February 07, 2012, 6:11 AM — Demos, like appearances, can be deceiving. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show, one of the media hits was OnLive Desktop, a service that provisions a Windows 7 desktop environment that includes Microsoft Office 2010 to the iPad over an Internet connection. For many, the idea of being able to run the full Office suite is very appealing, given some of the limitations of the iPad's native office productivity tools such as Apple iWork suite (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers), Quickoffice, and Documents to Go.
But the reality of OnLive Desktop is awful. Yes, you get the full Windows 7 desktop and the full Word, PowerPoint, and Excel applications. But a surprising lack of integration means the Windows and iPad environments remain almost completely separate, with usability falling through the cracks.
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The remote desktop never felt so remote. You can't copy and paste text or images between Windows and iOS, or even upload files to your OnLive Desktop from the iPad. You lose your session if you switch to another iPad application. In-progress work is saved to temp files in your OnLive cloud-based account folder, where all your files are stored, so at least you don't lose those efforts. But leaving OnLive Desktop to, say, check your email requires logging into OnLive Desktop again and reopening the file when you return.