Although admittedly my first thought upon reading about this new OnLive Desktop service that brings Windows to the iPad was something along the lines of “Who would actually want this???”, I do have to admit that it really is pretty neat technology that’s making it all happen. It boasts gigabit Internet speeds and the ability to finally view Flash on iOS, in addition to all of the popular MS Office apps that you’re used to running at the office, and the way it does all of this is not so much by actually running all of this directly on the iPad itself, but instead by giving you an app that essentially makes a remote desktop connection to a Windows machine somewhere else doing all of the real work.
Now at a mere $5/month, I’m not sure how they’re handling the licensing aspect of this, but basically OnLive has a giant server farm somewhere connected to a massive internet pipe, so all your own connect needs to handle is a video stream of your virtual desktop far, far away in server land – the actual super-fast data transfer from the Internet to your Windows desktop all takes place on their end. Same goes for any native-Windows apps that you may want to run – everything takes place in lala land, you get to run whatever your heart desires on your iPad, and through it all iOS is none the wiser!
It’s another interesting step in the direction of cloud computing, this time off-loading not only your data but nearly the entire computer to the cloud, accessible via a (relatively) thin and inexpensive front end. And granted, I’ll still be a little curious to see if it actually goes anywhere simply because as iOS and Android become more prevalent, I think Windows itself is continuing to slip, but it’s still a neat direction for computers in general to be taking. 8)