What Users Want

Dave Winer writes: Even though the browser has severe limits for users, and the dominant browser is owned by Microsoft, users still want software to run in the browser.

I don’t think this is necessarily true. I’m not saying Dave’s wrong, just that he’s looking at the data from the wrong viewpoint.

I think users want real, honest-to-goodness, double-click-and-they-launch applications. I don’t think users want everything to be done in the browser. The browser is clunky. Text editing is difficult. Image editing is next to impossible, at least without the abomination we call Java. Interactivity is limited, and delayed by page refreshes. Doing any real work in a browser is annoying at best.

Now, take note that I’m talking about a certain kind of user here. I’m talking about, pretty much, my mom or my wife. Not a power user, who demands that the application be web-based so that it’s accessible everywhere. And not some neophyte who doesn’t understand the difference. I’m talking about your average, run-of-the-mill, I-use-the-computer-every-day-but-I-don’t-want-to-know-how-it-works kind of user.

But Dave’s not the first person to make this observation. It’s an opinion that’s becoming prevalent, and many people accept it as fact. So where does it come from? Easy: IT wants everything to be done in the browser. That way, there’s less to be deployed to each workstation, and each upgrade of an application doesn’t mean a visit to every single computer in the business/enterprise/district/whatever. It’s not what users want, it’s what they’ve been relegated to. And I know what I’m talking about: I’m in IT. It’s a royal pain to deploy a real, honest-to-goodness, double-click-and-they-launch application. Even with the best management software out there, it’s a drain on time and resources that can be spent on other problems.

This is a big reason why tangelo will be a desktop application instead of a web-based application. I think it’s what people really want. They just might not know it yet.

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