Tim Bray on the future of desktop apps
For actual business apps, the kind that our servers spend most of their time running, the war for the desktop is over and the Web Browser won. I just totally don’t believe that any combination of Flash and Silverlight and JavaFX is going to win it back. AJAX is increasingly central and we need to make sure that our Web Suite and its tools support it well. But as for GUIs and the client side, let it go already.
i'll note that he singles out a set of editor tools that make sense on the desktop (code editors, number editors, image editors, and video editors). but his key point is, i think, well founded. Silverlight, AIR, JavaFX, etc. are headed down the wrong path. not only do they sidestep the Web by using proprietary coding, they *break* the Web by ignoring key constraints for distributed, scalable archetictures. IMO, the near-term future is in work that *enhances* the browser experience, not replaces it. there are more than enough examples of rich UIs built w/ existing markup/script/stylesheet technologies. experiences that look just like a desktop UI (if that's your fancy).