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

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 A lot of companies rely 0n outdated, proprietary software for even the smallest things, so this would allow someone to access that software without being physically present.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.

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

  • January 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm
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    Expect a lot more hacks and such to show up this year, as Tablets get more popular and more powerful.

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  • January 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm
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    I’m a big fan of TeamViewer, but find it difficult to be productive on a small iphone screen. I imagine it would be great on a tablet size display.

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  • January 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm
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    I’ve been using LogMeIn for years on desktops/laptops, but the ignition app for iOS is less than spectacular. It works fine, but this seems to get the job done much better. I’ll have to remember this article.

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  • January 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm
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    Photoshop seems like it would be a lot more wieldy on a tablet than a phone, very awesome. Even more convenient to carry around than a netbook!

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  • January 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm
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    I don’t actually like this idea of “remote controlled xyz by abc”. It would we damd nice if you could run androit on an iPad without this way!

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  • January 18, 2011 at 12:07 am
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    I can’t imagine doing anything more than surfing the internet on a phone, but on a tablet, the possibilities are endless! This is a great idea, but nothing beats being able to do this right on the tablet.

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  • January 18, 2011 at 12:13 am
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    I agree with th3bl0b but it seems the possibilities have yet to come…
    cause right now, most tablets seem to be on par with phones besides the larger user space

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  • January 18, 2011 at 3:44 am
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    Another agreement with th3bl0b. The way things are moving we’ll be there in no time though. Honeycomb in itself is a huge step forward, and hopefully the new iOS/iPad can test the limits of Honeycomb too. Competition in the tablet industry is going to be huge these next few years, and largely beneficial. Experiments like these really test the limits of tablets though, but also push for extensions.

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  • January 18, 2011 at 5:21 am
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    I agree Team Viewer is nice, but I would not call it “hassle free” with all the nag windows about personal use.

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    • January 18, 2011 at 7:00 am
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      I meant compared to other solutions where you might have to deal with IPs, port forwarding etc. Teamviewer is pretty easy to get running with little technical knowledge

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  • January 18, 2011 at 5:22 am
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    Or, you could use DOSBox and emulate Win 3.1 :P hey, it runs pretty well for stuff as powerful as, say, the iPad or the Pandora.

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  • January 18, 2011 at 11:13 am
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    UUhh why would i want windows in a ios/android tablet again?

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  • January 18, 2011 at 11:24 am
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    Thanks for the concept–interesting!

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  • January 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm
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    Great! Though I am sure there’s a degree of lag if its remote controlled. Certain programs probably wouldn’t work either.

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  • January 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm
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    I read the review of the TeamViewer app over at anythingbutiphone.com. I must say, this looks very promising! Can’t wait to try it!

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  • January 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm
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    this sounds realy nice, but is it able to transfer sound too, or just the desktop?
    could it be possible to handle videos with vlc over this, so you could have 2 TB of movies at home with the option, to watch them somwhere else over wifi?

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  • January 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm
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    Photoshop on an Ipad? Do want.

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  • January 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm
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    Is a possible way to have a pc without monitor to use it for more CPU hungry tasks from a tablet.
    Yes, possibly photoshop. It is like a personal cloud network.

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  • January 20, 2011 at 4:06 am
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    There is only one thing that sucks about Teamviewer..It cant wake up computer from sleep..I dont like to keep my computer ON 24/7 so I usally keep it on sleep to save some power. Well so whenever I want to use Teamviewer, I cant put my pc to sleep..That SUCKSSS…Well, I know what some of you might say, why dont I use WOL? Well, that shit is never 100% realiable..

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  • January 20, 2011 at 7:03 am
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    I use Remote Desktop on my ipad and laptop.

    Works perfectly, but it IS a resource hog when it’s running (as in my ipad is connected)… But I love the fact that it automatically resizes the screen of the laptop so it fits on the ipad properly, then resizes it back when you disconnect! :)

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  • January 20, 2011 at 9:08 pm
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    @copeys lol sounds like you need more RAM. :-)

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  • January 20, 2011 at 11:01 pm
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    Doesn’t the archos 101 already have something similar to this included? I think most of the archos products have this capability already integrated

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  • January 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm
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    A 399 touch screen mouse… Basically? Hah

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    • January 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm
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      Pretty much… while I get that it’s neat, I don’t really see a use for it. For my way of doing stuff, that is. It is neat though… hah.

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  • January 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm
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    @DGM I dont think archos 101 has this included..but if it has HTML5 browser bult in then u can use it.

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  • January 24, 2011 at 12:34 am
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    Yeah, i tried crazy remote on my iPhone and it was kindof hard. But I’m going to get my wife an iPad for her birthday, and I’ll try it again.

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  • January 25, 2011 at 5:00 pm
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    Are there any remote clients for iPad that DO support streaming of audio from Windows Home Premium? Would love to be able stream movies from my computer.

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    • January 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm
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      You dont need remote software to stream media. plenty of software that streams directly

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  • January 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm
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    I use Teamviewer for internet based connectivity to my home pc and sometimes my office pc, but for the office, I actually prefer to go in through our vpn and either RDP or VNC. I have to use the VPN for some email trickery, so I may as well put it to use for remote access as well.

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  • January 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm
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    I tried this, but never actually used.. I guess that 1% does not exist for me :)

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  • February 10, 2011 at 1:12 am
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    Interesting solution to people wanting to windows things on a tablet.
    Not sure why you would though. Surely you’d use a tablet and a computer for very different things though.

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  • September 21, 2011 at 5:02 am
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    I use my android all the time, and hate it. I need a mouse and keyboard. Even using teamviewer I am still cursing that fact. These damn things are amazing, but still suck compared to a netbook at half the price.

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