OnLive has a very impressive service. For a nominal fee you can stream a complete Windows 7 desktop–with Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and even Adobe Flash–right to your iPad or Android tablet. The service is different than a remote desktop connection back to your own Windows 7 PC somewhere because this is a Windows 7 virtual desktop hosted from the cloud.
If that scenario seems too good to be true, perhaps it’s because it is. It turns out there may be some issues of legality and software licensing when it comes to sharing a Windows 7 environment from the cloud.
Joe Matz, corporate vice president of worldwide Licensing and pricing at Microsoft, explains in a blog post:
“Customers that want to work with partners to have them host Windows 7 in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solution on their behalf, can do so when the customer provides the partner licenses through the customer’s own agreements with Microsoft. The hosting hardware must be dedicated to, and for the benefit of the customer, and may not be shared by or with any other customers of that partner.”
What that means is that OnLive *can* provide a virtual Windows 7 desktop for customers, but only if those customers have acquired all of the appropriate Windows and Microsoft Office software licenses, and only if OnLive hosts it from hardware specifically dedicated to that client.
Something tells me that following the rules might make the service significantly more expensive and less appealing.