After bringing Windows 7 and Office applications to the iPad via its Desktop App during CES last month, OnLive is already adding Adobe Flash Player, Reader and full-featured Internet Explorer to its cloud-based offering for a new paid tier of service, OnLive Desktop Plus.
Love it or hate it, Adobe Flash is still widely used on the Internet -- for games, annoying ads, videos, multimedia websites, to name a few -- so the lack of Flash support on iOS devices is a major reason some consumers avoid the iPad. But what if there is a way to add Flash functionality to the iPad without bogging down its performance or having to purchase an iPad-wannabe? OnLive is betting that users would be willing to pay $4.99 a month for that privilege with OnLive Desktop Plus. Not only do paying customers get to use cloud-based Office applications like Word and Excel and 2GB of storage available to free users, they also get to access their webmail accounts (Yahoo Mail, Exchange) and file storage sites like Dropbox with Internet Explorer; get priority access to the OnLive pipes for file uploads/downloads at "gigabit-speed"; as well as turn their iPads into Flash-playing and PDF-reading machines.
Non-paying users on the OnLive Desktop Standard service will be getting Adobe Reader rather than Flash, on top of access to the usual lineup of Windows 7 applications and 2 GB of cloud storage. While the company will be prioritizing server traffic for its paying customers, its "patented instant-action cloud gaming technology" means it is capable of providing a latency-free experience to remotely served software even for Desktop Standard users. Of course, actual experience will depend on the server load at the time of use, physical proximity to OnLive's servers as well as the speed of your Internet connection (2 Mbps and up is recommended). James Kendrick over at Mobile News is already reporting blazingly fast speeds in his test of the newly launched service, though New York Times' David Pogue finds the lag when handwriting and painting "painful."
(The free Onlive Desktop app recognizes multi-touch, pen input via a stylus as well as Bluetooth keyboards. To access the OnLive Desktop service, all American users must download and install the app via iTunes App Store, as well as sign-up for an OnLive Desktop account on its website.)
Android users will have to wait some more for the Onlive Desktop service and app to come to their tablets and smartphones, which the company promises will happen some time this year. Considering the fact most Android tablets already support Flash out-of-box, OnLive Desktop Plus won't be as much of a draw for its Flash Player as it offers a backdoor way to have the best of both the Windows and Android worlds without the mess of dual-booting OSes. With Windows 8 literally on the horizon (preview is next week), IMHO the OnLive Desktop provides an easy "tweener" solution for those who need Windows functionality on their Android or iPad now but are really biding their time until a true Windows 8 tablet lands.
What do you think?
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