PCs

Poll: What is the future of desktop app development?

Do you think desktop application development will remain in high demand, will be phased out, or will go away? Share your prediction by taking this quick poll.

It seems like the only applications that most people still run locally on their desktop are Web browsers and Office suite programs, and Office is jeopardized by online versions. Meanwhile, a lot of attention is going to mobile apps, and there is a strong chance that mobile operating systems could eventually be running on devices powerful enough to replace desktop systems for typical usage.

Given all of these factors, I think it is quite possible that desktop applications will become a niche market, reserved for "workstation" style tasks like multimedia processing, number crunching, and development. What do you think?

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

29 comments
ssabc
ssabc

In his book 1984, this was government imposed. Today, common users want it to go that way. Just look at gmail and facebook for example. Not sure of this is a perfect analogy for the book "1984," (http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/) but putting data out there for the world to see has the potential to become intrusive. Sure, it will be easier for the non-computer user. People do like the idea of being able to access their data from anywhere! The question is, how much of that is necessary? Do I need to access my .NET apps and CAD drawings, or just my email?

devdr
devdr

Desktop applications will be in demand no matter people are using mobile and web application a lot but still they do most of the office, studies work, presentation etc at desktop PCs. Thus I can see desktop applications surviving for decades to come.

koalajoe
koalajoe

It seems to me that the development of web app environment is very strong providing a richer set of capabilities and user experience than only a few years ago. I expect this will probably continue to develop. Ease of deployment is a factor as is the inherent cross platform abilities. Desktop app developers may need to reduce profitability to compete until a point will be reached where is makes sense to drop broadly marketed apps in favour of high priced niches, a scenario which would then accelerate. Mobile apps will only continue to flourish in a still expanding market, they have a marketing tool in the hand of every smart phone owner. The landscape will undoubtedly change, perhaps all surviving until the next wave.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

I will be keeping a platform with enough horsepower to create content. There is a place for content consumption and web browsing, but these devices (currently) lack the power to be a do-all machine like how the PC is. And localized storage. Add in SOME cloud providers' terms of service that, for "free" use, take royalty-free copies of any content a person uploads, their size and recognition will allow them to profit long before a single user could.

l_e_cox
l_e_cox

I love my desktop and do not plan to give it up any time soon. I actually have several desktops because I have several machines. But I know that for every one of me there are probably x (I don't know how many) who use their home computers for nothing but cloud apps and printing. My dad uses his computer for hotmail, and that's all! All those people could probably survive without a real PC. If you sold them some sort of thin client that did all their old computer did they'd probably be happy and never know the difference. I don't think that's necessarily the ideal scene, but we are being actively pushed in that direction and I think the push back will be minimal.

Oddmoore
Oddmoore

So long as many of us have to depend on Satellite internet for our so called high-speed internet; or even wireless, where we have pathetic 7.5gb to 18gb bandwidth caps; web apps will remain a pointless, bandwidth suckling notion. Obviously many of the members here "get it" on a multitude of levels, so my opinions here aren???t necessarily reinventing the wheel. Web based apps (at this point) are simply to anemic by comparison to the real thing. Obviously document based web apps are pretty good since they really don???t require ???too much??? in the way of heft and or power to accomplish their task. But, any sort of video, photo, 3D rendering, music editing/composition, recording, game dev., or graphics development program with substantial horsepower is going to reside ON a desktop/workstation. That's not to say that these types of apps couldn't ever be developed to a more substantial and usable degree, but it all (in my opinion) boils down to the reliability, integrity, availability and affordability of the internet and bandwidth. I think ???apps??? in general will remain more of a niche; however, an ???in demand niche??? for a very long time. Let???s get the whole internet/bandwidth thing worked out first before we start predicting the ultimate ???Phase out??? of desktop/workstation software! Lol

Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182

Maybe it's just me, but I have a real problem with storing all my precious (to me) data on someone else's hardware. Possibly it's a mild case of paranoia, but I want full control over my data. There's also the fact that frequently I'm in an area where I can't get enough bandwidth to download email, much less try to log in to a database, and move large amounts of data back and forth. Even on a T1/T10 connection, there is a noticeable lag when using data-intensive apps with the data on the server. Anything like graphics design, 3D modeling, etc. will have to stay local. I suppose you could download the stuff (including the working app) from the cloud, work it locally, and then dump it back, but where's the advantage?

paul.watson
paul.watson

There will still be apps running on the local machine. However, they will be web apps which can be installed locally or on a remote web server. Both security and availability of a reliable internet connection will mean that money can be made allowing the app to run locally. Developers will have a single framework which can be deployed with only very small changes. HTML has somewhat become the universal UI that some sought through X-windows, TCL/TK, Java swing, Galaxy, C-Worthy, and Curses.

