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Joel Spolsky has created quite a stir with his recent ravings about the demise of the desktop and how Microsoft has lost the API war.  First, I didn't even know there was an API war going on.  Second, I see the coming of .NET and the CLR as a technology that ensures Microsoft's survival rather than a prescient indicator of its eventual demise.

The biggest concern that I see with browser-based application, beyond the obvious user interface issues, is the fact that they don't work offline.  There are an enormous number of people whose daily work involve traveling and using a mobile computer to capture customer information and take orders.  At Stryker, we absolutley depend on it.  Even on the LAN, if there is a network outage, work stops.  At least with an offline capabillity, some work might still continue.  Outlook is a perfect example.  If the network goes away, you can still compose new mail and read and answer existing items in your InBox.  When the network comes back, away go your messages.

Joel also seems to ignore the entire concept of web-services and remoting.  It is now far more feasible than it's ever beend to create rich client applications that can communicate effectively and securely through the internet.  Take a look at the IssueVison reference application to see what I am talking about. 

The final nail in Joel's argument is the fact that Billy Hollis has already predicted the Death of the Browser back in October of 2001.  And if Billy Hollis says it, it must be true.  Admittedly, the browser isn't dead yet; but it is looking a little green around the gills.

Just because I can...

posted on Sunday, June 20, 2004 11:55 AM


# re: Death of the Windows API 6/21/2004 11:11 AM Alan Boucher
Absolutely correct on all counts. This is the whole reason for the existence of the MSI - mobilized software - specification. Whether it's running a winform + sca client and the offline application block, or a fully defined offline UI w/ local data abstract, the need for offline, secure data and UI is evident in most application / industries / usage models today.

The browser is not dead, it's just evolving into a wider scope/def. In the end, most internet based software was not built for the way we interact with compute platforms today i.e., the physics of how we compute has changed. Therefore, the sw environment around that has to mature as well. That's where MSI comes into play. Design your UI for online/offline seamless interactions, but design the sw platform to support desktop, laptop, tabletPC and PDA as a single context (i.e., it should not matter).

I am teaching an architecture course on this at TechEd Amsterdam..

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