Is there a future for Desktop Software in business?

Desktop applications are software programs installed and run on Windows desktop PCs, Apple Macs and, at a more niche level, Linux desktops.

In the era of smartphone apps, cloud computing and web-based applications, desktop software may be considered obsolete. Even Microsoft describes them as “legacy” apps.

For home/consumer use, this may be judged as an accurate prediction of where software is going; but in the business world, this is far from the truth. Desktop applications still have many benefits and advantages over browser-based apps, and they are not likely to be going away any time soon.  It is more accurate to say that they are adapting and evolving to the changing needs of businesses and users; this can also be said of the “desktop” platforms the software runs on, with the advent of virtualisation and cloud-based desktop as a service, desktops are no longer tied to the desktop.

Benefits of Desktop Applications

One of the primary benefits of desktop applications is the ability to customise the software to meet better the needs of specific users, businesses, or industries. Desktop applications can be tailored to provide a personalised user experience with a more intuitive interface and advanced features. For example, desktop software can utilise the full power of the PC hardware, such as processors, memory and storage, to deliver a smoother and faster performance than a web-based application that is constrained by the browser and network speed.

Another important benefit of a desktop application is the ability to work offline.  Unlike their web-based counterparts that need an internet connection, desktop apps can work regardless of network availability. Users can continue their work without interruption or data loss even if their internet connection is down.   

Some users, concerned about privacy and security, will feel more comfortable knowing their data is stored locally on the PC where they are in control rather than on a remote server relying on someone else to keep it secure.  Some of the biggest software vendors have purposely resisted the temptation to convert their software to solely run as a web app because they know there would be backlash from customers who want to retain control of their data.   

There is, of course, a counterargument that cloud-based service providers have the budgets and the means to provide enterprise-level security hardware and systems to keep their customers’ data safe and should be better at protecting data than the individual user or company.

Desktop apps also have more access to features on the device they are installed on than web apps.  A desktop app may better access the webcam, mic, speakers, printers and scanners, and other peripherals.  More importantly, desktop apps can directly integrate with other software installed on the desktop, taking advantage of existing functionality in applications like Microsoft Office to present a better overall experience to the user.

Hosted Desktops: The Best of Both Worlds

While desktop applications have many benefits over web-based applications, they can also have drawbacks.  For example, desktop apps need installation, configuration, updates and patches on each PC that uses them.  This can be a time-consuming, and, therefore, costly exercise for businesses that have a lot of PCs. Furthermore, desktop-based applications are not easily accessible from different locations, which is a problem, especially if the applications share data with other users via a central database or documents in a file store.

However, there is a solution that overcomes these challenges and offers the best of both worlds, which is Hosted Desktops. Hosted Desktops are virtual machines running on remote servers and accessed over the internet. Maintained and supported by the hosted desktop provider, they enable users to run full desktops or individual desktop applications on various devices using “remote desktop client” software or even via a browser.

Hosted Desktops offer many benefits for businesses that use desktop applications:

  • They make installing and updating software much easier, as it is only done once on the remote desktop server rather than on individual PCs.

  • They enable mobility and flexibility for users.  Users can run the desktop applications from wherever they are and on any device, as well as being able to switch devices without losing data or settings.

  • The security of user data is improved; instead of data being held on individual PCs and Laptops, which are at risk of theft or hardware failure, data is stored on the server where it can be backed up or replicated.

  • Hosted Desktops can be easily scaled to cope with more demanding applications, more users, or a greater volume of traffic and data.

Weighing it all up

Business desktop software applications are definitely not irrelevant or obsolete in the age of web-based applications, smartphone apps, and cloud computing. On the contrary, they have many advantages and benefits over browser-based apps.   Even though web-based apps are constantly improving, they are still far from being as performant and feature-rich as desktop apps.

While Desktop apps have some challenges in terms of remote access, these challenges are easily met by the adoption of a hosted remote desktop solution.  Hosted Desktops also bring added security, performance, scalability and flexibility to desktop apps.   Therefore, businesses that use desktop applications should consider hosted desktops a viable option to modernise their software systems and improve their productivity, efficiency and flexibility.

If you are looking for a hosted desktop provider, companies such as Your Office Anywhere can help you to achieve your business goals.