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.