As we move into an age dominated by browser-based and mobile apps, traditional desktop software that you install locally on your computer can feel a little outdated. Roozz is a startup looking to change that by bringing it to your browser.

The Copenhagen-based firm has announced $500,000 of funding today led by Denmark’s SEED Captial, which will help it in its mission to take desktop apps to the cloud. The idea is that buying such (sometimes expensive) software in an age of cheap or free Web apps can be unappealing. So, Roozz lets users rent software instead.

How it works

Once you’ve rented a title, it’s accessible to use in your browser, and you can run it from any Internet-connected computer that you like without having to worry about any installation process. While the actual application file is downloaded and cached on your computer, access to it is controlled over the Internet. The advantages of this are that you get the benefit of not having to buy something outright that you may only use once or twice, and any updates are handled automatically.

At present, Roozz only supports Windows apps and the browser plugin you need to run the service only works with that operating system. However, where things could get really interesting is when planned Mac and Linux versions of the plugin are released. This would mean that you could, say, run Windows apps supported by the service on a Mac within your browser without the need for installing virtualization software.

Roozz tells us that in the case of non-native apps, the original software would be run from a remote server and streamed to your browser, similar to the way the likes of games service Onlive works.

The startup faces competition from the similar Spoon. While there are a few differences to the way the two services work, the main one is that Roozz offers a rental model for accessing software, which could well be the key use case for such technology.

A model for the future?

Roozz was founded last year and took part in the 2010 Copenhagen cohort of the Startup Bootcamp accelerator. Today’s funding will be used to hire additional developers to improve the platform and scale the service. The investment includes an option of a further $500,000 injection in the future. Two years from now, the startup aims to have several thousand apps supported by the service, and 5 million regular users.

The team’s ultimate vision is to be the preferred way people try and buy software and games online. While the growth of HTML5-based Web apps is sure to be a big challenge to this plan, Roozz could give the traditional .exe file a new lease of life.