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How to Get a Free Windows Desktop with Microsoft Office on Your iPad

I’ve been using my iPad 2 more and more and I was intrigued to see that there is a free app that gives you an online virtual Windows desktop with Microsoft Office 2010 on it. I have tried it out and here are some things I found.

The app is OnLive Desktop and it can be downloaded at the iTunes App Store. The app is free but you will need to set up an account to use it. The link for creating an account is here. One part of the signup that may annoy some is the request for your birth date and you must be over 18.

With the app you can access an online Windows 7 virtual machine from your iPad or iPad 2. You will see a regular Windows 7 desktop with full versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint applications. An example is shown in the figure below. Notepad, Paint, Windows Media Player, Calculator, and a few other applications are also available but the main purpose of the app is to work on Office documents. You cannot install any new applications.

The virtual Windows desktop is touch-sensitive and it turns out to be easier than you might think to navigate around the Office commands by touch. Of course, you need a keyboard to prepare documents and there is an on-screen keyboard with the app. It is smaller than the regular iPad onscreen keyboard and I found the keys to be too small for much typing. Anybody who wanted to do much work would want an external keyboard.

A reasonably fast Internet connection is necessary to use the app. The vendor says at least 1 Mbps but you’ll be happier with 2 Mbps. Cloud storage of 2 GB is provided free and the app automatically syncs with files placed there. You can upload, download, or delete files stored in the cloud space by signing in from any computer.

There are other online office suites (see here) but this is one that iPad users might want to look at. It isn't perfect but it has the virtue of providing full Microsoft Office applications in an environment familiar to those used to Windows.

At this time the app is available only in North America and the UK.

Added 3/8/2012- It seems that Microsoft may now be claiming that their licensing is violated. The situation is unclear at this time.

Windows desktop on the iPad

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's and tutorials, including  a computer education website and a site for learning about the command line.

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by glofp-dk (not verified) on 5. February 2012 - 8:31  (88330)

Great apps, it looks by the article,BUT - trying to download it (after registering) I get this message:

Your request could not be completed.
The item you've requested is not currently available in the Dansk Store.

:-( :-(

Whyt the h*** is this not avaible in all countries, AND - please mention such a imporent thing in futured articles. I'm m mad mad SAD, I was really looking forereward.
Ole (DK)

by v.laurie on 5. February 2012 - 14:57  (88349)

You are right to be annoyed. It is only available in North America and the UK. I should have noted that and I have made a correction to the article. I apologize for the omission of this important information.