Bob’s predictions for 2010 were focused on the Evolution of Application Distribution; that this would be the year application distribution changed forever and sure enough many such predictions are true today.

Predictions for 2010 – the year application distribution changes forever

There have been a number of technologies surfacing in recent years for making applications available to consumers, many of which exist today but won’t become mainstream until 2010.

For most applications we use today, you download a setup and run an installation. It’s not so bad, but it definitely has its drawbacks. Installations can overwrite shared files and uninstalling software can remove files needed by other applications. Software removal routinely leaves files and registry entries behind and over time serves to clutter and slow down a computer. Eventually this decay has us starting fresh with a new installation of Windows (or if we are lucky a new computer completely). Some fairly new technologies gaining ground and moving to displace traditional software installation include web based applications as well as application virtualization.

Web applications are increasingly more robust as many of the rich user interface controls we love in locally installed software becomes better replicated via the browser. Google Chrome will be launching early in 2010 and along with the mythical Apple Tablet, web applications will be all the more compelling. Keep your data on the web, run your applications from the web. Not only can you access them from anywhere, but you need not worry about updates and applying security fixes locally. Call it a website, a web application, a cloud service – the move in this direction has been progressing for some time and it certainly feels like we are close to a world where most of what we do, we can do on the web. New hardware on the way will serve to fuel this fire.

But running applications in the browser is not the only way application distribution is changing. Application Virtualization is gaining momentum in the enterprise, and a logical next step would seem to be commercial software distribution. By providing virtual applications, vendors can control dependencies by including required middleware and users can test without impacting their computer configurations. In fact, Microsoft offered its Community Technology Preview (CTP) edition of Office 2010 as virtual application. This was a helpful approach in that users could play with the new Office 2010 without impacting whatever version of office they had installed already.

Application virtualization solutions will begin targeting software publishers directly with features like inclusion of dependencies, portability, and streaming updates. Microsoft pushed Windows Installer on the world and with Windows 7 has removed Windows Installer as a condition of its “Made for Windows” logo certification process. It seems an open mind to application distribution technologies is clear even here.

It won’t be too far after 2010 before we cringe at the thought of having to execute a “legacy” installation.

This article can still be found here in the VMblog archive.