Run Windows on an iPad/Android tablet….sort of

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I’m a firm believer that tablets can be a productivity devices, but there are still some things you need a computer for. Be it using Flash or Java, accessing specific software or looking through large file libraries there are several reasons why you’d need a computer. Read on to see how you can run any version of Windows on a tablet- sort of.

You can’t run Windows on most Android tablets or the iPad, but you can do the next best thing- remote control a Windows computer. There are a lot of different software to do this, but my favorite is Teamviewer because it’s free for personal use and completely hassle free. You install the software on your PC and get the app from the app store or Android market, set up the access (easiest way is using a login) and you’re all set.

Remote desktop software isn’t a new thing and many would say it’s not a good solution, but there are some steps you can take to make it work. First off, reduce the resolution of the screen. Ideally 1024×700 or so would be the best to get as close to the iPads resolution while compensating for the on-screen tool bar and top status bar, but the closest you’re likely to get is 1024×768 which is exactly the resolution of the iPad. This means you’ll have to scroll up/down a bit but at leats not sideways. Alternately, 1024×600 is a popular resolution these days for netbooks and nettops, and that would require no scrolling on the iPad but also not fill the screen. As for Android tablets, the resolution on those vary but the same principles apply. The next thing you can do is set Teamviewer to optimize quality not speed, as it will most likely still be rather speedy and it will make everything look much better- as if you were actually running Windows on the tablet. You can’t expect to watch video this way (for one there’s no audio, and the video itself is choppy) but you’d be surprised how smooth everything is otherwise.

Once you have this set up you can use the system for a lot of things. Going online to sites that require this or that (or maybe use some specific browser plugin, or accessing bookmarks) is one option. You can also run various software, and you’re only limited by the host PC’s hardware and the controls. A lot of companies rely 0n outdated, proprietary software for even the smallest things, so this would allow someone to access that software without being physically present. You could also use this to access large file libraries, like documents and pictures.

A lot of people also have computers they no longer use that just sits around. I myself have several, including my old netbook. It’s slow, but it also uses very little power and makes no noise, so in theory I could turn it on, close the lid and use it only for Windows on the tablet. The strength of tablets is in their portability/form factor, battery life and general user experience, and by using an old PC and some free software you can add even more functionality without sacrificing anything. A tablet can be a better solution for 99% of the things someone needs to do on the go yet not be an option because of the remaining 1%, and this is a way to get around that 1%.

Controlling everything is done with the touchscreen dragging the screen to move the cursor and accessing various buttons to bring up the keyboard, right click etc. A bit awkward, but doable. In fact, it’s less annoying to do it this way than to use the Viliv S5’s resistive touchscreen, which says a lot…about both products. I wouldn’t edit lots of photos in Photoshop this way, but for navigation when accessing a file or program it’s more than adequate.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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