LAS VEGAS -- OnLive is better known for its cloud gaming platform, but today at CES 2012, the company unveiled something rather unexpected: the OnLive Desktop app for iOS, which leverages the company's instant-action cloud computing platform to let you get a full Windows desktop experience right on your iPad. Now you can make use of natural multitouch gestures on Apple's slate to manipulate full Windows desktop applications like Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel and PowerPoint), as well as rich media like HD videos and PC games.
Designed to work as if you were on a local desktop, OnLive has taken extra measures to ensure that videos, slide transitions and PC games run smoothly and seamlessly on the app. Typically in the past, such animations have been clunky and stuttered frequently on remote desktops.
After downloading the app, OnLive sets you up with 2 GB of secure cloud storage and a cloud-based Windows 7 desktop pre-populated with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. (You get a number of touch games and utilities, too, aside from Microsoft's productivity apps.) The desktop responds to your touches whichever way you choose to interact with your tablet's screen—pinch and zoom, flick and scroll, drag and drop—any gesture that feels natural on the iPad should also work well on OnLive's interface.
The app's simulation of Microsoft Word even flaunts commenting capabilities, as well as the word processor's oft-unexploited feature of redline word strings. A full Windows touch-screen keyboard, integrated handwriting recognition within the app or a Bluetooth keyboard all work for input on Word for OnLive. On PowerPoint, presentations can be created with rich graphics, videos and animated slide transitions. And naturally, the Excel app allows you to grapple with graphs and data. All these Office apps can be opened, edited, saved and stored securely in the cloud for future access from a simple Web interface.
Better yet, in addition to this first iPad app, OnLive Desktop is said to be arriving soon in Android, PC and Mac iterations. In time, you'll be able to access the same virtual OnLive Desktop you've created from any platform using a single, unified login.
If the idea of a true, "native" desktop experience on your iPad piques your interest, consider grabbing OnLive Desktop app for the iPad (free), which drops into the iTunes Store Thursday. For more information, head over to OnLive's official website for the app.