Interesting LinkedIn question…

Interesting question raised on LinkedIn:

What is the future? web or desktop applications

Increasingly more and more desktop applications now have a web clone. For e.g now we have a decent web messenger for yahoo instead of the desktop one. Also more and more internet email sites give the same feel as outlook with similar interface and fast speed (thanks to ajax). Google docs has come up with web apps similar to Microsoft office(Excel, word, powerpoint).

What do you feel? is the future all web? Yes/No–Why?

Clarification added 10 hours ago:

Just extending my question to those who say web, does this also mean an end to the denomination that Microsoft has over personal desktops? If its web, then people would move to Linux (as it is free) instead of windows..

I’ve answered with the following:

The answer is “both”.

There are undoubted advantages to web apps – easy of management and speed of rollout being two of the key ones. However, as others have pointed out, this doesn’t answer two key requirements of power users – disconnected access and truly rich user interaction.

For that reason, I see the model being to provide desktop clients that synchronise with web apps, provide a rich client experience (multiple windows, drag and drop, context sensitive interaction etc.) and give 90+% productivity whilst in a disconnected mode.

One of the great examples of this model is the route that IBM is taking with their Expeditor framework and Notes rich client – these provide the ability to take web and portal applications offline, to amalgamate web and local apps/data into composite applications (or ‘mashups’) as well as providing the easy admin and provisioning that webapps have traditionally offered.

Regarding the additional question, I think that all key apps of the future will need to support client choice, both in terms of platform and device type. We all work in different ways and in different contexts, and the apps of 2-3 years time will have to support this. So Win/Mac/Linux will be mandatory, plus proper support for smartphones, PDAs, micro-laptops and the like will be expected.

Thus far, I don’t see Microsoft moving far and fast enough towards this goal, so yes, the era of MS domination is over

Anyone else fancy adding their own answer?

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!