A true cloud software product is designed and developed to run right in a web browser – wherever you have a device with an internet connection, you have a web browser and therefore you have access to cloud software natively. Because all you need is a web browser, that means the software adapts to wherever you might be using it. So while on a PC you can drag-and-drop documents into the software, on a tablet you can use touch gestures to scroll and enter data. No separate apps or separate versions are required – true cloud software automatically adapts to your devices and the features built into their web browsers.
Contrasting that experience with using a remote desktop the difference is clear. Hosting a desktop-based software on a remote server might give you rudimentary ability to access and run the software from multiple locations such as on a tablet, but it remains limited by the original software itself and the confines of the desktop environment. Taking the example above – a remote desktop situation won’t give you the ability to interact using touch from a tablet – the capability simply isn’t there. Even accessing the remote desktop at all from a mobile device is dependent on the right client application being installed on all your devices and the server being compatible.
Aside from the difference in end-user experience, there is a clear advantage of true cloud software in terms of the server infrastructure which powers the software. Cloud software is typically powered by dedicated and purpose-engineered web application servers, so that the full power of the equipment is going to running the features of the software, transparently to the user. With a remotely-hosted desktop, all the traditional infrastructure and overhead of an IT environment has to be maintained, leaving users open to the same performance and reliability issues that have always been present in such environments.