It sounds like the holy grail for mobile productivity - a truly portable tablet that runs Windows and Office. Well, it's here - sort of.
CloudOn has been around for a while but until now hasn't been available in Australia until now. It's now here, free from the iTunes App Store and Android Play Store. It works like this.
CloudOn uses your tablet - it can be either an iPad or Android device - like a dumb terminal. All the actual work is being done back on a server operated by CloudOn. Your tablet provides the screen and keyboard (the touchscreen acts as a mouse) so that you are running Windows remotely. Other than the CloudOn app, there's nothing installed to your tablet.
You can create, edit, save and share Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents and use the full collection of Microsoft Office features, including tracking changes in Word, manipulating pivot tables in Excel and viewing PowerPoint slideshows in full presentation mode. You can also view PDFs with Adobe Reader and there's a universal viewer for any image file, ranging from raw Photoshop images to everyday image files like PNG, JPEG and GIF.
You can use CloudOn to edit and share files using online storage services. Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive are supported and documents are automatically saved so that you can avoid losing changes. You can also open and send emails with attachments with a single tap.
We connected CloudOn to a Dropbox account. CloudOn doesn't launch with the Windows desktop. It launches with a file management system that connects to your online file storage. Then you browse your files and open whatever you want to view or edit. It's very simple and overcomes the problem of Windows not being touchscreen-friendly.
In order to use it you require a robust Internet connection as the service streams Windows over the Internet to your tablet. With a slow connection, the service feels laggy and unresponsive so we don't recommend it over a 3G connection. However, with a decent connection it works as advertised.
Is CloudOn perfect? No. But it's a viable alternative to other productivity suites and, as it offers true access to Microsoft Office for the best possible document compatibility.