Continuum turns Win10 phones and tablets into desktops

At its Build keynote yesterday, Microsoft showed off the adaptability of Windows 10 on a variety of devices. Win10's Continuum feature allows devices to"flex" in order to fit different use cases and connected screens as users move between desktop and on-the-go contexts.

Microsoft VP Joe Belfiore demonstrated Continuum in a couple of different ways. He first picked up a Windows 10 tablet running without a dock or keyboard, and its interface reflected that: plenty of live tiles and touch-friendly interface elements. Belfiore then opened up a mapping app and docked the tablet, at which point the UI expanded into a more familiar desktop environment.

Belfiore also showed how more traditional Windows applications can take advantage of Continuum. He undocked a Surface Pro 3 tablet while working in Autodesk's Maya 3D modeling app. Maya adapted to the context change by enabling pen and touch input, allowing Belfiore to pinch to zoom on the model and write some notes about the project using the Surface's stylus.

Continuum will also be coming to phones running Windows 10. Belfiore connected a phone to a large display via HDMI out, and when that context change was detected, the phone offered the option to use a nearby Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for input. He then did some work in Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint as one might on a full-fat PC, emphasizing that the code behind the Office apps was practically identical to the PC versions. This demo was just a simulation, though. Compatible phones will apparently need new hardware for Continuum to work.

If Continuum works as well as Microsoft's examples showed, it could be a compelling feature. The ability to plug a phone into a big screen and turn it into a PC at will is pretty neat. Belfiore did emphasize that developers will need to write universal Windows apps that can take advantage of these features, but even having the capability in Office apps alone could be handy.

Comments closed
    • slate0
    • 5 years ago

    But will it shrink all of my open windows (and not put them back when I’m done) and mess up my desktop icon arrangement? This is the big PITA of most screen sharing solutions I’ve used.

      • sweatshopking
      • 5 years ago

      no. there are no desktop icons. it’s the phone.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<] In the same vein, even when Windows 10 does launch, it will not be feature complete. Things like Extensions, which are coming to the new Edge browser, will not be available at launch but will come in a future update. Since Edge is [b<]going to be updated through the store[/b<], at least this will be easy. Other features like Win32 apps coming as Windows Store apps will also be later in the cycle.[/quote<] There's your potential store lock in for you. [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/9207/microsoft-details-windows-10-staggered-release-schedule[/url<]

    • Ninjitsu
    • 5 years ago

    Yeah, this was pretty cool. Would be great for something like the T300 Chi

    • alloyD
    • 5 years ago

    Yes, but can it snap it’s fingers and put the crew of the Enterprise on trial representing all humanity?

      • Sam125
      • 5 years ago

      I always enjoyed episodes with the Q.

        • Generic
        • 5 years ago

        That voice is the only reason I played Quantum Conundrum all the way through. 🙂

    • Welch
    • 5 years ago

    So funny, this concept isn’t new as many of you I’m sure know. One of the more recent implementations of this type to me was the Motorola Atrix Webtop. It didn’t get too much love but the concept was the same, your phone should be capable of plugging into a larger display and being more desktop like.

    I’ve loved this concept for a long long time, and if Microsoft can manage to pull it off properly then I’m behind it…. here is to hoping.

    • tsk
    • 5 years ago

    This needs to happen!

      • Sam125
      • 5 years ago

      It’s an okay concept. Continuum for devices just makes me think it’s geared toward companies trying to extract more “productivity” out of their employees.

      People who are given company phones are expected to be on-call 24/7, so will people with company windows phones be expected to work out of the office? Yeah, I’ll pass. 😉

        • rxc6
        • 5 years ago

        I see that you have a “sunny disposition” about everything coming from MS. You even dislike the good things.

          • Sam125
          • 5 years ago

          What you see as good things, I see as just mediocre. *shrug*

          I can’t have opinions? Are you the sole representation of what’s considered good and bad? /sarcasm I find it to be sad that you’re even criticizing me for voicing my thoughts.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            there is voting. he just explained why he’d vote one way. don’t be sad.
            xoxooxo <3

      • Klimax
      • 5 years ago

      @MS: Make it so.

