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4/17/2012
03:22 PM
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Run Windows 8 On Your iPad Remotely

If you're a Windows developer writing software for Windows 8 Metro and you lack a touch environment, you can hack one using a desktop, an iPad, and Splashtop's Win8 Metro Testbed app.

Sure, you love your iPad, but something's missing ... That's it! If only you could run Windows 8 Metro apps! Now you can, sort of.

Okay, maybe the snark is a little unfair, but only because the point of Splashtop's Win8 Metro Testbed is, at first, not obvious. Why would you want remote access to a pre-release Windows 8 system from an iPad? In fact, it's a really clever and useful idea.

Splashtop has been around for many years and has a line of tablet apps that offer various kinds of remote access to other systems. For instance, we reviewed the Splashtop XDisplay, which lets you use your iPad as a second display for a Mac or PC.

The idea of the Win8 Metro Testbed is to let users--probably Windows developers--use a PC running Windows 8 as if it were a tablet. Lots of developers might want to write Windows 8 software, but Windows 8-enabled tablets are uncommon, to say the least.

I installed the free Splashtop Streamer on my Windows 8 PC and the Win8 Metro Testbed app on an iPad. The iPad then became a remote access tablet-touch-terminal for the Windows 8 system, as seen below.

As with other Splashtop products, you can identify and authenticate remote systems by IP address or by logging both in through a Gmail account. The latter allows better remote access, as in most cases client systems don't expose public IP addresses these days.

Our tests were quite remote--our Windows 8 PC was on another ISP network in another state. Performance was tolerable, but not good. As the mission of the product is to help developers, it's likely most users will have both the iPad and PC being used at hand, and on the same subnet, where performance would be much better. (Performance was excellent when we used Splashtop Remote Destktop to control a MacBook Pro with an iPad. We would expect the same if the Windows 8 system were local.)

We tested both Metro and conventional Windows apps and both worked as expected. We could use all the standard Windows 8 gestures and work with both Metro and conventional Windows apps. There are times when you can lose track of the gestures that work in the environment--the gestures aren't necessarily obvious, and help isn't readily available. But this is perhaps no bigger a problem than in any other touch system. The Hints screen, pictured below, shows the main gestures for the Testbed app.

But when you're remoting from one tablet OS into another OS, it certainly can get awkward. For instance, a user of the Testbed app will end up using both the native Windows 8 keyboard (remoted from the Win8 desktop) and the Splashtop keyboard, shown below. I found myself relying on the Splashtop keyboard a lot for things like the Windows key to return to the Start screen.

If you're a Windows 8 developer, then odds are the only way you've got the OS running on a touch system is to hack it on to something cheap. But if you have an iPad, you have an acceptable solution available for even cheaper. In fact, if you write Windows software and you have an iPad, there's probably no reason not to get this Splashtop app.

See the Splashtop video below to see the Win8 Metro Testbed in action.

Name: Win8 Metro Testbed

This app allows remote access to a Windows 8 PC and use of all the touch gestures on that system from an iPad. This lets Metro developers test Windows Metro apps using an iPad, even if it's not a true Windows tablet.
Price: Special launch promotion price of $24.99 (regular price of $49.99).
Pro:
  • Easy way to test Metro if you don't have a Windows 8 tablet.
  • inexpensive
Con:
  • Double-touch interface can be confusing.
  • iPad not included.

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