Slayer_
Slayer_

We have clients in AB that barely get 15D/5U kpbs "high speed" internet, and they are not in the middle of no where. Sask is another where infrastructure is poor. Manitoba is a bit better because MTS used to be publicly owned, but rural areas are still on 56k dialup. BC is pretty good. The Toronto area (except for directly in the city) is sad. We had a client on business internet, losing connectivity because people in the houses around them were watching that Soccer game final. The internet infrastructure is improving very slowly, at this rate, it will be another 20 years before the internet can handle the applications of today (who knows what Applications of 20 years will be like). And besides that, lots of business do not want their data leaving their building.

fishcad
fishcad

The only options I have for internet connection are dial-up, satellite, and a little local radio system. My local provider is the fastest, but not nearly fast enough or reliable enough to rely on for CAD work, photo editing, or music editing. I sincerely hope I will be able to get desktop apps well into the future.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Web-based and Cloud computing are taking over in the government. Trying to get money to develop anything else is near impossible. If you get past that hurdle then you have to fight the security folks for permission to put it on the network. For desktop apps the answer is "No. Resubmit in 90 days for further disapproval." The justification for this approach is cost. Their hardware refresh cycle is now 5+ years and they don't have to buy high horsepower machines when they do purchase. The average user doesn't have any desktop apps outside of MS Office. If they were to go to a web-based office app then thin clients would be all they would need. In regards to bandwidth, they just don't care because that cost is invisible for the most part.

jmorice
jmorice

My take (if you ask me) is that if you're a tech, your job is safe for many, many years to come. Bandwidth still has to catch up for all apps to go web based.

cory.schultze
cory.schultze

I think its a case of available local resources. Let's face it, a tablet (even multi-touch) is not ideal for combination commands and just isn't responsive enough to make your time with things like CAD productive. I don't think we're likely to see web-hosted apps like Microsoft Office or Adobe PhotoShop any time soon, basically because of poor broadband speeds in many countries and the speed at which browsers can run plugins to handle these apps. Not to mention the money thing. Businesses would have to make something out of it, so I'd imagine a subcription would be required. I don't know if it's just me, but I'd rather have the disc that I can use whenever I need and keep it on the shelf, locked in my home, rather than have a cloud key that I could lose and forget if my computer goes kaput.

TechRep87x
TechRep87x

There are still a lot of countries that cannot provide stable Internet connection to its people yet. Having everything on the web will make it hard for people to communicate and share files and be troublesome for businesses to run between workers who have stable Internet connections and those who don't.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

HTML5 isn't out yet and when it is, there are some huge gaps between what is possible on the web vs. locally. The bandwidth isn't quite there either. Take any hardware interface for example. Are we exposing all of our hardware to the cloud? There are many things that don't make sense on the web. I think all of the technologists are jumping the gun by a decade on this one. The only people that are moving to 100% web-apps are the most simple of consumers. Don't get me wrong the average joe represents a huge market share but they too will find the need for more capable local apps when they want to create or when they go to work.

seanferd
seanferd

And in a world where web apps are the only choice, my electronics can sit in the dustbin. Forget that. Or are we talking home users who use only email and web, or business users who use office, accounting, social, and in-house apps? Sure, I can see a lot of that going to the web-app model. But I really don't see the point. Why ship bits around the globe to run a calculator app? And I need to depend on the network and calculator-app server to be available? For all the complaints about P2P users, I think it is the web-app trends along with the streaming media business model that is clogging the tubes. Keep it in-house.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... will eventually all move to the web/mobile paradigm (or whatever succeeds it). But existing apps take a long time to die, and new desktop apps will still be created for some time. We'll still be seeing desktop apps in regular use for at least 20 years. How many DOS apps are still running?

mattohare
mattohare

I heard people saying that showboarding would replace skiing too.

