Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

When Office Is in the Cloud and on a Tablet, Is It Really Office?

Now we know how Microsoft feels about the whole “desktop as a service” thing that has started to gain traction in some quarters: It doesn’t like it.

Redmond today officially pushed back against OnLive, a company known best for its streaming gaming service that has created a streaming desktop for use on tablets, including Apple’s iPad and those running Android.

OnLive started offering the service last month for $4.99 per user per month, including two gigabytes of cloud storage.

In a corporate blog post today, Joe Matz, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for worldwide licensing, said the company sees OnLive’s product as a violation of its licensing terms for Office. “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,” Matz wrote. The licensing terms allow some desktop functionality on a tablet, but not the full version delivered as a hosted service, he wrote.

Microsoft partners who host under the Services Provider License Agreement (“SPLA”) may bring some desktop-like functionality as a service by using Windows Server and Remote Desktop Services. Under this solution, the partner is free to offer this service to any customer they choose, whether or not they have a direct licensing agreement with Microsoft. However, it is important to note that SPLA does not support delivery of Windows 7 as a hosted client or provide the ability to access Office as a service through Windows 7. Office may only be provided as a service if it is hosted on Windows Server and Remote Desktop Services.

The response from OnLive was brief: “We have never commented on any licensing agreements.”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik