How to Choose Between Desktop Software and Online Software

Nikita Agarwal

Nikita Agarwal

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: July 9, 2021

Update 6/28/2021This post has been updated with additional information about online and desktop software.

The modern world is one that emerged with all the technological developments that we see today. One of the various aspects that acted as a catalyst to propel a change was digitization and software up-gradation.

The coming of the modern age made humans more reliant on software, with humans resorting to them to solve their problems. However, the software is not just one type; instead, it is a huge umbrella under which its various types reside and perform different functionalities.

In this article, we will discuss the two most popular versions: desktop software and online software. Users are often confused between the two and how they can benefit from it.

Needless to say, both versions have their own set of uniqueness in terms of functionalities. Let’s talk about them in detail to help you make the best choice between desktop and online software.

What Is Desktop Software?

Desktop software refers to any third-party computer software with a license for usage on desktop, laptop, or PC class computers. Besides, it can relate with local area network servers other than via a written agreement executed by the license.

Desktop software includes the following:

  • Software is given a license by shrinkwrap or click-wrap licenses.
  • An operating system software of Microsoft office class.
  • Microsoft office or some software with similar productivity.

Section 2.16 of the disclosure schedule consists of an accurate and complete list of all the elements of licensed software.

Licensed software points out to all those computer software necessary for operating a business under present circumstances and has a license against its name for usage.

Software developers help people install desktop applications on personal or work computers, and such desktop applications require separate installations for separate devices.

Desktop software is of six different types:

  • System software: They establish coordination between the hardware and provide another software platform to execute on. It is the oldest software in computer functioning and plays an essential role in its smooth operation.
  • Application software: They enable the users to perform tasks of their individual choices.
  • Programming software: It refers to the studio framework that facilitates writing, testing, troubleshooting, and developing software programs and applications.
  • Freeware: Users can download and install this particular desktop software for free and without any charges.
  • Shareware software: This particular software is for facilitating free trials without any major functionalities. People get an idea about the parent software after using this intermediary one.
  • Browsers: These are desktop applications to access the websites and their contents.

Benefits of Desktop Software

Desktop software has a few set of benefits that lures people into using it.

1. Facilitates Higher Visibility

Whenever the user opens his desktop, he gets to immediately look at the desktop application through which he can access his desired software. Besides, it keeps the visitors engaged and helps in retaining them.

2. Gives Offline Access

Users do not require an active internet connection to access the various desktop applications. However, there can be exceptions.

3. Works on All Operating Systems

The desktop applications can run irrespective of what operating system the user uses. However, there are a few applications that require high-performance software to run smoothly.

4. No Fees

Unlike online software, desktop software does not need any subscription fee to run. It is available for free or have to pay one-time for the license. 

5. High Performance

Desktop applications boast a higher speed and smoother performance. It does not have any restrictions that will stop it from functioning.


What Is Online Software?

Online software requires a web to function and relies on constant internet connectivity. The two major pillars on which it functions are:

  • Web browser: A website browser like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Firefox to access the websites.
  • Internet connection: All online websites like Gmail, ticket booking sites, or others require an active internet connection for smooth accessibility. Without an internet connection, the user will not be able to access it.

There are a few major types of online software:

  • Email client software: Numerous businesses try to connect with their prospective customers by sending them emails about their brand and products. It might be an old method, but it is effective nonetheless.
  • Accounting software: Such online software helps businesses maintain their financial accounts and take care of their budget.
  • Internet Explorer: One of the important mediums that help you search for the things you want.
  • Google Chrome: Google chrome happens to be a software launched by Google to facilitate running various online functions via it, searching being the major one.
  • Utility software: Utility software is a part of the system software that helps you perform specific tasks on a desktop that requires an internet connection.

Now that you know what online software is and some of its types, let us proceed towards discussing its benefits.

Benefits of Online Software 

Online software has the following set of benefits.

1. Affordability

Online software is relatively cheaper than desktop software as it requires no spending on hardware. Users have the opportunity to pay as long as they are willing to use the software. Adobe’s creative cloud is a shining example of a costly online software that became affordable by providing a format based on the web.

2. Less Time-consuming

As against desktop applications, online software does not require any installation. The user can directly access online software with the help of an internet connection, which saves a lot of time and energy.

3. Keeps Running in the Background

When you close a desktop application, it closes immediately, and its function gets over. In online software, even if you close it, the software keeps running in the background. It continues with all its functions and makes your work life a lot smoother and effective.

4. Easy Accessibility

The user can access the online software from anywhere and everywhere. Even if you do not have a desktop or a laptop by your side, you can access it via any other electronic device that allows an internet connection. Therefore, the only thing you need to access the online software is an active internet connection.

5. Upgrade for Free

Users can upgrade and update their online software without any extra costs. Whenever the parent company adds new features to the existing online software to increase its effectiveness, you do not need to buy the latest version. You just need to upgrade it with the help of an internet connection and start using the upgraded version smoothly.

6. Better Customer Service

Most online software companies work hard to get a hold of a user. Therefore, it does everything in its power to retain the user. Such online companies are easily accessible to find the solution to any existing problem.

Now that you know in detail about the desktop software and online software, along with their respective benefits, you can easily decide which one is better for you.

Which Is Better Online Or Desktop Software?

Just a decade ago, software choices were much easier to make. If you needed software to support activities like Accounting, HR, etc., for your organization, installation-based (on-premises) software like Tally was the ubiquitous choice. However, with the internet becoming economical, software choices are now much difficult to make.


Over the last few years, web-based tools have matured into reliable ways to create, manage, and collaborate business activities — all on the web.

But the latest trend in the software market is cloud computing aka online software.

Let’s call Shreya and Ankit, the most well-informed personalities in the IT world, for the debate.

desktop vs saas / online software

desktop vs online software comparison

desktop vs online software

There’s no doubt that online software serves some very interesting purposes. Even though small- and- medium-enterprises are moving towards online software, desktop software will still be relevant for larger organizations.

You will also find hybrid solutions — where you can use a combination of both, creating a sense of each type of application according to its use in your organization.

Wrap Up

So whenever you see a fork in the road while selecting software, do make sure you choose the way that best suits your organization’s resources and future plans. Also, make sure that there is a resonance among the management about the software platform choice.

Nikita Agarwal
Nikita is a SaaS copywriter and content marketing expert with almost five years of experience. She creates engaging and high-quality content for businesses that want to see their Google search rankings surge. When she is not writing, she is busy following the search industry news to stay updated on all SEO tactics.

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