Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 30th May 2008 13:41 UTC
Features, Office eWeek's Debra Donston has penned down five ways the end user desktop in enterprises will look different in five years. While some of her ideas and predictions make a low of sense, there are a few things which are slightly debatable. Mostly, the reliance on virtualisation and web applications.
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They're probably right on those points ...
by MacTO on Fri 30th May 2008 15:32 UTC
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I hope that summary is correct, since I gave up reading before hitting the second page. (Two full page advertisments and I only read a couple of paragraphs. WTF!)

I don't think that many people are going to be running Photoshop as a web application anytime soon, but I would be surprised if a majority of corporate offices even have Photoshop, nevermind regularly use it. That stuff would either be in a different part of the business, or contracted out. But the questions you have to ask yourself are: what are the benefits of web applications and which types of applications is it viable to use?

I would imagine that most databases would be viable to transition to a web application model. Web front ends for database queries have been the norm for well over a decade. It is finally getting to the point where you can build a decent interface to manage databases too. The chief benefit is that the software is centrally managed to an upgrade or plain old patches are easier to roll out.

What about word processing. A few years ago, we were dealing with crude text entry fields or heavy Java based applications. We no longer live in that world and certain types of word processing can be managed right from your web browser. You achieve the same roll-out benefits as above, but you also get something more important: more flexibility in license management. Not only do you have central license management, but you can reduce the number of licenses that you need to purchase. A lot of businesses need a word processor at every desktop, but they don't need to run these word processors concurrently. If you only need 50 concurrent licenses for 250 users, you could be saving a lot of cash.

There are two fallacies people make when discussing web applications. One is assuming that it will run on the publishers servers. While this is probably going to be offered as an option to smaller businesses, chances are larger businesses are going to have the option to run their own servers. A lot of them would need that option because of privacy laws, or simply to deal with laws that vary between jurisdictions. Besides, this sort of dependency already exists between businesses. Companies like IBM make a lot of money off of it.

The second fallacy is assuming that everything is going to become a web application overnight. That's idiotic. It's going to take time, just like it took time to get where we are today. You probably don't think of OS News as a web application, but it is. In the olden days, you would have needed special software to read usenet (or fidonet) news. Email is another popular web application. If you told me that most people are going to end up using webmail even 5 or 6 years ago, I would have laughed my head off. The prime examples were slow and limited. Give it another 5 years, and noone is going to think of webmail as a web app because people will think that email was always that way. News databases and encyclopedias and dictionaries are another example. It used to be that you had to buy that stuff as applications that shipped on CD-ROM. Now we just go online. Ditto for web publishing (what do you think CMSes are for). Eventually almost everything will be a web application. It will be cheaper and more convenient for everyone involved.

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