Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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A Windows 7 Desktop and MS office all on the cloud, all free, with this cool app for your iPad!

Friday, January 20, 2012

  • Imagine an app where you can run a Windows 7 desktop right from your iPad.  
  • Imagine having Office 2010, media player and other apps on that desktop.  
  • Imagine 2 gig of free storage on that virtual Windows 7 machine. 
  • And one more thing... can it be free?

Wow, that's a long list, but that day has arrived!
onlive.com offers this and more.  I heard about this app a couple days ago, but did not get a chance to try it out, so this morning I took a few minutes, setup my account, downloaded the app, and kicked the tires on this baby. Being in the tech business, I keep current with technology and trends. I see a lot of things that would of given us cardiac arrest five years ago... but this app may just do that anyway.  It' amazing what can be done virtually anymore and all from the cloud... and the heart stopper.... the free plan has some great features.

A couple days ago, I tried the CloudOn product, which has a few similarities with it's own pro's and Con's.  Right now, that product is free, but they do not have their pricing structure and plans in place, so that scares me a little bit. There are some things I really like about this product too, so you will want to check it out on your own. (The online keyboard is much better.)

In short, you have a  Windows 7 desktop on your iPad that has Microsoft Office, Media Player, and a few other tools all on the start menu for you to use.  (Make sure you try out the Microsoft Surface Collage program on this desktop as well, it pretty cool. ) You save your files to the "My Documents" folder, and then those files are also available on a website (Similar to DropBox and other cloud services) where you can upload or download files from. With the free plan, you have 2 give of free space.

Right now, tablets are awesome media consumption devices, but can be a little cumbersome with media creation.  (Maybe an external keyboard would help with this, but I do not lug one around.) Right now, this is the only downside to using the onlive.com product.  The problem is compounded a little because they do not use the iPad on-screen keyboard, but instead you have to use the on-screen pop-up Microsoft keyboard, that I find even more cumbersome. (Maybe an external Bluetooth keyboard would be a must for using this product all the time.)

It's not perfect.  Just like any tech guy, I have a wish list, but for now it's a short one:
  • Offer a desktop app that will sync a folder locally from your computer to the onlive.com storage space on the cloud. (Similar to Dropbox's program.)
  • Offer the capability to use the iPad's on-screen keyboard instead of the Microsoft one. 
  • Keep it free for the 2 gig, so I can continue to promote the product. (Dropbox, Sugar Sync, and others have... so hopefully these guys will too.)

Visit this site to learn more.  Signup for your account, download the app, and get started. http://desktop.onlive.com/

Remember... Keep in mind, there are many Cloud products and services that are offering some great free features, but proceed with caution. This time in the tech world reminds me of the 90's and all of the free services and new tech innovations that we see coming out daily.  When I went to Comdex in the late 90's I saw a lot of cool tech start-up and a lot of great vaporware that never made it to market.  Wow did they give away the t-shirts, pens, and more, but the the Bubble burst.  So... what is my point? Some of these services are here to stay. (Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, etc...)  But some of these companies may not make it, so always keep backups of your files in another location when working with some of these "start-up" companies and products. Use them, they have great features that you can put to use today, but I would not create my only resume on one of these new services and never have a copy somewhere else. 

Techy note:  For those of you managing a network, you need Port 443 open as well as ports 16384-16640 for UDP traffic out.  

Over all... 4.5 stars for this one.  Amazing technology and amazing feature set in the free product.  Thanks onlive.com!

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