OnLive is Dead, Long Live OnLive

OnLive is Dead, Long Live OnLive

Aug 20, 2012

On Friday August 17th, the future of OnLive was so murky, that even Schrodinger himself was confused as to what was going on. Reports had surfaced that OnLive was shutting down, or was staying open, and that the employees were fired, or were going to be rehired. Basically, it was one giant confusing mess. Here’s the seeming fallout:

OnLive as it stands will continue to exist. This includes both the gaming service and OnLive Desktop. There should be no service interruptions. However, the assets are being sold to a new investor that will take charge of the company, and all the employees have been laid off, and their stock devalued. However, some employees will be brought in to the new company, which will still be OnLive, either as re-hires or as consultants with potential for stock options.

It does seem that as OnLive transitions, product upgrades may be delayed or shuttered entirely. So for those waiting on the ability to run their own applications on OnLive Desktop‘s upcoming $9.99 per month plan, keep waiting.

Actually, there’s a good chance that no one at all is waiting, because part of the reason for OnLive’s financial troubles has been a lack of users, seemingly only 1600 regular users, with 8000 total servers available, which is not a combination for profitability.

OnLive is still running sales, their promotions to preorder new games, and giveaways such as Zeno Clash and SpaceChem in recent weeks, but as to how long they will keep going? Who knows. With competitor Gaikai having been bought out recently for a huge sum by Sony, it stands to reason that with OnLive’s technology already deployed at a consumer level, there could be brighter financial days ahead if the new ownership can right things. But what that will mean for those that have bought games on OnLive in the long term is still sketchy.

But for now, while there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes turmoil, there’s still games to be played and computers to be used through OnLive’s Android apps.

OnLive Desktop Now Legal. Wait, It Was Illegal? Apparently So.

OnLive Desktop Now Legal. Wait, It Was Illegal? Apparently So.

Apr 11, 2012

One of the concerns so far with OnLive Desktop has actually been with the legality of the service. Apparently in offering a virtual Windows 7 desktop to users, OnLive did not consider the licensing issues. Microsoft even said that they would have to license each individual user of the service if they kept using Windows 7. Well, OnLive has responded by changing the backend of Windows that they’re using, shifting to Windows Server 2008 for the Windows software powering OnLive Desktop instead of the Windows 7 tablet interface.

Aesthetically, everything is the same, but two changes come from this. One: the simulated touch scrolling that could be used in the web browser is now gone, so finger scrolling of scroll bars is now widely in use. This is a problem for iPad users, but Android users who can use a mouse might be better off. Second, the software keyboard has been replaced with a new custom one that apes the design of the iPad keyboard. This is actually a slight improvement, though typing on a software keyboard with input lag is not a very good solution. Still, many of the natural issues that arise from using desktop keyboard and mouse emulation on a touch screen will always remain because of the different input needs between platforms. This likely will not affect serious users of the service, especially on Android where mouse control was possible. In fact, if they integrated with system functions like the mouse and used the Android device’s keyboard, usability could be dramatically improved.

There are connections between the head of OnLive and the Windows team as Brian Madden notes in his post here, but it appears as if those weren’t enough to keep the OnLive Desktop product exactly as it was initially offered, and it is to users’ detriment. Madden also notes that Microsoft’s licensing is not conducive to virtual computing. While tablets are not the same as desktop computers, and should not be treated the same, virtualization could be the key to making tablets more capable devices. It just may take some work on Microsoft’s end to make this more of a possibility.

OnLive Desktop Makes the Jump to Android

OnLive Desktop Makes the Jump to Android

Mar 2, 2012

OnLive has brought their previously-iPad-only remote desktop service OnLive Desktop to Android. Similar to the iPad version, this lets Android tablets connect to a Windows-powered desktop replete with Microsoft Office application like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint available. As well, there’s the option to subscribe to OnLive Desktop Plus to gain access to a Flash-powered web browser. This works basically identical to the iPad version, with the difference being that it supports a 1280×720 widescreen resolution. Otherwise, it works similarly, with the same access to files when logged in from any other platform.

While having access to a Flash-based browser is less of a concern on Android where mobile Flash is still available, there are two potential applications. One, the browser streaming is fast enough watching Flash video – including free Hulu. They still haven’t caught on to OnLive Desktop. It also appears to be based in LA, based on the KABC logo that appears on Hulu videos. MLB.TV subscriber who’s not a fan of a team in the LA blackout area? Here’s a solution! Second, with mobile Flash development ended, this may be a superior long-term option for those users.

The widescreen resolution does help to make the keyboard a little bit more usable, but it’s still a lot better with an external keyboard. This may be better as a remote dekstop solution than the iPad, because of one great thing: mouse support. While hovering over items and right-clicking doesn’t entirely work perfectly just because of the fact that it is emulating touch, not operating as an actual mouse, but it still helps out greatly when trying to operate a desktop computer on a tablet. Grab a USB host cable, a travel-size mouse, and an external keyboard, and here’s a potential laptop replacement.

Otherwise, my 148Apps review covers all the ups and downs about the Plus service. Buying the service can still only be done via the website, and the Pro service that allows for user apps to be installed is still yet unavailable, and subscriptions must be signed up for through the website, not anywhere in the app at all. OnLive Desktop is now available from the Android Market.