Microsoft Office and other Windows software on your iPad

In an earlier blog I introduced our “future desktop” project. One key element of that project is the ability to make Microsoft Windows based software packages available across a greater range of platforms. The technology we use for this is provided by Citrix, and you can use it now on your mobile device. This only applies if you are a registered student with RGU, or a member of staff, and for students I’m afraid that some license restrictions apply at the moment. For example, we can’t provide access to Microsoft Office for students but we do offer a version of Open Office and a growing number of other applications.

So, if you are staff or student at RGU, and want to take Citrix for a test drive on your iPad – download the app and have a look – it’s free!

Full instructions can be found under “MyApps – advanced and device support” on our web site.

On an iPad, download the free Citrix Receiver app. When you first fire it up, select “add account” to the menu that pops up. The address to enter is “http://myapps.rgu.ac.uk”. Press “next” and then you will see a screen where it asks for the description of the account (anything you like), username, password and domain. Enter your normal username, leave the password blank, and put in “rgu.ac.uk” for the domain. It will then pop up with a further screen entitled “enter credentials.” At this point enter your password, it will verify your account, and if all goes well you will get a menu with all the applications you are entitled to access.

Try launching Microsoft Word or any other application you fancy. Here is a screen clip from Microsoft Word on my iPad:

Just touch the screen in place of mouse clicks. If you want the keyboard to pop up, touch the pull down arrow at the top of the screen and you should get a menu as follows:

Touch the keyboard icon and you can start to type. It’s worth exploring “gestures” to see how to right click, zoom, drag the mouse etc. If you do that, you will see that a three finger tap is another way to call up the keyboard. If you have more than one application open, the two finger tap will toggle between application windows (like Alt+tab). Press the “home” icon to get back to the list of applications and launch another one.

If you have a bluetooth keyboard (I use the standard Apple one), and pair it with your iPad, you can type on a full size keyboard and everything starts to get really good – full version of Microsoft Office applications and you can type away on your keyboard. If you have one of the Apple VGA adapters and a suitable monitor, you can plug your iPad into an external monitor. Depending on which iPad version you have you may then have to go into Settings and turn on the external display. Now you have a full size keyboard and monitor. . .

If you want to have even more fun, and if you have an iPhone, you can fire up Citrix on the iPhone, turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone and iPad. Click on “pair” on your iPad Citrix App and then on your iPhone touch the wee pointer arrow at the bottom left of the screen of Citrix app.

It should ask you to accept the iPad connection. Now your iPhone acts as a trackpad. So, now you have a full size keyboard, external monitor and a (pretty expensive) mouse!

I digress. Most of the time, the whole purpose of this app is to provide you with the convenience of access to all your University Windows based software applications when you are on the move – you are unlikely to be carrying your monitor and keyboard in your back pocket. It does, however, serve to illustrate where some of this might go. Give it a few years and it might be increasingly normal to drop by a convenient keyboard and monitor, hook up your iPad and off you go.

The Citrix app works on the iPhone too, and Windows Mobile and Android platforms. Mind you, Microsoft Word on an iPhone is stretching things with such a small screen – but yes, you can use it.

Andrew McCreath

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