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If there's one company I've been incredibly impressed with as of late, it's got to be OnLive. First they bring their popular game streaming service to Android, give us a fully functional universal remote to use with it, and then, as if to top themselves off, bring something altogether unheard of: OnLive Desktop.

For those curious about how OnLive Desktop works, the premise is pretty simple: instead of streaming games to your Android tablet over a high-speed internet connection, you're streaming a fully functional Windows 7 installation, thereby allowing yourself to keep the laptop at home and do your Windows work on your tablet. It's a cool idea, and fortunately for OnLive, it works really well.

If you have an OnLive account (for games), you've already got a standard OnLive Desktop account. Simply login and you're taken to your Windows 7 desktop, complete with Microsoft Office programs, Adobe Reader, and your own personal Documents folder, ripe for hosting up to 2GB in OnLive's cloud. (If you want to be able to surf the internet using Internet Explorer or host more than 2GB of files, you'll have to pony up $4.99/month for OnLive's "Plus" service. Boo.)

As far as function goes, OnLive has really hit the nail on the head. Opening programs is snappier than on some older computers I've used, and pairing your tablet up with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse only enhances your experience and efficiency. If you're using your finger to navigate (as I suspect most of you might), you'll notice that no double-clicks are needed; all programs act almost like hyperlinks. With only a single tap, you can open anything your heart desires (as long as it's installed on OnLive's machines).

Overall, while I think OnLive has built a really great app that functions well, I'm not sure it's entirely practical, given the options you have to edit programs natively on Android. With apps like QuickOffice Pro (or HD, in the case of tablets) giving you rich document editing right in Android, services like Dropbox giving you excellent document syncing and cloud storage, and full Flash support built right into the standard browser (something you only get with OnLive's "Plus" plan), I'm left scratching my head about how many people will jump on OnLive's bandwagon and really need it.

Regardless, the app is phenomenal (and it's free!). If you're up for giving it a spin, we've got download links after the break.


Reader comments

OnLive Desktop [Android App Review]


I jumped on the bandwagon and scratching my head wondering when I will use it. I already have and use Quickoffice with Google Docs with Dropbox. Not completely onboard for the long haul but do like it and it's potential.

I have all the mobile Office apps - NONE of them compare to MS Office; especially when it comes to creating documents. Docs to Go has a good spreadsheet program; MS Excel is still far better.

Now that Office is available on a tablet, I can see a good enough reason to stop returning Android tablets (they're just toys, so far). I'm still going to wait for Win 8 tablets.

Have you heard whether there will be a version of Office for ARM? I haven't seen/heard anything about it yet, so you may want to temperr your expectations. There will be Win8 tablets using standard laptop-type hardware (similar to today's crop of Win7 tablets, slates, and convertibles). Then there will be Win8 tablets using ARM-based architectures (similar to today's crop of Android tablets). But the Win8 for ARM platform won't run any of the legacy Windows hardware, it all has to be re-written for the new, shared Win8 platform to allow it to run on both. Given the prevalence of Office 365, I'm not sure if it's worth the effort to create a 5th Office platform (32 bit Windows, 64 but Windows, Mac, O365, and Windows on ARM), especially if O365 works on a Win8 tablet.

Now if I could install Roller Coaster Tycoon or maybe Red Alert and play it through my phone, that would be useful.

Or Onlive could just add some more RTS games for me to play through my phone. My WIFI connection is so bad at work, the games lag too much.

Ive been using it mostly to play with. Being a mac user however, there are benefits to having a fully functional Office at your fingertips. And Office 2010 is far superior to Office 2011 (at least I think).

I put a small video up, and was surprised that it streamed nicely and with sound! i tried a larger file by using 7zip to split it up into bite sized pieces to upload (to bypass the 100mb upload limit) but it would not go back together. i also tried uploading a portable app (chrome and vlc) but OnLive has it so you cant run exe's at all.

"I'm not sure it's entirely practical, given the options you have to edit programs natively on Android."

While this is true, I have yet to use one-and I've tried them all-that have all the functionality of Office; more importantly to me, one that keeps all the formatting of my original .doc file.

I agree 100%. My last semester of college I tried using 3 different apps: docs to go, quickoffice pro HD, and Polaris office on my Iconia tab. They were all terrible for anything beyond the most basic word processing. Clunky, very few options at hand, and next to impossible to do more complex formatting. I also had a helluva time with the programs saving my work! I found that if I did not save immediately, it would just throw it away. No multitasking capabilities without hitting the save button, and a couple times saving didn't work either. It was an exercise in frustration and affected my grades. Eventually gave up on using my tablet for note taking.

long life story, I know, but this is brilliant, for real. Will be using it, no question.

This could be huge for enterprise and document/worksheet distribution and data collecting. The only problem is people who work for enterprise IT are pretty much retarded and clueless and would NEVER implement this properly. Oh well!! Back to Windows XP!!

The inability in Onlive to upload modified files directly back to Dropbox overrides its value for me. Using the native Android apps., I can open, edit and update file back to Dropbox, which in turn automatically syncs my laptop copy in a natural flow, with no arduous file renaming or manipulation. I think I will ultimately pass on Onlive.

Most people don't want to leave their own computer running all day. If it works for you, great. Don't wanna be paying your electric bill, though. :)

Unfortunately Microsoft has questioned OnLive’s licensing arrangements (or lack thereof?) for their Windows offering. So the whole future of this service could be in doubt.

Another option for accessing Windows applications from Android tablets (and iPads) is Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP client that enables tablet users to connect to any RDP host, including VDI virtual desktops, Terminal Server and physical desktops and run their applications and desktops in a browser.

Ericom‘s AccessNow does not require any other underlying technology to be installed on end-user devices – an HTML5 browser is all that is required.

For more info, and to download a demo, visit:

Note: I work for Ericom

How are all of the above solutions different from running VNC server at home and client on a tablet / mobile?