* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

can't build something of value on the desktop?

I am not that old really (early 30s), but I simply don't get that *everything* is moving to the web.

I don't mind backing up my data, installing applications, and running them locally on my own PC. In fact, I enjoy having them sit locally on my PC. I haven't had any virus or adware problems as far back as I can remember (I used to have virus problems back when I used DOS). Sure, I do enjoy some of the benefits of "collective intelligence" and various web applications that are around, but I am not ready to give up owning a thing or two, especially my data!

What keeps me awake at night is the idea that if I target people like myself, there is gonna be just the 5 of us and that won't be enough to keep a business afloat. I am a bit afraid of creating a commercial desktop application, not because I don't think they work or add value, but because people in general do not seem to perceive them as valuable any more.

But, I don't have enough hard data to prove or disprove this...

Are people really turned off that much by desktop applications? Are they jumping ship because they are simply frustrated by the way the companies who write desktop applications treat them? (The webbies seemingly have better personalities possibly because they have far fewer employees). Are PCs really headed for being no more than a dummy terminal?

What is a uISV wanna-be to do who wants to develop desktop applications for a living?
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Trust me - it's no problem* to create and sell desktop apps in this web-crazy world.

*well, truthfully it's a lot of work.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
>>but because people in general do not seem to perceive them as valuable any more.

Where do you get this from? Maybe 'people in general' if you're only including YCombinator startups or techcrunch staff. Take a step back from what's currently being hyped and look around, and I daresay you'll find desktop apps alive and well and making money for a whole lot of people.

There's more (many more) people making money from desktop apps than from web apps. There's my unsupported opinion. :)
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
This shouldn't be the thing that keeps you up at night.

There are applications that are suited to the web, and others that are best kept on the desktop; and others that should be a combination of both (fit clients).

To me, the choices are relatively simple:

- Choose the language and development tools that you have experience with;
- Choose web-app over desktop if that suits the product you are developing, otherwise don't;
- Choose a subscription/one-off pricing model based on what suits your target niche.

In our niche, most applications are desktop; our closest competitor is part desktop/part online and we are all online. Most charge a monthly subscription (some per installation, some per user), but some charge a one-off fee.

None of these are related in any way - you don't have to go subscription if you are a web-app, nor do you have to charge a one-off fee for desktop apps.

Our next product (currently in development) actually takes desktop .NET apps and makes them available in the web browser (via Flash). So, when that's available, you won't even have to worry about that either (we are considering Java too).

The value you build into your app is a million times more important than how it is deployed.
Cyclops Send private email
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Flamebait:  Or, you could use something like Flex to do both desktop and web app from one code base.

Anyone actually done this?  If so, how'd it work for you?  Inquiring minds want to know....
BillAtHRST Send private email
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
You probably need to consider the app itself.  Is there a lot of data sharing?  Does it need a central server?  The answer is sometimes yes, which means you have to implement essentially half of a web app (the server piece) anyway.  If you want it to work through firewalls/the Internet you've just narrowed it down further to HTTP/HTTPS.  Doing a web app in this case is just natural, but still not required.

But, if any of the above doesn't hold, desktop apps rule the day I think.

+tc7 too -- tons of web apps out there, but not that many that are profitable.

I think the biggest issue IT departments have with desktop apps is deployment and maintaining (to 500 desktops for example).  Web apps get updates for free.  That's why so many people love them.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
You can also use mootools and run it as a desktop / web app if you know what you are doing.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Do we really have to do this whole topic again? How about using the search feature and looking for phrases like "desktop is dead". You really don't have to look very hard to find countless posts about people doubting the desktop.

Do you think that we will ever get to go a whole week without someone bringing this topic up yet again?

Sorry, I'm a bit cranky today. This forum is getting to be a real drag. It used to be that we talked about real software issues and didn't just continue rehashing the top 10 slashdot topics of the year.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Feel free to ignore the threads that don't meet your standards.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
my employer is consider canceling all the salesforce account because it became too expensive. $1800 per user per year is what i've been told. if you use it for more than a year with 10+ users. you might as well just buy traditional client-server application such as MS CRM or whatever but the appeal of SaaS/Web app is you don't have to manage anything. At least that's what my employer is looking for. If it's not our core than we should hand it off so we don't have to deal with support headache or i think that's why they use salesforce at the first place.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
"Feel free to ignore the threads that don't meet your standards. "

No, I choose not to do that. Why? Because if you continue to just ignore the trash it begins to pile up on you. Many a good forum has been destroyed because people took the attitude that they should just ignore the trash posts.

