Microsoft's OS rides the same bandwidth pipelines that host OnLive's gaming service, and offers tablet owners a streamed desktop with access to fully functional versions of Microsoft Office products like Word, PowerPoint and Excel. The iPad app that is launching Thursday represents the outfit's "free" version of OnLive Desktop, and packs 2 GB of secure cloud storage in addition its limited suite of office applications. OnLive plans to expand the service with OnLive Desktop Pro, a paid variant (starting at $9.99 a month) with 50 GB of cloud storage, priority server access, additional applications and "cloud-accelerated browsing." Need something more specific? OnLive Enterprise will let firms custom tailor their cloud desktop to suit their needs -- dictating data, application and device access by user.
But how well does it work? It depends on your connection, of course. We dropped by OnLive's west coast headquarters to stream it from the source. Read on to see how it did, or simply skip the bottom if you're looking for an official press release.
Diving into OnLive's Windows stream is seamless and simple. Rather than booting to a application selection menu, à la the current games service, OnLive Desktop boots you directly to a Windows 7 desktop, complete with start menu, shortcuts and even a recycle bin. Launching Word, Excel or any other program is as simple as clicking on it. That's it. The entire interface mimics a Windows 7 tablet, and although we noticed a small amount of lag when dragging windows and writing prose on a bluetooth keyboard, the experience is satisfactorily fluid. The app might use Windows 7's touch controls too well, however -- the operating system's built in keyboard isn't exactly conducive to tablet typing. The outfit told us that it had considered using a custom keyboard, but opted to use Window's default setup to ensure OnLive Desktop launched with full, native control. In fact, we were told that new features -- such as keyboard options, new gesture controls and additional software -- will be dictated by customer feedback.
Cloud storage, which was sadly absent from our demo, is handled by uploading files through OnLive Office's website -- enabling them to be accessed via the streamed desktop's documents folder. When we probed our hosts about future software support, we were told it depended on what users demanded -- although nearly anything is possible. We've already seen OnLive desktop run Maya, and we were told it could easily bring resource heavy media editing software to the touchscreen as well.
OnLive told us part of its motivation to expand was simply a necessity of optimizing server utilization. Its gaming service drove the firm to build massive server farms across the globe, most of which are only used during peak gaming hours -- nights and weekends. Daytime, or working hours? All quiet on the digital front. OnLive Desktop can fill that utilization gap, and provide a pretty mean service, to boot. Still, the streaming firm is taking it easy at launch, limiting the free app to "as-available" access -- meaning that server access goes to paying customers first. Users who opt for the upcoming Pro version will be able to skip the potential server queue, and will also get to make use of a suite of collaborative services based on OnLive's spectating and voice chat technologies. In other words, paying customers will be able to run online meetings, activate screen sharing and use remote desktop control.
The app will be available January 12th on the iPad, but OnLive told us they plan to roll out subsequent apps for Android and its own MicroConsole, and will eventually launch the service on Macs and PCs. Ready to combine a 4G hotspot, a Transformer Prime and an OnLive Desktop account? We're tickled by the possibilities. Want to read more? Click that button below for the official press release.
Full Windows® Apps, Including Microsoft® Office, Delivered Instantly from the Cloud
Palo Alto, CA – January 9, 2012 – OnLive, Inc., the pioneer of instant-action cloud computing, announced that it is bringing the first no-compromise Windows desktop to iPad® through its free OnLive™ Desktop app, available Thursday in the iTunes® App Store. OnLive Desktop provides instant access to full-featured, media-rich Windows 7 applications, including Microsoft® Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® software, remotely hosted on powerful PC servers in the cloud.
Based upon OnLive's instant-action cloud gaming technology, OnLive Desktop delivers a seamless Windows desktop experience, with instant-response multi-touch gestures, together with a full on-screen Windows keyboard and handwriting recognition, enabling complete and convenient viewing and editing of even the most complex documents. Rich media, such as video, animation, slide transitions and even PC games, never before practical via remote desktop delivery, run fluidly and dynamically with instant-action interactivity. OnLive Desktop makes remote feel local.
"OnLive Desktop is the first app to deliver a no-compromise, media-rich Windows desktop experience to iPad, opening up powerful new possibilities for consumers and businesses," said Steve Perlman, OnLive Founder and CEO. "iPad users will now be able to simply and securely view and edit cloud-hosted documents with full-featured Windows desktop applications like Microsoft Office, just as if they were using a local high-performance PC. Multi-touch gestures respond instantly and smoothly, while HD videos, animations and PC video games-never before usable on a remote desktop-play seamlessly."
The FREE* OnLive Desktop app comes with 2 GB of secure cloud storage and as-available access to a cloud-based Windows 7 desktop pre-populated with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus several utilities and touch games. Using instant-response touch gestures such as pinch and zoom, flick to scroll, drag, drop and Aero snap, users can quickly and easily navigate files, open, edit and save the ones they need, and store them securely in the cloud for access from any device through a simple Web interface. PC apps have full desktop functionality: Word documents can be created and edited with full redline and commenting capability, using a full Windows touch-screen keyboard, handwriting recognition or Bluetooth keyboard. PowerPoint presentations can be created with rich graphics, videos and animated slide transitions, and even presented directly from the iPad, either onscreen or via an external monitor. Data can be updated and analyzed instantly in Excel, translated into graphs and transferred into presentation documents. With OnLive Desktop, work is now possible anywhere you have an iPad and Internet connectivity, with the immediacy, functionality and responsiveness of a local PC.
The Free OnLive Desktop app for iPad is just the tip of the iceberg. Android®, smartphones, PC, Mac® and monitor/TV support (via the OnLive MicroConsole™ thin client with Bluetooth keyboard/mouse) are coming soon, with your same OnLive Desktop available by login from any device. Your OnLive Desktop can be accessed anywhere, on any device, at any resolution.
OnLive Desktop Pro is coming soon, with 50 GB of cloud storage, priority access, full-featured cloud-accelerated browsing, additional PC apps, and other OnLive-unique features for just $9.99/month.
OnLive Enterprise will be available for businesses and organizations of all sizes, seeking centralized, secure computing resources, as well as Independent Software Vendors seeking to deliver custom applications. With OnLive Enterprise, IT departments have full control of user entitlements/access privileges to both retail and ISV applications, while enabling users to access the same applications through any device. For example, a hospital can entitle different levels of records access to doctors, receptionists and patients, with full privacy, whether data is viewed on a smartphone, computer, on an easily-sterilized tablet in an examining room, or even on a hospital room TV. No user data is left behind on any device, so records remain secure if a device is lost or stolen. (IT professionals and ISVs, please contact OnLive at email@example.com for OnLive Enterprise details and pricing.)
OnLive Desktop Pro and Enterprise support exclusive OnLive collaborative services. Building on the same proven technology as the massive spectating Arena of the OnLive Game Service, OnLive securely enables as many as thousands of simultaneous users to view one or many OnLive Desktops from any device, with live spectating and group chat, and multi-user control. Whether using OnLive collaborative services as a shared document reader or virtual whiteboard in a small workgroups, for chatting over home videos among far-flung family members, or for lecturing with Q&A to an audience of thousands of students around the world, OnLive provides instant, media-rich collaboration.
The OnLive Desktop iPad app will be available Thursday to U.S. customers for free in the iTunes App Store, and will be released soon in the UK. Customers are encouraged to sign up early for their free OnLive account, available today at www.desktop.onlive.com. For more information, visit www.desktop.onlive.com.