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What are the advantages of Java Web Start over a Java web application?

Java Web Start and Web applications solve two very different problems. A Web Start program is a regular graphical application program that is downloaded to and run on the user's computer. It acts like any other downloaded program written in Java, and typically uses a toolkit like Swing for its interface. It'll need to be digitally signed and approved by the user, and the user will have to have a JRE installed on the client computer. Web Start is just a convenient way to get the jars for the application downloaded and kept up to date. Web Start is useful for applications that need quick response times, lots of computation, or to access files on the user's computer (e.g., a photo uploader).

Web applications, on the other hand, are Web sites with interactive features. Examples include everything from Google's search suggestions to Facebook to Stack Exchange. Java is a useful language to write Web applications in, with tools like Spring and Hibernate, but a Web application is just a Web site that's delivered to the user as HTML and Javascript and runs in a Web browser.

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