For the past six weeks or so, I have been testing a free program called OnLive Desktop. OnLive Desktop includes most of the features found with the Windows 7 OS, as well as complete versions of the popular Microsoft Office suite including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2010. That in itself wouldn’t be surprising if they were being used on a PC, but the fact is that this is designed for use on the Apple iPad. At this point, you may be asking yourself how you can save and print the information that you create. Well, saving is easy: The program provides, for free, 2 GB of cloud storage.

The only prerequisite for using OnLive Desktop is that, after the initial setup process, you must log onto its servers each time that you wish to access your account. This is what the login screen looks like. Note that an email address and password are needed.

Once accessed, you will find that the OnLive Desktop features a similar layout to the standard Windows 7 operating system including application icons on the desktop.

As with the regular Windows screen, you will need to allow it enough time to activate. Once the OnLive Desktop becomes active, you will notice some of the familiar Windows 7 features, such as:

  • The Start button will be located in the bottom left-hand corner
  • A Taskbar will appear with icons showing you which programs are currently being accessed.
  • The Recycle Bin will place its icon on your desktop for discarding unwanted files.
  • In addition, you will find icons for the complete versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint .

After taking note of these familiar friends, you can activate your menu options by pressing the Start button.

While all of this is recognizable and easy to use, what fascinated me was the ability to take advantage of the touch screen technology featured within the Apple iPad. This presented an easily navigated field with which to maneuver around the Windows 7 desktop and its features. What further intrigued me was that this same touch screen technology was built into Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. But the biggest surprise came when the programs worked without any hiccups or slowdowns. In fact, during the entire testing process, this virtual OnLive Desktop Windows-based program worked perfectly.

For its initial test, I tried using Microsoft Word; I created simple documents to experiment with for the purposes of this article.

As you can see, I saved the created documents to the My Documents folder.

To ascertain how I could get my OnLive document over to my work PC, I took it a step further. This step included first saving my document on the iPad. Then, using my Windows 7 laptop, I proceeded to open the OnLive Desktop website. On the site, I signed into my account, located the document I created, and opened the document in Word without an issue.

I believe that using OnLive Desktop has the following benefits:

  • If you use Word, you can upload a Word document to your Apple iPad (which requires a 4G or Wi-Fi connection), make changes to it, and then save the document in the cloud for later editing.
  • If you’re required to travel for business, this would be a space-saving alternative to a traditional laptop — especially if you are required to navigate and wait in busy airports.
  • Imagine creating an Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation on your iPad and downloading the project to your computer for presentation at a later date.

The one feature that was inconvenient to me was the size of the OnLive Desktop keyboard. Over all, it was too small to type on comfortably; however, my Bluetooth keyboard (which I prefer using) worked just fine using OnLive Desktop.

That is my basic take on the OnLive Desktop program that works on your iPad, but are there other choices available to take the place of Microsoft Word?

I located three such products that have high recommendations, by most users, and which you might wish to consider in lieu of OnLive Desktop.

Pages

Pages allows you to create letters, flyers, reports, and more right on your iPad. In addition, Pages saves your creations using iCloud and all of your iOS devices are then updated automatically. Another advantage is that Pages works on all of your Apple devices including your iPad, iPod, or iPhone.

Quickoffice

The advanced texting features of this application allows you to choose from various font styles and colors, thus giving you the ability to create colorful charts. Another advantage is that it allows you to preview all of your unique documents in full format mode.

Documents to Go

The last program that I would recommend is called Documents to Go. This program turns your Apple iPad into a powerful document creating and editing application that supports Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It also lets you avoid the hassle of using a file upload service since you can synchronize documents, meaning that you can transfer documents with ease between your computer and your iPad.

So while I would recommend these three additional programs, they are not free. You must pay to use them, whereas the basic version of OnLive Desktop is free. However, like with anything out there today, OnLive Desktop is currently in the process of creating both paid Pro and Enterprise versions of its software.

Though OnLive Desktop may not be perfect for everyone, for those of us who need to use Office, the program does work. What makes this program so attractive is the fact that it is free and comes with 2 GB of free storage. In addition, the program is very easy to use, extremely fast, and offers a full-featured version of Office. Plus, OnLive Desktop employs touch screen capability for both Windows 7 and for Office while remaining consistent with the ability to synchronize Apple products.

Comments welcome.