Is it a Mac? Is it a PC? It’s Virtualization!
In 2014 on Tech Fridays, we looked at virtualization software that allows you to run multiple operating systems on one desktop or laptop. In a repost of the second article in this series, we covered the concept and the software packages of Parallels and VMWare. Today we discuss the move to mobile devices and how virtualization software can run Microsoft Office apps on your shiny new iPad. If you have been carrying around your laptop for your charity’s business and your iPad for your personal time, you could leave that laptop on your next trip!
VMWare and Parallels offer mobile apps to tap into the traditional desktop/laptop packages we introduced in previous weeks. Along with those we take a look at OnLive, which is expressly designed to make MS Office apps easily accessible on your tablet. Let’s watch them in action.
The reason ‘running’ is in quotes is because Apple’s iOS (the operating system on its mobile devices) will not allow direct installation of other OSes. What Parallels, VMWare, and OnLive are doing is controlling your laptop or desktop that has the full virtualization package and the full Windows install. Your iPad becomes, in essence, a client or remote control for that computer. And as you saw in the video above, that remote control of a virtual machine can have its hiccups.
Our next video gives us a review of VMWare’s client software. Again, the reviewer points out that what really drives the experience is the networking speed, not so much the tablet you are using (so owners of the original iPad need not be scared off from this technology, though the dual-core iPad 2 and newer offer a more seamless Mac-to-Windows environment).
Last but not least, OnLive offers a free app that focuses on the Windows environment and Office on the iPad. The company began by developing online and streaming games, so it brings a great deal of know-how to the technology required to put Windows on your svelte iPad. What might make the OnLive app especially attractive is that you are running Windows from the company’s servers, not from your own PC.
We intentionally brought you people using and reviewing these packages, rather than demo videos from the companies, because we wanted to give voice to the fact that at least two these packages need a pretty quick networking environment and a desktop/laptop that have the full virtualization app running. The third requires a subscription, but not a licensed copy of Windows on your computer somewhere. Such concerns/limits might make the process of getting Word on your iPad seem a bit daunting.
Nevertheless, the opportunities such flexibility allows would far outweigh the initial challenges. Windows boxes still hold the advantage of market share in the (small-)business and nonprofit worlds, but Apple is far-and-away the most successful in the mobile world. Any of these three packages would bring those worlds together, making the iPad a meaningful business tool for the nonprofit’s fieldworkers who also must manipulate the Excel spreadsheet or adjust the PowerPoint presentation while on the move.