Tuesday, 10 January 2012

OnLive Announces the Launch of a Free Cloud Based Windows 7 Desktop App and Cloud Web Browser for iPad and Other Devices

This week is the start of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the event, OnLive announced some new features that their users have been waiting for some time.

They announced the release of their free, OnLive Desktop App. The OnLive Desktop App will be available on iPad, Android devices, PCs, Macs and TVs supported through its OnLive MicroConsole thin client. However, it will initially only be available for the iPad. The OnLive Desktop App will be available for download in the iTunes App Store starting on Thursday January 12th in the United States, and soon thereafter in the UK.

The OnLive Desktop app will include access to full-featured, media-rich Windows 7 applications. These applications will be remotely hosted on powerful PC servers in the cloud, similar to those that OnLive currently uses for its cloud gaming service. 

Given that OnLive generally pushes for more graphically demanding content through its video streaming network, running Windows 7 should prove to be rather easy for the company's engineers. OnLive already has the OnLive App for games available on Android devices, but the OnLive App for gaming on iOS devices still awaits Apple's approval.

The OnLive Desktop App fulfills the dream of cloud computing that many hoped would someday come, through which processing happens in the network rather than on the device. That means that devices no longer need to have high-end CPUs or memory to handle business-class applications. For instance, with the release of the OnLive App, the iPad could for the first time be seen as a potential laptop replacement for business users who need more powerful and feature-rich productivity software than is currently available on the tablet.

Since applications are running on high-end computing clusters in OnLive’s data centers, the only thing holding back performance is the network. Which means that in today’s world of pervasive broadband connectivity, Windows applications running on an iPad could potentially be faster than those running on a standard Windows 7 laptop.

OnLive stated that part of its motivation to expand to Apps was simply a necessity of optimizing server utilization. Its gaming service drove the firm to build massive server farms across the globe, most of which are only used during peak gaming hours -- nights and weekends. Daytime, or working hours? All quiet on the digital front. OnLive Desktop can fill that utilization gap, and provide a pretty mean service, to boot. Still, the streaming firm is taking it easy at launch, limiting the free app to "as-available" access -- meaning that server access goes to paying customers first. Users who opt for the upcoming OnLive Desktop Pro $9.99/month version will be able to skip the potential server queue, and will also get to make use of a suite of collaborative services based on OnLive's spectating and voice chat technologies. In other words, paying customers will be able to run online meetings, activate screen sharing and use remote desktop control.

“OnLive Desktop delivers a seamless Windows desktop experience, with instant response multi-touch gestures, together with a full on-screen Windows keyboard and handwriting recognition, enabling complete and convenient viewing and editing of even the most complex documents,” said OnLive in a statement. “Rich media, such as video, animation, slide transitions and even PC games, never before practical via remote desktop delivery, run fluidly and dynamically with instant-action interactivity. OnLive Desktop makes remote feel local”

There is a free version as well as a paid version of the new OnLive Desktop App. The free version will include 2 GB of cloud storage. It will also include Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus several other Windows utilities and touch games.

Using instant-response touch gestures such as pinch and zoom, flick to scroll, drag, drop and Aero snap, users will be able to quickly and easily navigate files, open, edit and save the ones they need, and store them securely in the cloud for access from any device through a simple Web interface.

Word Documents

PC Apps have full desktop functionality: Word documents can be created and edited with full redline and commenting capability, using a Windows touch-screen keyboard, handwriting recognition or Bluetooth keyboard.

PowerPoint Presentation

PowerPoint presentations can be created with rich graphics, videos and animated slide transitions, and even presented directly from the iPad, either onscreen or via an external monitor.


Data can be updated and analyzed instantly in Excel, translated into graphs and transferred into presentation documents.

“OnLive Desktop is the first App to deliver a no-compromise, media-rich Windows desktop experience to iPad, opening up powerful new possibilities for consumers and businesses,” said OnLive Founder and CEO, Steve Perlman. “iPad users will now be able to simply and securely view and edit cloud-hosted documents with full featured Windows desktop applications like Microsoft Office, just as if they were using a local high-performance PC. Multi-touch gestures respond instantly and smoothly, while HD videos, animations and PC video games—never before usable on a remote desktop—play seamlessly.”

OnLive Desktop Pro is coming soon, with 50 GB of cloud storage, priority access, full-featured cloud-accelerated web browsing, additional PC apps, and other OnLive-unique features for $9.99/month (US).

OnLive Web Browser

OnLive is also announcing the launch of the cloud based web browser, which has been much anticipated by many OnLive users. It was initially supposed to be released this past summer, but due to overwhelming demand for OnLive’s service as a whole, it was pushed back. The cloud web browser is said to accelerate browsing speeds, especially on smartphones and tablets. For now it will only be made available in the OnLive Desktop Pro $9.99/month plan when it will be released.

OnLive will use Internet Explorer 9 as the web browser on the OnLive Desktop App.

The OnLive Web Browser should have support for Flash content, HTML5 and other plug-ins. Because OnLive servers are housed in data centers that are directly connected to the internet backbone and the user only gets a streaming video of what happens on these servers, high-end Flash sites will be loaded ultra fast and with virtually no waiting time. OnLive promises speeds to their servers of up to 10 Gbps. Yes, you read that right, Flash is finally coming to the iPad and this time Apple doesn't have to fear it will run slow.

OnLive is also announcing their Enterprise plan, meant for businesses and organizations of any size, seeking centralized, secure computing resources, as well as Independent Software Vendors seeking to deliver custom applications. With OnLive Enterprise, IT departments have full control of user entitlements/access privileges to both retail and ISV applications, while enabling users to access the same applications through any device.

An example of the OnLive Entreprise plan was provided by OnLive:
“A hospital can entitle different levels of records access to doctors, receptionists and patients, with full privacy, whether data is viewed on a smartphone, computer, on an easily-sterilized tablet in an examining room, or even on a hospital room TV. No user data is left behind on any device, so records remain secure if a device is lost or stolen.”
OnLive Desktop Pro and Enterprise support exclusive OnLive collaborative services. Building on the same proven technology as the massive spectating Arena of the OnLive Game Service, OnLive securely enables as many as thousands of simultaneous users to view one or many OnLive Desktops from any device, with live spectating and group voice chat, and multi-user control. Whether using OnLive collaborative services as a shared document reader or virtual whiteboard in small workgroups, for chatting over home videos among far-flung family members, or for lecturing with Q&A to an audience of thousands of students around the world, OnLive provides instant, media-rich collaboration.

The OnLive Desktop iPad App will be available Thursday January 12th to U.S. customers for free in the iTunes App Store, and will be released soon in the UK. Customers are encouraged to sign up for their free OnLive Desktop account, available at desktop.onlive.com.

SOURCES: OnLiveFans, Engadget.

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