Microsoft's Continuum team for Windows 10 Mobile had to deal with some challenges to make their vision of a mobile app work on a big screen monitor. Keri Moran, the Principal Program Manager Lead for Continuum, has revealed some of those struggles in a blog post.
Moran wrote that this work began three years ago when the team came to the realization that while a smartphone packs as much hardware performance as a PC, most people don't really use it for "real work" like creating PowerPoint presentations or making spreadsheets. Moran said that they first talked to customers worldwide about what they wanted to do with their smartphones. They learned that many people cannot live without their smartphone, but they wanted to be able to quickly hook it up to a large screen to do work. Others stated that they didn't have access to a true PC, so they had to do all of their computing work on a smartphone.
Moran and her team then began working on Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile to solve these consumer problems, but they had a number of issues to deal with:
"For example, there were two paradigms for connecting to a second screen: (1) mirroring your phone's screen to a larger screen or (2) connecting your PC to multiple monitors. We needed to create a new design paradigm with two independent experiences – one on the phone and a separate one on the second screen. This was important because customers wanted to continue to use their phone as a phone, even while having a PC-like experience on the second screen. We spent months iterating with paper and software prototypes to arrive at an experience that was easy to understand and use."
"The technical hurdles were just as big. For example, we had to build support for keyboard and mouse into Windows 10 Mobile. And many substantial architecture changes were needed in Windows to make Continuum work."
The final result launched in late 2015 with the release of the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL smartphones with Windows 10 Mobile. Hooking up those phones to a Microsoft Display Dock can allow owners to connect to a big monitor, and use the phone as if it were a PC.