Do We Even Need Desktop Software Anymore?

Desktop software still offers more power to the user than mobile apps.It wasn’t very long ago that the tablet computer was a pipe dream that Microsoft couldn’t quite get off of the ground. Then the iPhone came along and changed everything. Now everyone has a consumption device that will fit in their pocket. It’s business on the go all the time for us all.

This, of course, prompts major tech blogs to occasionally publish articles that declare the desktop dead. They typically do this as they write the article on a desktop, distribute the article on a desktop and publish the website on a, you guessed it, desktop. Like a relentless zombie hoard, desktops continue to march on carrying the computing world on their backs in spite of themselves.

Another thing many people seem to forget when discussing the desktop is that today’s laptop – or even the laptop of a few years ago – is, in essence, a desktop. Laptops have much better processors, more RAM and more storage. Most businesses that favor laptops make sure their specs are good enough to run office software such as…Office, the Microsoft business suite that many depend upon to run their businesses. (What would we do without those PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets, though beware on how you use these.) Sure, there are plenty of Office “lites” out there, even some by Microsoft, but they don’t have all the power of the original desktop applications. They can be great for viewing or editing a project created on the desktop, but don’t have all the bells and whistles.

Advantage: Desktop

Ever try to edit a photo or video on a phone or a tablet? Can you do it? Of course you can. Do you want to do it on a regular basis? No way. Video and photo editing are very difficult to do on tablets and phones for several reasons unless you have the latest iPad or Surface – which are designed with specs to run “desktop” software.

Tablets, phablets and smartphones lack the memory required to get the job done right. It just isn’t practical for a mobile device to handle these applications, not to mention how much smoother the user experience is on a desktop.

Plenty of image apps exist, but for a professional there’s Adobe Photoshop, which demands more out of your OS and hardware than even some video processing and AutoCAD programs. But even when you need to edit photos just for websites, Photoshop has a lot of advantages.

Of course software developers need the ability to virtualize other systems or even networks on their computer. This works best as desktop software.

And if you want to use the Oculus Rift, you have no real choice but to use a high-powered computer to run its desktop software

These are just a few instances where a desktop has an advantage over mobile platforms. Some things just don’t properly translate to a web interface or SaaS. Desktops are simply more responsive and can get the job done faster and better.

Do you tend to have a dozen web pages open, several applications and all of it streamed to several displays? That normally takes the processing power of a desktop. It’s not just that you have a single application needing a lot of power – multitasking required to do our jobs pushes many mobile devices past their limits.

Desktop Privacy

How comfortable are you having pictures of your spouse or your children on someone else’s server? What about your tax returns or your mortgage documentation? The problem with tablets and smartphones is that they rely heavily on cloud computing. That equates to you trusting someone else with your confidential information.

For anyone with privacy issues, desktops are just more secure. The data is physically in your hands, under your control and can only be given to people you authorize it to be given to. While cloud security has gotten better, it simply isn’t there for the more security-minded among us.

Though with the prevalence of Microsoft’s One Drive, Google Drive and other cloud-based storage used by even businesses using desktops, this admittedly puts them in the same situation.

24/7 Availability

Web applications are a great tool until a storm knocks out your access to the server that is hosting the application. You can have battery backup for your home or office computer, but not for the Internet connection itself. There is simply no way to provide applications over the web and ensure that they are going to be up at all times, no matter what.

Desktops don’t have that issue. On a plane with no connectivity? No problem: work offline until you can upload your latest results. No power because of a storm? No problem: just work off battery power until the power company gets their act together.

As Google and others continue to offer apps that work offline – even for Chromebooks with little to no storage outside of the cloud, this advantage lessens. But most of those apps don’t have the power of desktop software.

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