OnLive Desktop Plus impressions: A Windows 7 desktop on your iPad, now with a browser

OnLive Desktop Plus

In January, video game streaming company OnLive decided to enter the remote desktop space with “OnLive Desktop.” The service allows anyone with an iPad (and soon Android or any other computing platform) to access a Windows 7 desktop in the cloud and use it much like any computer. It comes with 2GB of cloud storage and access to Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. All for free. Unfortunately, it was missing one critical element: a browser. OnLive restricted access to the browser and didn’t allow the installation of apps. OnLive Desktop Plus changes this.

Today, OnLive is announcing a $5 per month add-on to its Desktop service. Desktop Plus adds browser access to the Windows experience with full Adobe Flash support and gigabit (or close to it) browsing speeds. It leverages OnLive’s huge server farms that normally stream out complex video games to subscribers of its Netflix-like game service. Streaming a Desktop environment, the company found out, is so much easier that it can almost be done as a side project by its servers. 

OnLive Desktop Plus for Android

We met up with OnLive CEO Steve Perlman last week for a demo, and found it impressive. One of the big problems with the original OnLive desktop is how difficult it it is to transfer files out of the remote environment and back onto your iPad or to some other computer. Desktop Plus solves this problem with the browser. Thanks to integration with some Web versions of services like Drop Box, you can now transfer files in quite a few more ways. It’s still not perfect — a fact that Perlman readily admits — but he says the company is working as fast as it can to improve things. 

Using the browser is a uniquely fun experience. Internet Explorer is currently the only browser available, though other options like Chrome will be added in the future. Like with any remote desktop, there is a bit of lag between when you click something on the Windows 7 desktop (which is accessed via an app on your iPad) and when it actually happens. This delay was a fraction of a second on a 4G LTE connection in Manhattan and there’s no great way to get around this ever-so-slight lag. Strangely though, since the Internet connection for these servers your connecting to is so fast, it negates the slight lag you get from the service itself. So while it might take a half second to click on a link, once that click goes through, the Web page actually loads much faster than it normally would on your iPad or PC. Our pages were loading at 750 megabits per second on the day in question. Downloading attachments from email or the Web is also an alarmingly fast experience. A 50 megabyte file downloaded in about a second or two. 

Loading flash content is also a great experience. Flash sites and videos often run slow or sluggishly, but OnLive’s servers are powerful enough to render the most complex sites in seconds  and brows them as if they were Craigslist. For anyone who needs Flash, this is a great service. It’s fast enough that you could watch Hulu or streaming video as well with no real problem at resolutions that would be too high for your machine at home. Activities like this can sometimes use up far less bandwidth as well, under some circumstances. Using OnLive to browse could use as little as 10 percent of the data a regular iPad browser would, according to Perlman. 

Assuming people bite on this $5 plan, a $10 per month Desktop Pro version is also on the way, which will offer 50GB of storage and limited software installation, as well as some extra controls for IT managers, which would be needed should a company decide to deploy OnLive Desktop across their office. Currently, the system is only available on the iPad, but we’ve seen working versions on the iPhone and Android devices of all types. Perlman told us that versions for the PC and Mac aren’t far off either. 

OnLive Desktop Plus - Maya software

Perhaps the most interesting demo we saw was for a program that might eventually be available in the Pro version. It’s professional software called Maya and is used to create 3D animation and visual effects. Right now, to use this software, you have to pay thousands of dollars and you need one beast of a computer to run it, but Perlman showed a demo of it running over OnLive on an iPad like it was nothing. He hinted that the software could be available via the cloud, allowing you to more easily collaborate and take advantage of OnLive’s gigabit Internet speeds to upload the Gigabytes of files it takes to load a complex 3D model or animation. Software like this could potentially be available for a cheaper monthly fee or even for free late at night, bringing down the cost barrier of entry for professional-grade software like this. Imagine the possibilities if anyone had the opportunity and access to learn how to use software like this on their own time. 

We asked Steve if this really fits in with OnLive’s reputation as a games company and he told me that it was never a game company. OnLive is a cloud services company. Gaming just gave them a foot in the door. 


Intel’s next-gen Comet Lake processors will reportedly arrive with 10 cores

Intel may give its next-generation desktop processor, known by its Comet Lake code name, a maximum of 10 cores, according to code found within the company's Linux drivers. Laptop CPUs will reportedly top out with six cores.

HP spring sale: Save up to 58 percent on laptops, desktops, printers, and more

From now until March 23, the HP spring sale lets you take as much as 58 percent off of a huge range of laptops, desktop PCs, printers, and more, potentially saving you more than $1,000. We’ve rounded up a dozen of the best deals right…

Save $500 on a 4K XPS 15 laptop and more with Microsoft’s Pi Day sales

In the market for a new laptop or desktop? Take advantage of Microsoft's Pi Day sale and net yourself some surprisingly grand savings this March 14, with discounts reaching as high as $800 in some cases.

These are the 6 best -- and free -- antivirus apps to help protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as choosing from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.

Most Android antivirus apps fail to provide malware protection, study shows

A study by AV-Comparatives analyzed the effectiveness of Android antivirus apps in protecting against the 2,000 most common malware threats. Alarmingly, only 23 of the apps were able to detect 100 percent of the malware samples.

Walmart to launch it’s own low-priced tablet, powered by Android 9.0 Pie

Walmart will soon launch its own low-cost, kid-friendly tablet, which will be powered by Android 9.0 Pie. The price and release date for the device are still unknown, but it will reportedly feature a MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM.
Product Review

Sony's Xperia 10 falls frustratingly short of budget brilliance

Better know for premium products, Sony does also have a budget smartphone range, but can the Sony Xperia 10 compete with great cheap phones from Nokia and Motorola? We put it through its paces to find out how it measures up.

Safeguard your Sony Xperia 10 smartphone with one of these cases

If you're looking for some protection to keep your Sony smartphone safe, or you want a different style, we've got you covered here with a list of the best Sony Xperia 10 cases. There are clear cases, rugged cases, wallet cases, and more.

Sony's Xperia 10 smartphone boasts a 6-inch screen and is now available

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.

Latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone will pop up on April 10

Samsung will show at least one new Galaxy phone off on April 10, it has confirmed in a teaser tweet. The Galaxy A90 may make its first appearance, and it's rumored to have a pop-up camera and a notch-less screen.

Leaked ZTE concept phones are crazy, possibly fake, and totally worth seeing

Renders of what may be ZTE concept phones may show how the manufacturer could avoid using the notch on future devices. They're crazy -- and maybe not even real -- but they're definitely worth looking at.

Get excited for your Sony Xperia 10 or 10 Plus by getting it set up just right

If you've picked up one of the Sony's more affordable smartphones, you may be be wondering what hidden depths lie within. We've got some handy Sony Xperia 10 tips for you here to help you get to grips with your new phone.

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…

These voice-changing apps will have you punking friends and family like a pro

Have you ever wanted to call your friends as Darth Vader or Alvin from the Chipmunks? If you want to play a prank on your friends, we have the best voice-changer apps for iOS and Android, whether you want to record audio or make a call.