In our previous article on general concepts of virtualization we learned that we could run a non-Android application in an Android environment by using a tool that would provide virtualization whereby it would wrap itself around the non-Android app so that the app would remain oblivious to the actual environment and, at the same time, it would mimic characteristics of an Android app on behalf of the concealed app in such a way that the host Android would think it was interacting with an Android-compatible application. Today we will talk about a particular virtualization tool for Android that plays such a middle-man role and handles all dirt of cross-platform incompatibilities between Android and Windows – OnLive Desktop, developed by OnLive.
If it was only a matter of virtualization, we could have delved into details of OnLive Desktop right now but the maker of this application combined two powerful technologies; virtualization and cloud computing. So, before gaining momentum in our talk on the app, we need to spend some moments on cloud computing.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the use of remote computing resources (hardware and software) as services delivered over the Internet to the subscribers. The name comes from the use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure of the system. Among 3 available types of services delivered by the cloud the type most relevant to our discussion is SaaS (software as a service).
In the case of SaaS users are provided access to applications and disk space. The cloud provider owns and manages all the infrastructural complexities. The cloud provider usually charges subscription fees. Let’s think about the implication it has for an organization with many employees. For a new employee his/her new computer needs not have all software programs required in the organization. Nor does the Management have to worry about purchasing new licenses. Only a client program to the cloud provider’s network will suffice because, instead of installing a suite of software for each new computer, you’d only have to install one client application. That application would allow workers to log in and seek SaaS facilities. Another good aspect of cloud computing is workload. Client computers no longer have to do all the heavy computation when it comes to running applications because the cloud handles them instead.
OnLive Desktop Overview
OnLive has a cloud that can operate apps on your device as quickly and responsively as if the apps running in the cloud were actually running on your local Android device. The cloud works so fast that you won’t notice that the app isn’t running locally. OnLive Desktop is a client app that Android users can install on their devices and connect to the OnLive cloud for SaaS. The app allows you to combine the touch gestures of a tablet with an on-screen Windows keyboard and handwriting recognition. That lets you conveniently edit documents with the same efficiency as if you were editing them on a PC. Let’s think about what is happening here! You – an Android user – do not own a desktop but the cloud is acting like a desktop with all the Windows applications you want for you. As you run various Windows programs in order to work with Office documents, PDF, etc. your Android device is not taking the computational load; the cloud takes. And finally, because of the touch-screen feature of your device, you are interacting with Windows applications in ways that you otherwise would not if you had a desktop.
Various types of paid-subscription plans are offered as well as a free option. The free option includes
1. Access to multi-touch OnLive Desktop
2. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe Reader
3. 2 GB of secure cloud storage
How to Use OnLive Desktop
1. Visit desktop.onlive.com and sign up for a free account. With every account, users get 2GB of free cloud storage – plenty if you’re mostly planning to use the app for Office docs.
2. Download the app for free from the vendor website or Google Play and install it.
3. Enter your username and password to log in.
4. After you log in, Windows virtual appears. You can see various icons and shortcuts
5. On the rightmost column of icons, you’ll see Documents, Windows Touch Pack and Samples. Documents get synchronized with your account on the web, where you’ll find a File Manager for uploading your documents.
6. On the OnLive website you can perform account management activities if necessary.
7. There you also can upgrade your account to paid subscription by selecting a plan of your choice for more SaaS facilities.
8. Please see the 3 pictures below to visualize OnLive Desktop.
OnLive Desktop has been tested on the following devices as of now.
Tablets (Android 3.2 or higher)
Acer, Iconia Tab A500 , Liquid Metal
ASUS, Eee Pad Transformer
Google, Nexus 7
HTC, Evo View 4G , Flyer , Jetstream
Samsung, Galaxy Tab 8.9 , 10.1
Sony, Tablet S
Smart Phones (Android 4.0 or higher)
Google, Galaxy Nexus
HTC, Desire , Droid Incredible , Evo , Evo 3D , Evo 4G , G2 , Google Nexus One , Rezound , Sensation , Sensation 4G , Sensation XL , Thunderbolt
LG, Optimus 2X
Motorola, Atrix 4 , Droid Bionic , Droid Razr , Droid 2 , Droid X2 , Photon 4G
Samsung, Galaxy Nexus , Galaxy S , Galaxy S II
Sony Ericsson, Xperia PLAY
The title picture showing the all familiar Windows logo as well as equally familiar application icons pertaining to the Microsoft Office Suite says a lot. OnLive exemplifies that in the realm of Android we are welcome even if we want to run Windows applications in it.