Why are businesses still using desktop applications when hosted applications are more flexible and economical?
Not only can employees working from anywhere in the world log in via the internet to run the application but the management of the application and the server is outsourced. Hosted software is platform independent, allowing people to use the software whether they run on Mac or Windows, and you don't have to install updates, that's done for you.
Small and medium businesses can benefit from using an enterprise level application at a fraction of the cost with many software companies offering a 'pay-as-you-go' model where software can be purchased on a per user/per month basis: this vastly reduces the initial outlay and makes applications accessible to companies with a small number of employees.
There is also a vast reduction in cost for large corporations purchasing hosted software, as well as less IT hassle - by outsourcing the server management.
Historically, web-based applications haven't had the breadth of functionality that desktop applications have, but that has now changed with tools such as Ajax.
The other historical problem is that in order for an online application to be fast you need bandwidth.
With broadband coverage approaching 100% and high speed connections of up to 40 megabytes being offered in the UK, there really isn't anything that desktop applications can do better than web-based ones.
Microsoft, SAS and Oracle's stranglehold on application licences is being loosened daily by the like of Google and Apple.
Hosted solutions provide significant benefits and if companies are not being offered at least the choice of a 'pay-as-you-go' service, don't buy it!