Roozz: create browser based web apps out of any desktop program


What if I told you that a technology exists that can take any Windows program and turn it into a fully-functional web app that looks and feels exactly like the original desktop version, without the need for the source code, and without the kind of re-programming or web development that aims to rebuild the app from the ground up?

The technology is called Roozz. It can take most programs and recast them as web apps in a matter of hours; the only requirement for the user to be able to use the browser-based apps is to install a browser plugin.

Although this might seem like a disadvantage compared to other web app technologies, Roozz professes to have a significant edge in performance/speed as well as the fact that the conversion process itself is quick and does not require re-programming.

To see this in action, install the Roozz plugin first (found on this page), then check out their web based version of free image editing app PhotoScape, or take a look at the web version of freeware favorite IrfanView. If you’re a gamer, try their rendition of Serious Sam or Duke Nukem 3D (You will agree, I am certain, that the transformation is quite amazing).

Rooz Illustration2

The concept: what Roozz is for

Roozz is designed for many kinds of uses, such as letting people use and/or try out software without having to download or install it first, for developers to be able to “rent out” software on a per use basis or only as needed by the end user, or for publisher (think game developers) to put their software out there, in the browser, if they would prefer doing so than providing it locally on the end user’s machine (for the purposes of monetizing through ads, say, or sponsorships etc.) Also, it’s a great way for programmers to go cross platform.

The experience of running the software in browser is exactly the same as if it were being run locally or from CD, with zero performance hit. Games, in particualar, seem to work well with Roozz,

Although I mention some freeware programs published as Roozz web apps, the Roozz technology is technically not free ( normally); rather, it is typically based on a revenue sharing or licensing arrangement of some sort with the developer of the original app (see more on pricing here).

How it works:

You can send in any software and it can be converted within (48) hours. This has to be done manually via email, and there is no web interface to do this.

Note two things though (1) converted apps have to come with the developer’s consent, of course, and (2) while most programs will convert, those that require drivers to be installed and those that require administrator permissions do not play well with Roozz . Realistically, about 50% of Windows software can currently be converted, a figure expected to rise to about 80% in the coming years (according to the Roozz people).

The Roozz service provides not just the conversion, but will also host the app on their servers. The developer can then run the web app wherever they wish; they could embed it in their own website and give selected access to it, or make it public, or publish it on partner sites that he/she chooses, etc.  They also also do not need to worry about security: Roozz can provide encryption and developers can rest assured that their software cannot be compromised or reverse engineered.

In all cases, users need to install the Roozz plugin in their browser(s) for the converted apps to work. The good news is that it is an unobtrusive 1 meg only, compatible with ALL browsers (and which, they like to point out, has so far been downloaded by 120,000 people).

The test:

To test this service, I sent the developers a simple freeware program that I had previously written up on this blog. It converted perfectly, in less than 24 hours, looking and functioning so much like the desktop version it was quite remarkable. However, because we hadn’t obtained permission from the original developer, I am unable to share a link to this program publicly.

I had been notified that because of the default security settings in IE on Vista and Win7 it might not be possible to save files to most places on the hard drive (and that they expect to come up with a workaround by the end of 2011), but I had no problems saving to desktop. (I was using Chrome, so that might have had something to do with it).

The verdict:

I can imagine Roozz technology being part of a future where all data and all programs are in the cloud, and all computers and devices mere terminals.

However, there are many competing web app technologies out there, some of which have carved niches for themselves as de-facto standards, and most are better known. You can look at a comparison chart that is put together by the Roozz developers, which seems to outline it’s advantage in terms of sheer speed and performance, as well as the speed of implementation in the sense that no reprogramming is needed (you don’t have to wait a year or two while your software is being recreated and built across multiple platforms). I do wonder, however, if the need to install a browser plugin might be a deal breaker, at least for a segment of users that may not be so technically savvy.

In any case, Roozz, to sum up, is simply impressive. Their ability to quickly put something out on the web that retains so much of the original program’s look and feel is remarkable. If you are a developer wondering about the best way to put your software out there for people to see and use it, I would strongly encourage you to give Roozz a spin.

Compatibility: Windows, Linux apps on ALL browsers (including IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera).

Go to the Roozz home page to check out the service.