Here is some unexpected news from CES: OnLive, the company best known for streaming video games over the Internet, just announced that it will release a new iPad app later this week that will give users access to a virtual Windows 7 desktop with access to Word, PowerPoint and Excel, as well a browser (which we assume will be Internet Explorer). The free app will offer 2GB of storage. OnLive also plans to launch a pro version for $9.99 per month with 50GB of cloud storage. According to PC Magazine, the company also plans to launch an enterprise version in the future that will allow customers to run their own applications.
Given that OnLive generally pushes for more graphically demanding content through its network, running Windows 7 should prove to be rather easy for the company's engineers. The app will officially launch on Thursday, though sign-ups will launch later today.
OnLive already has some experience with the iPad, thanks to its OnLive Viewer app, which allows you to watch games others are playing on the service. OnLive full gaming app, though, is currently only available on Android, but the iPad version should launch soon as well.
How Useful is a Windows 7 Desktop on an iPad?
It'll be interesting to see how much demand there is for a service like this beyond the first surge of people who will inevitably just want to try the app for the sake of it. Given that the latest versions of Microsoft Office allow users to save their content to Microsoft's own LiveDrive service, moving data in and out of the virtual Windows 7 instance should be easy. It's not clear how much else you can do with the app beyond editing office documents, though, and given that you can already edit office documents with the help of iPad apps like CloudOn, it remains to be seen how useful this service will be for mainstream users, especially given that Windows 7 isn't exactly optimized for tablet use.