Windows Applications Design and Development

Desktop computers vs the mobile trend

The worldwide trend is a move from desktop computers to mobile devices.  The  tipping point was reached in 2014, when the number of mobile device users became more than the number of desktop computer users.  Windows is still the most used operating system on desktop computers (88.7 % of the worldwide desktop computer market).  For mobile devices in South Africa, however, Android is king, followed by iOS (read more here).  For Vodacom‘s South African customers, Android had 57 % market share in the smart phone market and 82 % in the tablet market.  iPhone (iOS) had 8 % in the smartphone market and only iPad (also iOS) only 18 % in the tablet market.  Windows had 5 % market share in smart phones and virtually no share in the tablets market (for Vodacom customers only).

When is a Windows application a good solution?

So, one could ask the question – if the world is moving in the direction of mobile devices and Windows isn’t a major player in this market (not yet, at least) why should a business invest in a Windows application for its operations?

It’s a valid question.  One needs to carefully look at who will be using the system for what, where and when. One also has to keep in mind that over 2 billion PCs have been sold since 2009 and at the end of 2015, Windows 10 powered 164 million PCs. Although there is a trend towards favoring mobile devices over desktop computers for new purchases, one has to keep in mind that there are an enormous amount of specialized software applications which have been developed for Windows PCs only, over a long period of time.  One also has to be mindful of what people are using mobile devices for.  According to a survey by Dell (done among medium sized companies in South Africa with more than 250 employees each), employees are primarily using their mobile devices for emails (91 %) and internet browsing (88%), while office suites being used the least (at 38%).  Many specialized software applications still exist for Windows only.  Time will tell whether there is a strong enough market demand for suppliers to go through the costly exercise to make all these specialized software applications available for Android and/or iOS as well.  It will be interesting to see, especially with the availability of tablets running full versions of Windows 10, as well as 2-in-1 PCs running full versions of Windows 10 (hybrid tablets which can be used as a laptop as well as a tablet).  For employees who use software applications which aren’t processing intensive, using Android tablets which may be cheaper than desktop PCs, probably makes business sense.  For processor intensive applications however, high end tablets or 2-in-1 PCs will be required as an alternative to laptops and desktop PCs.  Since these probably won’t present a cost saving over Windows laptops and PC hardware, will businesses really move away from Windows, for an alternative at a higher cost than their current solution?  The eventual outcome is a topic of much debate and the outcome isn’t certain.  What is reasonably certain, however, is that Windows is not going to become redundant anytime soon and the most likely scenario is a situation where most businesses who currently only have Windows as an option for running certain software applications, will probably have more options to choose from in the future.

If a business wants to hedge itself completely from the uncertainty risk of the mobile operating system battle, one option is to rather develop a mobile friendly advanced website, or create (or subscribe to) a web based cloud system.  Since these are used in web browsers that will run on all of the operating systems available, it doesn’t matter what hardware or operating system the business decides to use in the future.  It also means a business could use a mix of various hardware devices and operating systems.  By developing a cross platform mobile application (we can even develop cross platform applications which includes Windows as an option) one can also hedge one’s business against this risk, since the mobile app can be made available for many (or all) of the operating system options available.

It is important to note, however, that there are situations when a Windows application is more desirable.  Creating Windows applications are usually less time consuming (and thus less expensive) than creating advanced websites or cloud systems, simply because there is less risk and complexity:  Advanced websites and cloud applications need to be protected against the possible attack from any of billions of anonymous users who have access to it via the internet.  For Windows applications running on a PC protected by a firewall, less security measures need to be implemented.  Since Windows PCs don’t have to run on multiple web browsers, creating and testing the user interface is usually less time consuming.  Since drag and drop functionality can be used in Microsoft Visual Studio to design the user interface, implementing complex user interfaces are usually faster.  So, in instances where a business system is only going to be used by users on Windows devices who are employees of the business, or users closely related to the business, a Windows application is usually the most cost effective solution.

Don’t worry, we’ll help you make the right choice

I hoped I’ve illustrated that it isn’t as straight forward as it may seem at first glance to choose the right long term technology solution for a specific business.  The good news is that you don’t have to worry about the complexities involved, that is what we are there for.  We will guide you through the process to implement the right long term solution for your business – contact us for a free consultation meeting, so we can partner with you in the planning process.