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Streamed desktops a new driver for broadband speeds?
Friday 16 March 2012 14:28:33 by Andrew Ferguson

Perhaps the days of lugging a laptop around with all the company data on it are coming to an end? OnLive Desktop represents an extension of the game streaming service, which offers users access to a Windows desktop even though they are using an iPad or Android tablet.

Alas the service has not been launched in the UK yet, and seems to be in trouble over licensing for Microsoft Windows. The app where available can be used for free offering 2GB of cloud storage, enough for most documents and spreadsheets, paid for upgrades give access to more online storage and faster access to the virtual desktops.

Of course all this comes at the expense of using more data from a broadband services usage allowance, but with desktops generally offering a more static image than a game, it is likely to not be as bandwidth hungry as the Onlive game streaming service.

Here is the problem though, cloud computing while offering the ability to work on various platforms without having to carry them around, does rely on having good connectivity. For those who have been asking why should the UK spend money on getting superfast broadband to as much of the UK as possible, and a ubiquitous 4G network, OnLive Desktop is one example of something that is relevant to businesses and demonstrates more of a need than being able to watch catch-up TV anywhere.


Posted by ian72 over 5 years ago
But this is essentially just thin client technology which businesses have been using for years (even on dial up). OnLive needs more bandwidth because it is live video which requires fast gaming response - using word/excel/etc don't require such immediate updates to be usable.
Posted by Apilar over 5 years ago
Not available in the UK App Store.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@ian72 It is kinda interesting to see the thin client/fat client cycle looping.

Posted by Yorkie71 over 5 years ago
Interesting how things have gone full circle. It's sort of returned to the "dumb terminal" scenario with the old mainframes of years gone by.

Connectivity is the key here though. Once that is sorted (hmmm yes, we are waiting), this sort of service will flourish I'm sure.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
RDC has been around for years and works on slow connections. We use it all the time at our office. Three people controlling PCs in Minneapolis over a 4Mb/s ADSL link.
Posted by awoodland over 5 years ago
if Citrix had had a hard time selling this to users on campuses OnLive are going to have an impossible time.
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
There's clearly a case for as much as possible of the UK getting superfast broadband, and this should be done by the users of these services paying for it.
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
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Posted by awoodland over 5 years ago
Memo to self: never buy anything from Ericom - they spam news stories with virtually no relevance.
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
There's spam from Ericom on the linked "Windows licensing" story as well.

Quite why any sensible non-MS-dependent person or organisation would see Windows/RDP as a must-have requirement, now that tablets and iDevices have shown that life in general (and remote office work in particular) can often continue without Microsoft, is a different question.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
How do you configure the cloud that the iDevice depends on? Answer - you RDP into the servers. So yes - for an organisation RDP is essential at least for the IT staff and probably for a lot of the engineers.

Luckily as I noted RDP is not a bandwidth heavy application. Half a megabit is ample.
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
"Answer - you RDP into the servers. "

Assuming, as I said earlier, the organisation is MS-dependent - for servers and remote access as well as for desktops.

After all, no one ever uses any VNC family member (or derivative) for remote access to Window boxes as well as other non-MS stuff.

Half a megabit may be ample for RDP (or VNC). Nice upstream speed. The 4Mb you mentioned earlier is presumably downstream. For remote access, upstream is often going to be the limiting factor.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
I'll throw this out there, people are talking about RDP etc, which assumes you have a physical server somewhere or at least a virtual.

OnLive Desktop means you only need to have your data somewhere, no need to spend time on the updating of OS, AV, Firewall etc.

Or another way, if for 90% of the week, your tablet is enough, you can avoid spending on a laptop for the occassional word/excel session.
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
Quite so, Andrew.

For those of us that remember "what Metronet's founders did next" (after the Plusnet takeover), it is similar in concept to Desktop on Demand (see also eweDrive). Both sadly RIP, perhaps partly because they didn't use Windows and RDP, and they were before "the cloud" was hip.

"you can avoid spending on a laptop for the occassional word/excel session. "

Well you can certainly avoid routinely lugging a laptop around. Being completely without may be a different matter.

You can see why IT types might not like the idea. Estate/budget at risk.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@c_j:By 'RDP' I mean the variety of different technologies, not just the Microsoft version so that would include UNC/VNC. RDP demands on upstream are not severe at all. Our office is on ADSL and the upstream is only 1.5Mb/s. I use RDP to telecommute and my home line only has 1Mb/s upload.

The only thing RDP has difficulty with is graphics but most office workers and IT staff don't 'do' graphics.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago

Lots of choice and I bet all of them will work just fine with a half megabit connection as long as you aren't doing graphical work.

There are advantages to the cloud but it's just a more complicated and slightly more flexible version of what's been around for years.
Posted by psdie over 5 years ago
@AndrueC: "By 'RDP' I mean the variety of different technologies, not just the Microsoft version so that would include UNC/VNC."

Then that word doesn't mean what you think it means, as they say ;) RDP = Remote Desktop Protocol, a proprietary MS tech - see Wikipedia et al.
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