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nivio: Windows access (with app rentals) on iPad, Android (review)

A new service has launched in beta that provides remote Windows access from any mobile browser or mobile device. The ability to rent and install programs is unique.

A new mobile service has launched in beta to provide Windows access, including the ability to install apps, from iOS and Android devices. The nivio service also allows accessing a remote Windows desktop via any web browser that handles HTML5, including most mobile browsers. I took nivio for a test drive using both the web browser access and on an iPad using the Wyse PocketCloud app nivio provides for stand-alone access.

The nivio service is very similar to the OnLive Desktop I have previously reviewed, and is based on a remote Windows Server installation like the latter. It is a remote desktop solution for using a Windows desktop installation from any modern browser or mobile device.

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What sets nivio apart from other solutions like OnLive is the ability to install and use Windows apps in the remote setting. This includes the full MS Office suite, various programs from vendors like Adobe, and even the web browsers Firefox, Opera, and Chrome. Those preferring the OpenOffice suite will be pleased to find it available in nivio.

The nivio approach is novel in that after the beta ends and the service goes live users will rent paid apps for an undisclosed monthly fee as long as they use them. It will be a pay-as-you-go scheme for apps that are installed and used. This will be a cost-effective solution for those needing occasional access to Windows and the programs.

Getting started with nivio is as simple as signing up and firing up the Windows desktop. Inside a browser this presents a full Windows installation that works well. The service is still in beta and is not the fastest access possible, but it is quite workable.

The Windows desktop is very locked down as expected, with limited access to system utilities. The setup is already optimized for remote access so that is not a problem. Internet Explorer is available for full web browsing, although the connectivity is not very fast.

Where nivio shines is in the nApps utility on the desktop that provides access to third party Windows apps. MS Office is already available in a 60-day free trial due to the beta, and other apps are a simple tap away. Due to the remote installation tapping to install a program makes it instantly available with no time spent for the install.

It is clear the nivio service is still in beta as not everything works smoothly. The Google Chrome browser has a lot of problems and crashes every time I try to use it. I expect that will be addressed by nivio. Firefox works as expected, however, and is a nice addition to the remote Windows desktop.

The MS Office apps work well, and coupled with the nDrive cloud storage provided (10 GB) make for a good solution for those needing access to them. I tested Word, Excel, and Powerpoint with no issues, and execution was fluid and quick. All nivio apps I tested work flawlessly with a Bluetooth keyboard on the iPad.

The nDrive storage can be configured to sync with local files and folders for use in nivio. The syncing happens automatically and instantly, providing access to local files within the remote desktop environment.

The nivio beta program requires acceptance by the developers, but once signed up immediate access is available. The service is definitely in beta, but works well overall. It is worth checking out for those wanting remote access to Windows from the iPad or Android tablets. Pricing for app rental has not been disclosed yet.

The nivio folks have produced a video showing how to get started using the many features of the service.

The nivio service joins OnLive Desktop for remote Windows access with no local Windows installation required. The recently updated CloudOn service provides remote access from an iPad to a MS Office suite without full Windows for those only needing those programs. Spashtop and LogMeIn are options that allow remote access to a user's local computer from the iPad, for those wanting full control over the operation.

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