What if You Could Use Windows on Your iPad?
Small businesses who haven’t yet integrated iPads or iPhones typically have one main excuse. They’ve got tons of experience with Windows and don’t want to spend the time and money to learn a new system like iOS. I sympathize; for the first month I used my iPad, I still kept a barely-functioning laptop around, just in case. But getting an iPad does not mean you absolutely have to use only iOS and leave all your Microsoft training behind. If you’re willing to invest just a little time learning touchscreen navigation, you can easily use Windows on your iPad.
There’s an App for That – Several, Actually
While Apple has developed a whole series of Office Apps meant to replace MS Office (Numbers, Keynote, and Pages), several companies have developed Apps that beam a Windows desktop straight to your iPad. You can use Microsoft Office, an email program of your choice, and even manage and transfer photos or other files. Here are the Apps I have used to virtualize Windows on my iPad.
- PocketCloud Pro
- Onlive Desktop
PocketCloud is a hybrid of remote desktop and cloud file storage. You can use it to access your home or work PC (client software needed, of course), and you also need a Google account. PocketCloud gives you remote access to your powered-on, internet-connected PC. Its file browser is something to be praised – it’s tablet optimized and easy to use. I give PocketCloud a lot of credit for their in-app file browser because Windows Explorer is often slow and ill-suited for an iPad. PocketCloud gives you the best of nearly every approach – cloud storage, tablet optimization, and familiar desktop. If you want Windows on your iPad, you’d be hard pressed to find a better all-around app than PocketCloud.
Pros: Gives free cloud storage and access to personal desktop, easy to use, pretty fast and responsive.
Cons: Pro version is $14.99 – a little steep for an App, Free version is littered with ads that pop up during the worst times, requires PC client.
Onlive Desktop takes the least amount of work because it doesn’t connect to your home or work computer. Instead, it connects to a computer in Onlive’s cloud. In Onlive Desktop, you have access to the latest Microsoft Office Suite, and a computer running Windows 7. The controls are a little different since you’re using a touchscreen, but the virtual mouse is pretty easy to understand with a little practice. Any files you create with Onlive Desktop are stored to a cloud which is accessible from your tablet, smartphone, and of course, desktop PC. The Onlive Desktop App is free, as well as the basic PC with 2GB of cloud storage. There are a few subscription plans available, which you can read about here. I’ve never used the app with subscription plans, so check other reviews before you subscribe.
Pros: No need for client PC software, files accessible from multiple devices, cloud computers are reliable and well-kept. Biggest Pro: It’s free!
Cons: Pretty much unusable on public wifi (the connection gets pretty laggy and frequently drops altogether), even on a solo wifi connection there is a noticeable gap in response.
LogMeIn is also free, and provides wifi access to your home or work PC using the “Windows Remote Desktop” protocol. LogMeIn has been in the Remote Desktop business since 2003, and their experience shines through in the iPad app. They deliver Windows on your iPad along with an intuitive and easy-to-use interface that allows for more typical mouse functions like right-clicking. As long as you’re on a solid connection, it’s pretty responsive, but will obviously suffer from a heavy-traffic wifi like Starbucks (this might change when Google overhauls their system, but we’ll see).
Though I’ve had the App get really laggy, I’ve never had it disconnect completely like I have with Onlive Desktop. It does require you to download client software for your PC, but it is free, and generally stays out of the way. LogMeIn also has a subscription option, and the App gives you a 30-day trial. This allows you to do file browsing and transfers. I found this somewhat useful during my transition phase when I needed to transfer files while “on the road.” While I haven’t found a need to get the subscription, you may want to consider it if you’ll need to do a lot of wireless file transfers between your tablet and PC.
Pros: Connects to your home PC, so the commands, programs, files, and environment are all familiar. Connection is very smooth on reliable wifi.
Cons: File Transfer requires a paid subscription after 30 days, you must install a desktop client.
There are a bunch of other Apps that will help you get Windows on your iPad. I stuck to the ones that I’ve used and that seem the easiest to set up. Whether you’re looking for access to your home/work files on the go, or simply want to use an interface you’re familiar with, these Apps can help you. If you’re looking for an easy way to get a return-on-investment for iPads. If mobilizing your workforce (or yourself) is on your to-do list, don’t let fear get in your way.
Do you have a favorite App for getting Windows on your iPad that I didn’t list here? Leave it in the comments, or email me (editor[at]iPad4Life[dot]net), and I’ll check it out. Remember: tools are only as good if they’re being used.