One of the announcements that seems to have fallen through the cracks amidst the media’s clamour to shout about the Surface 4 and Microsoft’s Surface Book laptop is the ability to transform a Windows 10 powered smartphone into a fully fledged PC. Microsoft have branded it Continuum for Phones, and much of its magic relies on universal apps that can run on phones, PCs, tablets, and even the Xbox One via Windows 10.
While Android and IOS have staked out a huge chunk of customer mind-share, Continuum for Windows 10-powered phones could be the game changer that propels Microsoft’s oft ignored smartphones back into the lime-light.
Put simply, Continuum transforms a Windows 10 powered smartphone into a fully fledged PC by hooking the phone up to a specially designed docking station. If you’re running a mobile version of a universal app, it’ll resize and its interface will morph into a PC version. For mobile workers, you’ll literally be able to take your PC anywhere.
Continuum doesn’t need to be docked, and appears to to work with wireless keyboards, mice, screens too. From the screen shots currently available it appears that Continuum scales up a smartphone screen onto a large display. While the LiveTiles found on the phone are unchanged, it looks a whole lot like a Windows 10 desktop. Handily, Continuum also handily supports a second screen, providing even more desktop real-estate.
Universal apps that can scale and re-flow their interface elements may be impressive, but what really impresses is the abilty of apps to run smoothly. Microsoft have demo’ed full HD videos playing on a TV alongside mobile apps running seamlessly on the phones screen. Amazingly the phone seems to barely break a sweat in the progress.
Performance aside, transforming a smartphone into a PC is likely to have appeal beyond mobile workers. In emerging markets where the cost of a desktop or notebook PC is likely to be prohibitive, a smartphone/docking station plus existing TV solution could see Microsoft making some serious in-roads.
While detractors may argue that Microsoft’s relatively small smartphone market share could hold Continuum PC/phone hybrids back, or that other phone makers have failed with similar attempts at creating a practical and affordable mobile PC hybrid, it is also fair to argue that they didn’t have Microsoft backing them. Continuum could also spur a greater number of universal apps which could in turn help add momentum to Microsoft’s PC/console and phone ecosystem.
Either way, being able to take my work PC home,or around to a friends place in my short pocket sounds pretty like a pretty compelling option. Here’s hoping Continuum takes off.