Friday, February 24, 2012

Onlive Desktop Plus adds Flash-y browser support, Microsoft Office to your iPad, for $5 monthly

OnLive Desktop has gone paywall, with a $5 Plus version of the product. First seen at CES 2012, the free non-Plus version allows iPad users to remotely access a Windows 7 computer, streaming the desktop experience to your iPad. OnLive Desktop Plus adds a lot of functionality to the mix, for $4.99 monthly.

To do all this, either for the paid or free version, you connect to one of OnLive Desktop's computers at one of its three data centers. Those computers have 1Gbps up and down speeds, making things work amazingly swiftly, though of course the end result is ultimately still limited by your own broadband connection, although OnLive reduces the impact by limiting the amount of data sent to your iPad to what is compatible with, say, its screen.

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The free version comes with only 2GB of cloud storage, and you were limited to the applications on-board the system, no installing of apps allowed. You could run a number of Microsoft Office applications (no Outlook).

At CES, Onlive said it would introduce a $9.99 Pro version with more dedicated servers, 50GB of cloud storage, and access to a number of other apps, including a Flash-enabled browser. Thursday's launch of OnLive Desktop Plus sort of a tweener tier that wasn't previously mentioned.

Make it Yours
Users pay $4.99 a month, but don't get additional cloud storage, which could be a problem for some. They gain access to the promised Flash-enabled browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer; some might wish it was Firefox or Chrome, but beggars can't be choosers). Other features are Dropbox support and Adobe PDF Reader support.

The addition of Flash to the iPad might be worth the $4.99 a month, at least for those with discretionary income to spend. Despite what Apple may say about Flash, and despite the fact that Adobe has decided to drop future mobile development, it's still around the Web in many places, and if nothing else, Online Desktop Plus solves the issue of viewing Hulu on an iPad.

To be clear, OnLive wants at least a 2-megabits-a-second connection on your end. If your wi-fi is wonky, expect OnLive to complain that the speed isn't sufficient to run the service.

You can expect a fully patched, malware-free system that seems fresh out of the box. That's both positive and negative; while IE will save bookmarks, Online Desktop won't save any Windows 7 settings, so if you're used to seeing the desktop a certain way, expect to reset it every time you re-enter the program.

Eventually, OnLive Desktop and Online Desktop Plus will be available for Android, Mac, PC, smartphone, and monitor/TV via the OnLive MicroConsole. OnLive Desktop Pro is still coming, and will add that promised 50GB of storage and access to a selection of additional, but as of yet, unspecified apps.

Still, with rumors of a suite of an official Microsoft Office suite coming to the iPad, will users want to spend $5 a month for OnLive Desktop?

That's the big $5 per month question. App Store link is here.

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