Various bloggers have already been debating for some time about whether AJAX/DHTML/Web 2.0 (whatever u want to call it) or Smart Client/Windows Forms/Thick Client/ is the way of the future. Well, I'm not debating it. I'm declaring DHTML the winner.
Maybe you're wondering why I think DHTML will conquer the smart client. Some might say it already has. Just look at how many applications are already using DHTML effects to drive rich web-based user interfaces.
Am I just hopping on the DHTML bandwagon? Not really. I've reserved my opinion on this issue for a while. I've been standing on the sidelines watching both sides gain and lose momentum in the debate. Will Windows Vista be awesome? Yeah, for sure. But how much is Vista really going to change the way you use the internet? Transparent aero-glass and Flip 3D is only going to mean so much to users - and is really only part of the "wow" factor to me, not a reason to keep using it. To be honest, I spend much more time keeping an eye out for new Firefox extensions than I do for Windows apps. Am I the only one?
Another big reason DHTML wins - it feeds into our ever-increasing sense of instant gratification. I click a link to access a web app. Done. Not download a setup.exe|.msi|.zip|.wtf. Then run the setup. Then reboot. Then find a shortcut. Get the picture? Oh, and how's that ClickOnce thing coming, Microsoft? (Yes, to be fair, there is a workaround, but still...)
Deployment, anyone?. Ok, how many people (I mean people, not just developers) are forever scorned and jaded by DLL-Hell? I'm not sure Microsoft truly understands how much damage COM and the registry has inflicted (and still inflicts) upon their customers. The pain from DLL-Hell isn't going away anytime soon. In the meantime, DHTML is over in the corner chuckling at COM and it's siamese twin, the registry.
I keep hearing the argument from the smart/thick client side that it can work in "offline" mode. I'm being 100% honest when I say that has never been an issue for me with a web application, ever. What is there to argue beyond that? Faster response times? I'm not seeing the smart client advantages very easily.
So anyway, there you have it. Declared by me - a name and face in the crowd that really doesn't matter - that DHTML wins.