      😉

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 5 years ago

    This sounds like a more limited version of the Ubuntu Convergence concept, with the exception that a full desktop environment isn’t always available. I like it a lot.

    I think this is the next age of computing, where phones, desktops, and tablets are less segregated and more integrated. I think the lines will become more blurred as time goes on.

      • smilingcrow
      • 5 years ago

      Windows 8 was the first step towards this strategy which was why I thought it was such an innovative platform which showed a lot of potential.
      Unfortunately it was half baked on release and MS need to overcome the negative perception that it created.
      I hope they take a more pragmatic and long term approach with W10 rather than trying to force a new paradigm which is still a work in progress.
      If they play the long game and don’t annoy the desktop side but keep on building on the convergence and cross platform side I can see a lot of people embracing it over time.
      With one underlying kernel and potentially even one ISA (drop ARM) they are in a good position to have a platform that straddles all sectors in a way that nobody else does.

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        Embracing?

          • smilingcrow
          • 5 years ago

          Thanks, embracing not embarrassing. Hopefully they are done with the embarrassment and I like the way MS are moving forward under the new CEO. They seem more pragmatic and inclusive and are doing practical things to get more people and developers on board.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            Totally agree.

      • d0g_p00p
      • 5 years ago

      I’m pretty much sure every one in the tech industry knows that is the future of computing. We will basically just have one device, laptops and desktops and will be even more niche and for more specialized roles while our phones will be our general computing device

    • quantumMan
    • 5 years ago

    I have been expecting this for a while. I was hoping that Android would come out with it first, as that would have been the first viable alternative to Windows in years (from a market-share sense–I know that MacOS and Linux are viable operating systems, they just aren’t as widely used as Windows or Android).

    With this and USB-C just around the corner, most people won’t need a desktop anymore. We may very well even see 3rd party “laptop” shells to connect a phone to.

    At least Microsoft sees what the future is. I expect Android (Android/ChromeOS fusion?) to follow-suit.

    • internetsandman
    • 5 years ago

    This is actually a compelling argument to switch to Windows on the mobile side of things. I’ve been looking for serious “must have” features of other platforms that could pull me away from iOS’ familiarity, this might be one of them

    • derFunkenstein
    • 5 years ago

    I think this could be cool. It’s been tried in various ways by ASUS with their PadFone and Motorola with the Atrix, and it hasn’t really taken off. WIth Windows, though, an x86 phone that can run desktop apps could be interesting for people that don’t really need a full desktop but want to be able to type up Office-type stuff, or do light photo editing.

      • demani
      • 5 years ago

      Yeah-when this is out and running for a bit I could really see myself switching to a large phone for 90% of my work (mostly web or configuration stuff). I would be in heaven if I only needed to carry one device around.

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        the 1530 (or whatever it ends up being called) will basically be my dream phone, and with this, it’ll handle so much of my work.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 5 years ago

          Wonder if those “select phones” that will get Continuity will also be able to run hi-DPI-aware desktop apps on the phone.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            Silly boy, my son. Continuity is on OSX. All universal apps should be dpi aware, and since they’re the same code on all windows devices, they should. Just depends on the screen size and input devices.

            I’m hoping we see keyboard and mouse support for xbone.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            wtfever it’s called, you know what i mean. :p

            I was also specifically asking about desktop apps. But as I re-examine, I guess tehre are no desktop apps for Win10 on phones, even in the desktop version.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            Desktop apps ARE phone apps, unless you’re referring to win32?

    • drunkrx
    • 5 years ago

    I thought you were talking about the TV show. haha.

      • Peter.Parker
      • 5 years ago

      Wait, is Belfiore that guy with the beaver hair?

        • bjm
        • 5 years ago

        No, “Belfiore” is just the sound his hair makes when he runs through the wind.

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        why do people care so much about a guys hair?

          • derFunkenstein
          • 5 years ago

          Because it’s frickin sweet and they’re jealous.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      That show did have a lot of gratuitous Microsoft product placement, so that would make sense.

        • smilingcrow
        • 5 years ago

        I see a lot of MS products on the few American TV shows I watch. They are clearly pumping money into product placements.

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