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OnLive switches to Windows Server to comply with licensing, handwriting feature is collateral victim

April 9, 2012

OnLive’s innovative Desktop App was launched about a month ago on Android, and, in just a few short weeks, it became very popular among gadget lovers all over the world. Offering an almost complete Windows 7 experience and the Office productivity suite for free on Android and iOS, it wasn’t difficult to predict its booming success, but also its legal problems.

Microsoft doesn’t take kindly on developers offering their premium products (or variations of these) for less than what they usually charge, so it didn’t come as a huge surprise when one of the company’s officials took a stand a few weeks back.

According to Joe Matz, VP of Worldwide Licensing and Pricing for Microsoft, OnLive wasn’t  “properly licensed” to offer the Desktop App in its initial form, but the software giant was “actively engaged with OnLive” to bring them into such a licensed scenario.

In other words, Microsoft didn’t give its blessing for OnLive to offer its flagship products for free, but was, in fact, willing to come to a compromise, probably involving some sort of financial compensation. At least that’s what we thought back in March, when we were predicting that, soon enough, the OnLive Desktop App will either be pulled from Google Play and Apple’s Appstore, or it will stop being offered for free.

Well, an interesting development on the matter has happened probably earlier than we all expected and neither of the two pessimistic scenarios seems to have become reality. According to an blog post, the OnLive Desktop app has now replaced Windows 7 with Windows Server 2008, which adheres to VDI/SPLA licensing and should solve the legal conflict between OnLive and Microsoft that was so close to exploding.

The good news is that, with just a technical measure, the OnLive app should now be in compliance with Microsoft licensing policies, without any major change in terms of appearance or functionality that would drive users away. In fact, the only major change that users will notice is the loss of the handwriting function on the app’s keyboard (this is because the feature is only supported in Windows 7). Other than that, the OnLive Desktop App looks and behaves the same as before, which is great news for all its fans.

The even better news is that, if things stand as they are right now, the app will still be offered for free in the future. On the other hand, we should not get overly ecstatic at the moment, because, for the time being, we aren’t sure if the app is actually in full compliance of Microsoft licensing. Also, we still don’t know if the two parties reached an agreement when it comes to licensing the Office apps.

Neither OnLive, nor Microsoft, have released any official statement on the matter, so you should stay tuned on our website for updates on this report.