Justin James
Justin James

I've felt the same way for a while too. It's pretty ironic, really. J.Ja

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

And it's interesting to note that while we're all being actively pushed, we are told of "free market" concepts as well. It doesn't quite add up... But it's just as fair to say this is evolution, and I do like my Android tablet as well. But there is a time and place for both venues. As long as there are ethics in the new ways of doing things, that's fine by me.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

As much as I like my tablet (and smartphone), one thing I've found annoying is the online version of spreadsheets. I won't say the brand name of the spreadsheet provider, but it is clunky in usage whereas Excel is more fluid (and powerful) an experience. Graphic design will still remain localized for the foreseeable future, but Adobe and other companies will try. Indeed, given the cloud paradigm, an increase of SaaS applications will also accrue. Trouble is, SaaS means the providers can sit back and collect and be less inclined TO make enhancements* in the first place. After 1~2 years' worth of leasing, it's usually cheaper just to own. Adobe Muse is subscription-only. I will not subscribe. If Adobe CS6 is subscription-only, forget it. SaaS tends to make an aaSS out of those who blindly use it. That might be tacky to say, but it's not an untruth. Any number of terms of service agreements and those who see little in what they give up speak for themselves... * and being told "this subscription method means you'll always have the latest version" won't convince by default

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Especially your last line. Companies, most of them, do understand the value of their data. Many will be lulled with the siren of "cheap storage" and every other cloud and SaaS promise. Hopefully managers and IT staff, the ones with functioning brain cells, will look over every inch of every terms of service clause. If the top management give the green light but end up betrayed, maybe they will quit the company and opt not to take a golden parachute. Or they can scapegoat everyone else into quitting. Who knows...

JamesRL
JamesRL

The people having problems must be using Roger cable service, which is fast but shared. Bell has fibre service available to most homes in Toronto for a little more, fast and dedicated. In Ontario Bell is introducing high speed wireless for some rural communities.

spdragoo
spdragoo

Maybe the average home user, who literally does nothing more than surf the Internet, check their email, & write the occasional letter in a word-processing document. But full-scale reliance on "the cloud" is a problem when the Internet connection is down. Want to create a family calendar using those digital photos you took at the last family gathering? Sorry, the calendar-creation app -- as well as your photos -- are stored on the server, & Neighborhood Communications is "experiencing an outage in your area". A college professor wants to create new tests because the university department is changing their curriculum? Sorry, a squirrel chewed on Suburban Comm's cable lines & cut the connection for your neighborhood, so you can't connect to the test-generating app. You're home after a hard day's work, & want to relax by working on some more 3D-renderings of that cool new spaceship from the Stellar Travels show? Too bad, so sad; too many people in the area are streaming the latest Full Blood show, & you can't connect to the server with the AutoCAD app & your saved data. Will that happen all the time? No, of course not. Does this mean that having locally-stored data & apps are always available? Of course not, hard drives & LAN connections will always have the occasional hiccups & outages as well. For some businesses & users, "cloud" computing offers a cheaper alternative. But as with all IT choices, there are trade-offs that have to be factored in. And until the day that they can guarantee that cloud-based computing is as cheap/safe/reliable/available when compared to localized options -- if not cheaper/safer/more reliable/more readily available -- it will never completely replace it. Otherwise, we'd have gotten rid of fax machines & copiers a long time ago.

Uglyfishhead
Uglyfishhead

But, cloud for certain applications, many of which are legacy custom because the COTS weren't/aren't there for government, is a long, long way away as budget to re-tool and move them is non-existent.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

A lot of desktops can be virtualized for greater portability. Staff reductions can occur, if everything is implemented. Still, those who push the numbers usually say to customers/users "Oh, the hardware can't do that" and aren't very technical... and then usually don't like it when somebody else finds out how to make things work in, you know, 5 minutes.

cory.schultze
cory.schultze

Besides, if everyone's bashing their bandwidth, you're all contending to upload and download your programs and commands. With technology advancing the way it is, we should expect not to see so much of the infamous "Please Wait..." notification.

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