Mobile apps that let you remotely control your desktop computer are a dime a dozen. LogMeIn, TeamViewer, GoToMyPC, and Wyse PocketCloud are just a few of the remote desktop apps available for iOS and Android.

But OnLive is taking things a step further with OnLive Desktop, by letting you login to a remote Windows computer and run Windows apps without installing anything on your PC or leaving it turned on and connected to the internet.

OnLive Desktop

OnLive already offers a service that lets you stream console-quality video games to a mobile device over the internet. Basically your PS3, Xbox 360, or other game starts up on a remote server while you use your mobile device to view the action and act as a game controller.

The OnLive Desktop service works much the same way, but instead of a gaming console, there’s a PC at the other end of the line — or more likely a virtualized Windows environment hosted on a web server.

This lets you access Microsoft Office, surf the web using a desktop web browser, or run other apps on an iPad or tablet running Android 2.3 or later. All you need is an internet connection.

OnLive provides its basic service for free and also gives users 2GB of disk space so you can shoot files to your account from your tablet, edit them in Office, and then send them back to your device or forward them on to your boss, a client, or someone else via email.

The company also offers a $4.99 premium service called OnLive Desktop Plus with faster web browser access, integration with Dropbox and other third party storage services, and a few other premium features.

If you like the idea of running Windows apps on a non-Windows tablet, but don’t feel like leaving your desktop PC on all the time just so you can log into it from time to time, OnLive Desktop sounds like an interesting alternative.

Update: It looks like OnLive didn’t get permission from Microsoft before launching a service that lets you remotely connect to computers running Windows licenses and Microsoft apps including MS Office. That could lead to problems for the service unless OnLive and Microsoft reach some sort of agreement.

Update 2: Crisis averted. OnLive is now using Windows Server 2008.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...