Randall Kennedy of ZDNet recently posted on Microsoft's plans to release "Streaming" versions of its Office Applications. "Streaming Apps" are basically apps that download to the local system and then run as a Desktop app would.  These applications download features as needed so you cut download times.

Mr Kennedy is so fond of this idea that he predicts it will kill off Web based office applications.

In response to that Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu says this...

Let me make a bold prediction of my own: streaming office will fail. Note that I am not talking about MS office per se here - I am suggesting that the streaming incarnation of it will fail. Web suites, including Zoho, will succeed in carving out serious market share. Within that space, our own goal is sustainable, profitable market share, that keeps us vibrant and innovative. With our breadth and depth of applications, we are well on our way.

 

I'll go further than that.  Web Apps will eventually prevail.  The only question is when.  End of Story. 

Honestly the discussion itself is kind of ridiculous.  I mean no offense to the advocates of Streaming Apps but the technology is nothing more than a stop gap.  Faster connections and more powerful Web Platforms will render it obsolete eventually.  That's inevitable.

This whole debate boils down to one central questions and that is "Will Web Apps ever match the abilities of Desktop/Streaming Apps?"  We all know the answer to that is Yes.  Web Developers are getting very close already and that's working with Javascript.  Technologies such as Flash/Flex and Silverlight will get them even closer and those are in their infancy.  Eventually the Web is going to match the Desktop feature for feature and when that happens Streaming Apps are done.

There are still a lot of unanswerable questions in regards to this sort of thing.  When will Web technology become powerful enough to match the desktop's power?  Will we just continue to use Apps in the browser or will Approaches like Adobe AIR take over?  Will we use one-to-one sync technology like Google Gears or many-to-many technology like Microsoft Mesh?  and so on...

Those questions I can't answer but the question of Web Apps eventual dominance is a no brain-er.