Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tastes Great! Less Filling!

Scoble raised an interesting discussion around thin/thick clients: The thin client guys slap me back. What happened was that Scoble had linked to an Oliver Travers article entitled The Microsoft Office I really want and made the comment

But Olivier has the thin-client disease that's all the rage lately. Here's a
hint: the thick client is coming back

That quote inspired Om Malik to blog:
[Scoble] thinks thick clients are coming back. Like Bell Bottoms,
Disco Music and Happy Days!

Ok! Well, so from my perspective, my whole development career has been focussed on what appears to be (at least in some peoples minds) 70's technologies. Don't get me wrong, I've been continuously learning, but there is only so much I can learn and do and my focus has been on Windows desktop development which means for the last 4 years I've jumped on the .Net Windows Forms bandwagon and am learning about the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) formally known as Avalon. That is also what my job requires.

But I can't get away from the nagging in the back of my mind that I may be honing my skills in the equivalent of the telegraph... Even if I'm the best darn telegraph operator out there, there may not be much work for me.

The first article I read which touched on this was from Joel Spolsky, How Microsoft Lost the API War. A great article, but what is the reality? Microsoft is betting their company on the need for Windows and given past history I feel some comfort in that fact.

Are desktop applications the thing of the past or will they continue to play a significant role in the future? At one point I felt pretty strongly that the web is going to go to the SmartClient type approach since Java and .Net both try to solve that problem. That said, some of the latest web sites that use AJAX have started to freak me out with how rich an experience they can provide.

Given that we have an always on, connected world with rich browser based applications that run on all platforms... what is the future of the rich client and in turn, what is Microsoft's future with Windows?

My bet is that there is going to be a balance between the two, privacy, ownership (over files and the application services -- I don't want to rent all of my applications!) and performance will keep the rich client alive and kicking for the next generation...


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