Software Technology

Web Apps vs Native Desktop Apps

When building an app for your business, you need to choose between web and desktop formats. Even though web solutions are considered to be more advanced, their desktop counterparts still retain a certain competitive edge.

“How is a web app different from a desktop application?” — this is one of the questions business owners ask a development company when ordering an app. The difference between these two formats lies much deeper than the interface. In this review, you’ll find a comprehensive comparison between both types of apps and will be able to choose the one that fits the needs of your project.

Why the Demand for Web Apps is Steadily Increasing

The popularity of web apps is continuously growing because they offer numerous benefits to their owners and users:

  • Web solutions don’t slow down your device. All the computation is carried out on cloud servers to prevent excessive workload on your software or operating system. The developers of the app from the onset bundle in with servers with the appropriate capacity and capabilities.
  • They update easily. Clients don’t need to manually modify their settings or download their freshest versions. Once you open the browser, you see the most up-to-date version of the app that doesn’t require any further actions from your side.
  • Their owners sell subscriptions that allow them to receive monthly income. This is a much more lucrative model if compared to selling desktop apps. Once a user purchases a piece of software, they can use it for several months or years, as long as it is compatible with their computer or mobile device. Even when the developer releases a newer version of the product, many customers still stick to the older one. With desktop apps, this won’t work: as soon as you stop paying, you lose access to it.
  • It’s cheaper to build a web app because the developers don’t need to adjust its code to diverse platforms. Desktop solutions require platform-specific code bases for Windows, Linux, macOS. Their web counterparts run smoothly on all types of devices, relying on the same code base. For this reason, it would be easier to hire a developer for a web rather than a desktop app: it requires fewer skills.

Because of the above-listed benefits, some believe that desktops apps will soon become obsolete and web solutions will completely replace them. However, software development experts assume it would be too early to call it a day for desktop versions because they still retain a competitive edge.

Arguments in Favor of Desktop Apps

Clients order to build desktop apps mainly for the subsequent reasons:

  • You can go offline. Unlike their web counterparts, desktops apps don’t require a constant and stable Internet connection. You can keep using them in the countryside, during flights or in other circumstances where the Wi-Fi coverage lacks at all or leaves much to be desired.
  • The app can easily use some features of the operating system. It might need registry, notifications or some other capacities that remain inaccessible for web solutions.
  • The app can resort to local resources as well. This comes in handy when you need to use the app in conjunction with Bluetooth transceivers or USB-attached gadgets.
  • Users can enjoy greater security. Unfortunately, web apps are prone to hacking attacks. If violators target a cloud storage that contains the app’s user base, they might get hold of the confidential data of thousands of people. If you install the app on your desktop, you’ll be the only person who has access to it, and you’ll lose your data only in case the device gets damaged.

So it turns out that building a native desktop media service, for instance, might be a reasonable idea. When designing your future app, try to envision your customer experience from the point of view of multi-tasking. After opening a web solution, a user can quickly switch to other pages in the browser and then return to the app. Using desktop solutions, users need to remain concentrated on them.

The Sweet Spot

In addition to the above-said, you might have heard of the hybrid web-based desktop format. It suggests that you can access your desktop from the browser of any device. All your files, apps, settings and configurations will rely on the computations carried out by a remote networking system.

Web desktop too often suffers from latencies and is just as prone to hacking attacks as regular web apps. What’s more, not all apps can be adjusted to this format for technical reasons. That’s why it won’t be fair to call it a golden middle — you’d rather opt either for web or desktop.


When building your own app, you should carefully reckon up all the pros and cons of both formats. Even though desktop apps might be not as trendy as their web counterparts, they might cater best to the needs of your particular business. The main aspect that you probably should concentrate on is the monetization model: would you distribute your app for free, sell it for a one-time fee or by monthly subscription? For subscriptions, select the web solution. Another issue that you might want to consider is the benefits of a mobile app vs desktop app — but this topic should be discussed in a separate article.