With all the talk of web versus desktop lately, I decided to reflect on what software I use outside of my web browser. A good way to think about this is to list all the software that you install on a fresh installation of your operating system (Windows, OSX, or Linux).
Over the past 6 months I’ve been installing new builds of Windows 7 every month or two on one of my laptops.
The set of programs I install after each wipe:
- Microsoft Office (productivity suite)
- Firefox & Opera (web browsers)
- Trillian (multi-protocol IM client)
- Twhirl (Twitter client)
- Pandora desktop client (internet radio)
- iTunes (music for personal music device)
- Adobe Reader or Foxit (PDF reader)
- 7-zip (zip/tar archive creator/extractor)
- Sling Media Player (watch home TV from across internet)
I also have a bunch of development tools:
- WinSCP (FTP/SCP client)
- Putty (SSH client)
- XAMPP (LAMP stack)
- Python (programming language)
- VMWare Workstation (virtual machine environment)
- Komodo IDE (programming environment)
- TortoiseSVN and GIT (source control integration)
- Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, etc.)
There’s probably some that I’m missing, but those are all the ones that I use most often.
I think it’s safe to say that it’s near impossible to replace my development setup within my browser, but honestly “most” of the population doesn’t do such work.
On the general software side, I could probably get by with just a browser. Twitter, IM, Pandora, Office Web/Google Apps, etc. could replace many of the programs that I listed. I’d still have some issues with zip files and watching TV through my SlingBox, but my general needs could be satisfied. Yet I currently decide to use the desktop versions of these apps, because I can run them nicely in the background, with OS notifications, and automatic startup at system boot.
I’m curious to see what other people use and how readily they could forgo everything but a browser.