‍Can You Afford to Rewrite Your Windows Application?

Last Updated:
May 15, 2024

Can You Afford to Rewrite Your Windows Application?

Are you a Windows ISV suffering from web-native SaaS envy? Are you considering a rewrite of your existing Windows® application(s) so you can join the cool kids that are delivering “modern” applications? Do you think that your customers would prefer using a web-native application?

Not so fast!

If you’ve been thinking about rewriting your Windows application, there is another option.

First, if your app is, say, 25 years old, a rewrite means that you’ll be turning your back on 25 years’ worth of code and bug fixes and hundreds of features, honed and improved based on input from your customers and buyers, with dozens of dependencies (probably more, but let’s be conservative), a proven workflow, and loyal customers.

If that doesn’t faze you, here are 12 more reasons to retain your Windows application.

Windows Application Rewrite Challenges

Personnel: you’ll probably need to hire a new development team, contract with a consulting firm, or retrain your current staff to build a web-native app—while supporting and enhancing your current Windows app. Why? Most Windows application developers don’t have expertise or extensive experience in the programming languages and UX design approaches required for building web apps.

Resources: Rewriting a Windows application as a web app requires a significant investment of time, money, and skilled resources. Budget constraints and resource availability can be challenges, and time to market with a new app can be as long as ten years for complex, feature-rich Windows applications.

Functionality Parity: Ensuring that the new web-native application has the same functionality as an established Windows application is just about impossible. You’ll need to re-implement features that are specific to Windows and find equivalent web-based solutions that may not exist. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to recreate crucial well-loved features that meet existing customer expectations.

UI/UX Adaption: Adapting the user interface and user experience from a desktop environment to a web environment can be tricky. You'll need to consider responsive design, navigation, and user interaction differences.

Performance: Web apps are subject to network latency, browser limitations, and varying device capabilities. Customers accustomed to a native Windows app’s performance will find that web apps don’t perform as well, especially those users working remotely.

Browser Compatibility: Ensuring cross-browser compatibility is fiddly and awkward because each web browser has its own quirks and standards compliance issues.

Data Migration: Migrating data from the Windows application to the web-native app while maintaining data integrity and consistency is incredibly complex. You’ll probably need to convert data formats, putting your data at risk of loss or corruption.

Security: Web applications are exposed to various security threats, such as cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), SQL injection, unvalidated redirects and forwards, etc. Additionally, you will need to integrate your web app with your identity provider or implement OAuth, SAML, or other authentication protocols to enable Single Sign-on and multifactor authentication.

Legacy Dependencies: If your Windows application relies on legacy technologies or dependencies that are not easily ported to the web, you will need to find an alternative solution or invest in custom development, adding more costs and inflating time-to-market.

Integration with External Systems/Hardware: If your Windows application interacts with external systems or hardware, like sensors, printers, or other peripherals, it’s difficult to ensure seamless integration with these components in a web environment.

Testing and QA: Managing and maintaining test suites for a web-native application is resource-intensive.

User Training and Adoption: Transitioning users from a Windows application to a web-native one requires training and documentation to facilitate the change. Customers that are happy with the features and functionality in the existing application will be highly reluctant to make the switch.


What Can You Do To Meet Market Challenges?

I recently talked to well-respected, market-leading ISV which had scoped out the timeline and costs required to rewrite their flagship Windows application in response to a couple of new web apps entering their market. A new web-native app development team would need at least 5 years to develop a web app with just a fraction of the functionality in the flagship application. In the meantime, the ISV would need to retain the existing development team to maintain and enhance the Windows application.

Essentially, they would be doubling their developer head count for five years to get a modern app with less than half the functionality of the app they already had. While the management team was absorbing that crushing realization, their product management team chimed in with research indicating that their customers loved the existing application’s rich functionality and were reluctant to change.

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

After more analysis, the management team realized that the core issue with the flagship app was not the app, but how they were delivering it, i.e., on their own infrastructure using Citrix. It was expensive. It was complex to manage. It was slow. It was not user friendly.

The ISV decided to move from using Citrix on their infrastructure to using GO-Global on a public cloud. First, their operational costs were immediately reduced. More importantly, they found that GO-Global profoundly improved their customers’ experience, with easy logons, fast performance, and features like Session Reconnection, which allows users experiencing an unexpected network outage to return to their GO-Global session in the exact state they left it after authenticating using the normal login procedure.

Another benefit was the ability to implement Single Sign-On and two-factor authentication with far less complexity and cost than with Citrix.

If you want to make your application platform-independent, or want to move to a SaaS model, it’s absolutely possible—without a rewrite—by using GO-Global to deliver your Windows application from any cloud to customers located anywhere.

GO-Global was purpose-built to publish Windows applications from any cloud—simply, easily, and cost-effectively. And, when deployed on any cloud service, GO-Global leverages that cloud service’s existing infrastructure and security and scalability features to deliver high functionality with less complexity and cost.

Avoiding an application rewrite means that you:

  • Retain the rich functionality that your customers love and rely on
  • Eliminate the risk of data corruption that’s possible when converting data formats
  • Preserve the user experience your customers already understand
  • Avoid reconfiguring the app’s integration with external components
  • Cancel the need to explore alternative solutions to existing legacy dependencies
  • Avoid forcing your customers to adopt a new app (when the old one worked great)

To request a demo, click here; for a free 30-day GO-Global trial, click here.

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