Ditch the Discs and Downloads, Web-Based Software is Mainstream
I remember the bad old days of getting software on floppy discs, 3.5-inch disks, CDs, DVDs and finally, downloads. My home office closet is still stuffed with software on these old media. I’m not sure why I keep any of it, especially the floppy and 3.5-inch discs. I no longer have any computers that accept them so if I did suddenly need something off of one of them, I have no idea how I would get it.
CDs seemed pretty sexy when they were introduced, taking the place of a stack of discs with a rubber band around them. Installations became a breeze. Plus, it allowed software companies to provide richer, bigger applications. Looking back, I think it also lead to a lot of bloatware once one disc could hold over a gigabyte. I mean how much of Microsoft Office do people actually use? Unless you’re a professional Word Processor, I’m guessing about 15% of it.
CDs and DVDs are still common today, but you often have the option of simply paying online and downloading your applications. I recently did so with Windows 7, but I still paid a little extra to get the discs, just in case. Part of it may be nostalgia and part of it may be that when it comes to something as basic and critical as an operating system, you can’t be too careful.
But when it comes to software, I’ve done everything I can to kick the discs and downloads to the curb. When I want software, I want it on the Web. When I sit down to a new PC I don’t want to hunt around for installation discs or keep an external drive full of downloaded software, I want to launch a browser and start working. Google Docs for word processing and spreadsheets, Aviary for image editing, Gmail for email, there’s a Web-based solution for almost everything.
Why do I prefer Web-based? Easy:
- Availability from anywhere–work, home, phone, tablet, the awful old PC at my parents house–anywhere.
- No installation and no updates. When a Web-based software vendor makes changes, they’re just there and I can start using them.
- Plus, Saas (Software as a Service) vendors make more frequent updates and add new features faster than their download/disc counterparts.
- Continuity is seamless. If I buy a new computer all I need is a browser and I’m back up an working.
- Sharing with colleagues/friends. Most Web-based software includes collaboration tools that are easy to use and make teams more productive.
There’s more but I’ll stop there.
Needless to say, part of the reason I came to work at FleetMatics, one of those SaaS vendors mentioned above, is because in addition to being some extremely cool software, it’s entirely Web-based. Our customers have the freedom to work from anywhere and for our users who spend most of the day in the field, that’s critical.
Long live the cloud!