Merging cloud storage, a Microsoft Office license and Adobe Reader access, CloudOn lets users access, edit and share their Word, Excel and other Office files, all from the swish confines of their iPad.

The Dwindling Need for a PC

Every few weeks, along comes another app that takes yet more users away from the desktop PC paradigm. This week we have CloudOn version 2.0, which combines a Microsoft Office license, Adobe Reader and the cloud storage of your choice to produce a working office environment on the iPad.

CloudOn app allows users to create, edit, share and save their work using only the iPad, and there's probably no reason it can't work on other tablets. The app gives users access to their Office documents including the deep features such as tracked changes, pivot tables in Excel and so on, with editing and tool support.

This is the second edition of the app and now supports storage in Dropox and other cloud service archives, making it far easier to share and collaborate on work files. All the file access is done from within the app, removing several excess steps from the process of accessing cloud-stored files.

The longer Microsoft holds out on bringing the full Office experience to the iPad, the more success these services will see. CloudOn claims over a million downloads and other services are also doing a roaring trade. It is currently available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., with further territory support coming soon.

Learning Opportunities

OnLive Brings the Full Desktop to iPad

Last month, we also covered OnLive, whose virtual PC desktop-as-a-service brought Windows 7 to the iPad. The company has now changed its infrastructure to address some Microsoft licensing issues. If it is now playing by all of Microsoft's convoluted rules, then users are free to access the latest Windows operating system on the iPad for a free or a minimal fee without paying for either the OS or Office.

With the various paid-for plans, OnLive brings Flash browsing and its own cloud storage to the iPad, and will soon offer a new collaborative package. That will enable thousands of users to follow the same desktop presentation, lecture or demonstration, from almost any device.

These and other services are all chipping away at the monolithic PC/Windows structure that has dominated many digital lives for decades. Does Microsoft really have a suitable response within Windows 8? Or is it really the last years for the old giants, as wave after wave of nimble services rush in to steal the user base?