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January 10, 2012 at 8:51 AM

CES 2012: Windows on iPad? Kind of …

LAS VEGAS — If you’re looking to run Windows 7 on your iPad, the OnLive gaming service has a new option.

The company — which provides online access to console-grade games — is using its technology to provide online access to a Windows desktop and Office apps, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

OnLive is offering free access to the virtual Windows desktop, and up to 2 gigabytes of online storage for files. But access to the service may be limited at times, and customers will have to pay for priority access to the service and additional storage.

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“OnLive Desktop is the first app to deliver a no-compromise, media-rich Windows desktop experience to iPad, opening up powerful new possibilities for consumers and businesses,” OnLive founder Steve Perlman said in a release. “iPad users will now be able to simply and securely view and edit cloud-hosted documents with full-featured Windows desktop applications like Microsoft Office, just as if they were using a local high-performance PC.”

Perlman’s name may sound familiar. The San Francisco-based entrepreneur had his first huge hit selling WebTV to Microsoft, and then sold his Moxi set-top box business to Paul Allen.

Microsoft also offers ways to access its productivity apps from the browser on tablets and other devices, but it doesn’t yet offer Office apps via Apple’s app store, which is how OnLive will be offering its desktop service starting Thursday.

Coming later will be a “pro” version with 50 gigabytes of storage and priority access to the system for $9.99 a month. OnLive also is planning to offer an enterprise version to large companies.

Through a spokesman Perlman answered a few questions about the new product:

Q: What availability is expected for the free version — meaning what percentage of the day and week will it be freely accessible?

A: We won’t really know until the service goes live and usage patterns stabilize. We’ll do our best to load-balance to allow the maximum number of free users we can, but of course, when something is free, there can be peaks where, effectively, an infinite number of users are trying to use a finite number of servers. We just want to be open with people that, for the free service, we can’t guarantee 100 percent accessibility.

Q: How will users access files created in OnLive from devices other than the iPad?

A: Files you put in your Documents folder in OnLive Desktop are accessible through any Web browser at files.onlive.com, much like the Web access to services like Dropbox.

Q: How is OnLive licensing the Microsoft apps? Is it paying per concurrent user?

A: We have standard licenses from Microsoft and Microsoft resellers that other remote desktop services and large enterprises have.

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