Sorry if I've hurt your feelings. Maybe you are just new here. Or maybe you just don't pay attention. If it is the former then you will be surprised at how many times this topic wastes this forum's bandwidth. And if it is the latter then shame on you.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
the thing to remember is that web apps are driven by the software vendors not the customers.

vendors want:
1. to prevent priacy
2. simplicity of deployment
3. control over who uses their software
4. few code-bases
5. an easy way to charge recurring fees
6. maybe cross platform from a single code base

customers want:
software that works, does what they need efficiently, and at an affordable price. sometimes they care about platform

web apps meet all of the vendors goals. the customers goals can be met by either web apps or desktop apps. so, yeah, you won't have problems selling a desktop app.

Don Dickinson Send private email
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
+1 Cyclops: People are far more biased towards usefulness and cost effectiveness than they are to specific delivery methods.

  In the Microsoft namespace, there are a number of ISVs developing with Silverlight (for the web) as a lighter form of WPF. This simplifies the development process because Silverlight is similar to WPF, both are .Net languages, and both use the familiar desktop event-driven interaction model rather than postbacks. (Some technology decisions are driven by getting the most development bang for your buck).
  There's a relatively recent model called Software plus Services (S+S) that was developed in part to combine the advantages of both web/SAAS and desktop models, while losing the disadvantages of both.  This may help relieve biases by particular audiences (like IT groups toward SAAS because it allows them to control user configurations on desktop software without resorting to virualization).
Stephen Lowe Send private email
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Silverlight may be the cat's whiskers, but I've been burned so many times by MS pulling the rug out from under me, I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. 

Flex makes me nervous, but so much of it is open source -- actual Flex compiler+libs (not FlexBuilder), AMF spec and BlazeDS -- that I've started to use it. 

Just wondering what others' experiences might be...
BillAtHRST Send private email
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
"Are people really turned off that much by desktop applications?"

Some of us are turned off by web applications ...
Craig Welch Send private email
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Yeah, I don't think you need to worry too much about the desktop. It is doing just fine. You need to solve a problem and provide value. Whether it is web or desktop, people will pay for solutions.
jon Send private email
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
This stuff goes in cycles.

Originally you had a computer in a room.  When you ran a batch job it was ALL YOURS for that period of time.

Then came timeshare systems and central file systems.  Think mainframes and minis.  Everything was CENTRALIZED.

Then came the microcomputer and workstations and once again the computer and resources were ALL YOURS.

Along comes the web and now apps and services are once again CENTRALIZED.

What do you think the next cycle will be?  Ownership of your app and data once again!  Sure systems will be interconnected and communicating more than ever, but ownership will sooner or later swing back to the end point.

History will repeat itself.  The kids today just don't know yet how unkewl they are creating centralized software for The Man ;-)
Thursday, June 05, 2008
The desktop is not going away.  In fact I agree it will make a comeback after the web hype works its way out of the media.  There is room for both.

Choose your tools according to the problem at hand not out of fashion.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Businesses buy software.

Businesses prefer desktop apps.

People who write web apps (generally) make no money.

People who write desktop biz orientated app (generally) make money.

Hope that helps.
Grown fat with decadence Send private email
Thursday, June 05, 2008
"people in general do not seem to perceive them as valuable any more."

The employers I worked for during the last ten years don't see it that way. I've been working on quite expensive desktop app projects. Surely they must get some value from them.
Daniel_DL Send private email
Thursday, June 05, 2008
For youngsters and for all those "just-passing-by" people, web 2.0 apps are just fine.

But when we get to important business-critical software, web-based apps also seem fine, until something breaks on the service. Then you wished you have chosen a desktop-based app instead, that can be *under your control*, and not under a third-party...

People will learn.

There are lots of fine uses for web apps, but I guess it's more limited than hyped people think...
Rui Curado (Image.InfoCards) Send private email
Thursday, June 05, 2008
> What is a uISV wanna-be to do who wants to develop desktop applications for a living?

FWIW my plan is:

* Develop a desktop app (can be run stand-alone, disconnected)
* Architect its layering so that the data storage can be local (stand-alone) or remoted (e.g. via a web service)
* Design its data layer so that it supports concurrent multi-users
* Put as much of the data processing as possible immediately above the data layer, so that it can run the remote server machine instead of on the local machine
* Design the UI with an eye to, "what would I do if I wanted to reimplement this as a web UI in a browser?"
Christopher Wells Send private email
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Excellent points. Thanks for replying!
Thursday, June 05, 2008
FWIW - We are moving from SugarCRM to a "desktop" app in a rush.  Users (Sales) got tired of page refreshes (we had our app hosted), slower response for simple things such as "Making a quick note about what you talked about with your prospect", poor MS office integration (it still rules), offline support, I could go on.

Anyways, it is back to evaluating desktop apps.
the Other Vince
Saturday, June 07, 2008

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz