This week Google added Spaces and calling to Gmail. These capabilities are apps and services, but not clients. Google builds its apps and services to A) work in a desktop browser (clientless or thin client), and B) work in GMail.
Microsoft is more traditional and sticks with its tried and true strategy of client/server. Microsoft-centric knowledge workers generally run two fat clients on their desktops all day: Outlook and Teams. Conversely, Google is able to roll-out new services as it pleases - Spaces will just magically appear to its users.
Google doesn’t have to create separate apps for Windows and Macs. Users (or IT) don’t have to upgrade their client to enable new services or apps. The browser-based desktop is more secure (less local data). And, the browser is easier to maintain, and requires lower spec hardware.
If Google can build and deploy advanced, UCC services without any desktop software, it makes one wonder why MS uses two fat clients. It’s not just MS, Cisco and Zoom also prefer clients. Meanwhile, 8x8, Fuze, RingCentral, Talkdesk, and Vonage (to name a few) do fine without clients. Not to mention other popular cloud services including Facebook, Amazon, Google, Salesforce, Netflix, and many more.
I give Outlook a pass. It’s been around since the 90s and client/server made sense back then. But Teams is relatively new - newer than Google and Facebook. It’s not as if software clients are inexpensive to deploy, support, and upgrade. So why does client/server still thrive in 2021?