OnLive Gains Visibility in Licensing Tiff with Microsoft
If you want Windows 7 and Microsoft Office on your iPad, you can tap into OnLive Desktop. But not without drawing the ire of Microsoft.
OnLive Desktop has a video on its homepage that shows how you can access your Microsoft Office PC software and tap into a Windows 7 desktop using its iPad and Android apps. Of course, consumers need to subscribe to OnLive to tap into the service, which harnesses cloud computing to deliver the applications.
Although OnLive has a free edition, the version that hooks consumers up with Microsoft software is $4.99. And an enterprise version is coming to market soon. Now, Microsoft is accusing OnLive of violating its software licensing agreements.
"Some inquiries about these scenarios have been raised as a result of recent media coverage related to OnLive's Desktop and Desktop Plus services," Joe Matz, corporate vice president of Worldwide Licensing and Pricing at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. "Additionally, the analyst firm raised questions regarding the compliance of these services last week. We are actively engaged with OnLive with the hope of bringing them into a properly licensed scenario, and we are committed to seeing this issue is resolved."
OnLive is keeping the situation low key. Jane Anderson, an OnLive spokeswoman, said, "We have never commented on any licensing agreements."
Gartner Warns Enterprises
Gartner analysts Michael Silver, Federica Troni and Frances O'Brien commented on the desktop-as-a-service offering that gives users access to a virtual Windows desktop running Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer 9 with Flash and PDF support.
"OnLive's offering will likely be very appealing to consumers who want to replicate Microsoft Office's editing capabilities on their iPads. To date, Microsoft has only released versions of OneNote and Lync for the iPad, and nothing in the iPad App Store (such as Documents to Go, Quickoffice and iWork) offers full capabilities or perfect fidelity with Office," the three wrote.
But, as Matz noted, Gartner also pointed out licensing concerns. Gartner said using a Windows desktop through hosted virtual desktop requires careful licensing that often includes additional products, fees or Software Assurance.
"In Gartner's view, if Microsoft were to conclude that OnLive is misusing its products, Microsoft could potentially take action against OnLive that could affect OnLive's ability to service clients," the firm wrote. "Gartner believes that there's also a risk that Microsoft could hold both OnLive and its customers responsible for any potential mislicensing."
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, has been watching the row develop. OnLive believes it is within the multi-use agreement for Office. Bolstering its case, Citrix provides a similar service, though not as advanced as what OnLive has brought to market.
"Microsoft is undoubtedly developing their own version of Office for the iPad, or at least they were, out of the Apple Office group. Now Windows Office is showing up on the iPad," Enderle said.
"Microsoft is also trying to bring out its own tablet. One of the advantages of its own tablet is Office. If you look at the big problem with tablets right now, there really aren't any good productivity packs. Apple has the best right now with iWorks. You can see a certain amount of resistance on the Microsoft side to give away one of its biggest advantages accidentally through licensing."
On the other hand, Microsoft faces the challenge of potential antitrust talk if it pushes too hard against OnLive. Microsoft is still the dominant player on the desktop, and if it looks like it is treating OnLive differently than other vendors in order to cripple the iPad it could be viewed as anti-competitive behavior.
"Typically when the source vendor objects to what the licensee is doing the source vendor wins. But that may not be the case here," Enderle said. "This fight will give OnLive a ton of visibility. There's a lot of interesting drama going on here. This could provide millions of dollars' worth of free marketing."
Posted: 2012-03-24 @ 7:28pm PT
have been using Microsoft Lync
for the ipad for a bit now, pretty happy with the translation and encouraged for additional microsoft offerings
Posted: 2012-03-10 @ 4:00pm PT
If OnLive and Micrsoft can't work out a satisfactory agreement, I would like to see OnLive use a different browser such as Google's Chrome, or Firefox, or Atomic. I am interested in using OnLive Desktop Plus on my iPad because it offers full Flash support and very fast browsing speeds of 350-1,000 Mbps. I don't care about OnLive's offering Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, and so that could be dropped and I would still pay the monthly $4.99 fee to use the app.