Now you can run Windows 10 on an iPad Pro, Android

Solutions that put your Windows and Mac computers on your tablet, virtually

Microsoft remains on message with its “Windows everywhere” mantra, so how can iPad and Android users access Windows from their devices? Parallels Access, VMWare Horizon and Amazon Workspaces all let you access Windows from iPad Pro, compatible Android and other devices.

OK, Computer

Tools like these are excellent for Windows users as they can access their legacy applications on their choice of mobile device while they engage in the inevitable process of upgrading their IT infrastructure for the new digital workplace.

Parallels Access

Recently acquired by Corel, the latest edition of Parallels Access lets you run Windows on your iPad. It's not a complete solution -- you'll still need Windows running on a remote system (Mac or PC) that is tied to your iPad for remote access.

The company also sells Parallels for Mac, which lets you run multiple operating systems in virtualization on your Apple PC.

It is of particular benefit to any iPad Pro, iPad or Mac users who seeks to access Windows applications, as it makes full use of the larger screen and provides other useful improvements, including:

  • A familiar user interface on mobile for you PC apps -- swipe to scroll, tap to click, pinch to zoom.
  • Drag-&-drop support. 3D Touch support (also for compatible iPhones).
  • Apple Pencil support.
  • Support for cursor movement using the on-screen keyboard as a trackpad.
  • Optimized screen resolution.
  • Support for Windows 10 Tablet Mode.
  • It even adds support for a mouse -- more features described here.

If you become a Parallels Access subscriber you can remotely access Mac or Windows PCs through your choice of device. You can interact with apps hosted on remote computers in the same way as any apps on their iPad Pro, using familiar gestures such as touch, a pencil, or keyboards. You will need an active an Internet (or 4G) connection, and while performance is usually excellent, some  applications may take a performance hit when used remotely.

One more thing: This solution provides Apple Watch integration, which lets you see and connect with remote computers from your watch.

VMWare Horizon

While more challenging to figure out than Parallels, VMware’s Horizon Client offers another twist on virtualization, allowing you to run virtual VMWare Horizon Windows desktops on your device.

The solution also lets you use hosted applications, which means quite complex Windows and other software packages can be effectively used from an iPad or other supporting mobile device.

What you get:

  • H.264 video encoding makes the user interface slick and demands less power.
  • Unity Touch means that you handle your Windows work using familiar iOS gestures.
  • If you use this solution with AirPlay, then while beaming the contents of your iPhone/iPad screen you will be able to use your device as a mouse with which to control the Windows content you see on screen.
  • Highly secure, leverages smart card and biometric ID.

Amazon Workspaces

For a fee, Amazon Workspaces provides virtual Windows or Linux desktops, storage and applications that can be accessed by a range of different platforms online.

The service is useful because it provides a secure and virtual computing environment that can be accessed from anywhere on any device, so long as you can get online. The service supports Windows, Macs, iPads, Chrombooks, Fire and Android tablets.

It's a good solution for enterprises needing to provision new employees, or for travellers who need desktop-like access but who don’t necessarily want to carry all their data with them as they move -- no data is ever downloaded to your mobile device from this system, as all transactions take place remotely, in the cloud.

When Amazon WorkSpaces are provisioned, users receive an email providing instructions on where to download the client applications they need, and instructions on how to connect to their virtual computing system.

What you get

  • A tablet-optimised desktop experience
  • Support for multi-touch gestures such as pinch and zoom
  • On-screen keyboard and touch-based mouse interface
  • Data remains stored in the cloud – never on the device.
  • HIPAA and Active directory support.

These are not the only solutions you can use to run Windows on an iPad – Microsoft itself offers its Remote Desktop app that lets you access and use your existing PC remotely.

There are other alternatives, such as Splashtop and Citrix Workspace, but the bottom line remains that it is possible – and may in some cases be preferable – to run Windows on an iPad or other mobile device.

The perfect transition solution

Solutions like these are seeing rapid adoption as Apple's place in the enterprise continues to expand, and as more and more professional users fully embrace the iPad Pro. 

It seems likely that more people will hook themselves up to virtualised PCs as the Windows 10 upgrade begins -- particularly as doing so reduces the risk you take when you carry confidential data or highly proprietary apps with you. Rather than having them locally, you run them securely in virtualisation and access them from a mobile device.

That benefit is likely to be even more attractive to remote workers in the field, who can now get access to even legacy enterprise applications using their iPad, while enjoying all the other benefits of the platform.

Tim Cook often calls iPad Pro, “a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.” Solutions like these support his claim.

WWDC and the future of Macs

Apple is expected to announce new Macs, iPads and its long-awaited video service over the next few months.

We'll also see the company introduce what it has been working with on Project Marzipan, an initiative that means it will become much, much simpler to retool iOS apps in order that they run on Macs, even as speculation that it may in future power Macs with it's own A-series chips continues.

Apple's chips are already powerful enough to be capable of supporting desktop-class performance inside a mobile device, and this means future iterations of all Apple’s mobile products will become capable of handling increasingly sophisticated applications, further blurring the line between PC and mobile device.

Where we are now in this transition, solutions like these provide a good bridge between legacy and mobile solutions, which may be all some users need to maintain the best of both worlds while they await the best time to invest in new hardware.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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