Iskold calls it the
    “webification” of the desktop and mentions desktop widgets as an example. He notes:
    “There is no reason why our desktop applications can not be web-aware. An improvement in
    this area would drive up our productivity, because switching back and forth between the
    application and the browser is very inefficient.”

  • BuzzSort
    is firmly in favor of webified desktop apps and dislikes webtops: “It is a great technological
    trick taking this platform we have within the web browser, one that is restricted in such
    a tight way, and make it attempt to mirror your computer desktop. It is however a step
    backwards to a thin client way of working.”
  • Emre Sokullu is
    in favor
    of browser-based apps, “except web based operating systems”. He says
    something that I always point out too: “Connectivitity should not be seen as a drawback
    because the world is getting more and more connected everyday.”
  • Eric also
    web apps: “Web applications have a number of advantages not easily duplicated
    by desktop applications; sharing, collaboration, platform agnosticism, stability, low
    risk of data loss, accessibility.”
  • John Milan does the numbers on desktop vs browser apps for email.

There are other
great comments to Ebrahim’s post
and I encourage you to leave your comment there too.
Perhaps the biggest point to make is that it’s not either/or, despite the headline I
wrote for the previous post! There is a place for both webified desktop apps and
browser-based apps. Indeed the browser is basically just a desktop app at its most

The biggest advantage the browser still has though is its ubiquity on computers
– and we’ll continue to need common Web platforms, that utilize web standards, for quite
some time yet.

UPDATE: We’ve published a poll, for you to tell us which type of app you prefer – desktop or browser-based.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.