OnLive Desktop iPad App Puts Windows 7 in Your Hands Via the Cloud

This one is filed – what will they think of next.

It is now possible to have a fully functional copies of Windows 7 and Office 2010 running on your iPad. Not only that, it’s free!

Streaming via the cloud is nothing new to OnLive as they have been streaming video games for a while. In fact it was about a month ago that they started streaming big ticket games to iOS and Android devices. I guess the next logical step to them was to offer the platform that these games ran on – Windows PC’s.

Side Note

Before I go any further you may be asking why this tried and true Apple fan is interested in running Windows on his iOS device. To some running Windows on an iPad would seem like a unforgivable since – which in most cases it would be. But, the web design/developer in me is jumping up and down inside because this could be the easiest way to check cross-browser compatibility. Internet Explorer is the only browser that you cannot get on the Mac so we are always tasked into finding access to IE in one form or another in order to get our pages to conform to IE inconsistencies.Unfortunately Windows still dominates the world and therefore we must learn to to play with the popular kid in school.

Moving on…

Hands On With My iPad

As soon as the iPad app was made available I snatched it up to test it out. The app was a breeze to install and connection to the OnLive Windows servers was seamless. The responsiveness of clicking and drag in the Windows desktop was pretty responsive and was on par with what I have experienced with Parallels.

With the free version you get access to a stripped down version of Windows 7 along with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint which are all the latest 2010 version. They have loaded sample docs for each Office app for you to play around with. Also included were a couple of game, MS Paint (Woho!!), and MS Surface Collage which you can tell that it was designed for a touch interface.

Speaking of touch interface – Windows 7 is not that great with as a touch OS. To be fair it was designed to be a desktop OS but you can really feel the difference between how buttons and menus are accessed. I have average size fingers but I often found it difficult to get the pointer to click right where I wanted it to on the tiny menus and buttons. Although I probably would never really use MS Paint for anything, I found it impossible to do the simplest things such as resize text.

The last issue that I had which I believe can be remedied is the keyboard. The OnLive app currently uses the built-in Windows 7 touch keyboard as opposed to the iPad keyboard. The Windows 7 keyboard is small and cumbersome which makes any text entry difficult. I would love the option to use the iPad keyboard and even a Bluetooth keyboard. I believe the latter would make this app more practical and easy to use and would be an option that I would be willing to pay for.

Oh, I forgot to mention Internet Explorer – the reason I would use this regularly – it’s not there. I cannot say that I blame them. I mean most normal people would not login to Windows from a iPad to surf the web in Windows. I am not normal though. Internet Explorer is what would make this really useful for me.

OnLive has already said that in the paid version they will allow you to install some apps in/on your desktop. They have stated that this will be limited to apps that are not considered security risks. Lets hope that they are not to strick with this. Along with the ability to install apps they are giving you 50GB of space for your apps and docs. That isn’t bad for $10 a month.

My Wish List

Despite my gripes about Windows the OnLive Desktop iPad app word flawlessly. OnLive has said that they plan on making Android/Mac/PC apps so that you can access your Desktop from those systems as well. Despite all these great features there are a few things that if offered I would be willing to upgrade to their paid version ($9.99/month and coming soon).

The first selling point would be to allow me to install the following apps:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Dropbox (I know they give 50GB but all my stuff is in DB)
  • Windows Live Writer (There still isn’t anything close to this on the Mac)
  • Outlook

Features that I would like to have:

  • iOS keyboard (please don’t make me use the Win 7 one anymore)
  • Bluetooth Keyboard (This would be awesome)
  • Appearance privileges (to change desktop colors/sizes/etc)
  • Access to the iPad photos and albums
  • Copy and past between iOS and Windows (I know, Im dreaming)

That is the short list of apps and features that I would like after playing with the app for a little while. I think that OnLive has some good potential with this if they continue to innovate the way that they have been. It is something that I would pay for and use often if they just added some of the above items.


Here are some screenshots that I took off of my iPad while I was playing around with the app.


The OnLive Desktop app featuring Windows 7 can be downloaded here from the Apple iOS app store.