While the industry waits for iPad Office apps, one company is taking a different route to getting Microsoft's productivity suite on Apple's tablet.
Cloud-based video gaming service OnLive has launched OnLive Desktop, a free service that places a virtual Windows 7 desktop on the iPad. OnLive grants iPad owners cloud-based access to Windows Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), Adobe Reader for PDFs and 2 gigabytes of free storage via Dropbox integration.
For $4.99 a month, the OnLive Desktop Plus subscription gets users priority access and a cloud-accelerated browser with "lightning-fast" Flash support.
Can Speed Un-hasten Flash's Demise?
Since its launch, Apple's decision to exclude support for Adobe's web interactivity and multimedia format on the iPad has been controversial. While the tablet's success is viewed as instrumental in accelerating HTML5 adoption among some web development circles, the lack of native Flash support has rendered Flash-heavy sites unusable on the tablets. There are iOS apps that can process Flash, but with varying degrees of success.
OnLive Desktop not only supports Flash, but the company claims that its platform can pipe full, lag-free Flash player functionality to the iPad.
According to OnLive, its "gigabit-speed accelerated browsing experience" can load complex Flash sites in seconds, whether over Wi-Fi or 4G LTE. This capability, borrowed from the acceleration technology that powers its cloud gaming business, turns OnLive Desktop Plus into the fastest mobile Flash player, says OnLive.
Eyeing the Enterprise
OnLive has ambitions beyond gamers and average consumer PC users.
In the works is a premium tier, the $9.99 per month OnLive Desktop Pro, which adds 50 gigabytes of cloud storage, virtual desktop customization and additional support for select PC applications. The company is also working on an OnLive Enterprise option that offers custom integration by ISVs for businesses seeking a thin client-like platform for tablets.
In a post on the company's blog, CEO and founder Steve Perlman hints at conferencing and collaboration features that are coming to OnLive Desktop’s business subscriptions. Plans call for leveraging his firm’s Game Service Arena technology to allow "thousands of users to simultaneously view, control and discuss a shared media-rich desktop via voice chat."
The OnLive Desktop app is available as a free download at the iTunes Store. The company is also working on versions for iPhone, Android, PC and Mac.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE