Dell wanted to build an Intel-based Windows 10 Mobile device for all your needs

Dell, of all people, were planning to build a super-powerful Windows 10 Mobile handset with an x86 Intel Core M processor, with 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB storage. The device would've been more of a small tablet rather than a smartphone, with the screen being 6.4 inches diagonally. That wouldn't matter however, as the concept for the device was for it to be one device that you can use as a desktop, laptop or tablet.

Most of the devices functionality would've taken advantage of Continuum, which allows high-end devices to transform into a desktop environment with a familiar taskbar, start menu and more. We've all seen Continuum before, and with the upcoming improvements which add windowed-mode, this device would've been one powerful, capable handset.

The problem however is we don't know what happened to the Dell project, which was internally referred to as "Stack". VentureBeat reports the device was scheduled to launch in the Spring of 2017, but the current state of the project is unknown. Perhaps the project was shelved after Intel announced plans to kill off its ATOM line of CPUs, or maybe it's just in hibernation, waiting for Microsoft to up their game on the software side of things.

Regardless, it's obvious that OEMs are interested in the concept of Windows 10 Mobile, it's just unfortunate that Microsoft is doing such a bad job at keeping up with OEMs wants and desires. HP, with their Elite x3, kind of achieved what Dell was planning with Stack, albeit on a much less powerful level. The Elite x3 is a smartphone being advertised as the one device that can be a laptop and desktop too, similar to Dell's Stack. However, HP had to tug and pull at Microsoft for months before the device was announced, as Windows 10 Mobile was missing vital things needed for HP to make the device they wanted, such as Snapdragon 820 support, fingerprint support and more.

Hopefully the Dell Stack will see the light of day at some point, either in its current conception or in a new product down the line. Microsoft's ultimate goal is to make Windows 10 Mobile a viable option over other mobile operating systems, and OEMs appear to be interested, it's just getting them to release these devices that appears to be the challenge.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

185 Comments
  • It's a shame to see all these great concepts getting canned before consumers have a chance to show there is a market.
  • DAMMIT we were so close!
    I remember people saying Core M wasn't possible in a mobile device.
  • Let's not forget that Dell has not confirmed anything solid about this device... There's a possibility that it has been delayed, like the article states.
    ......
    MS may, or may not, be interested in making a x86 mobile phone, but sooner, or later, someone will.. We also should think about what section of W10 it would run, being under 7"... That might be what's holding Intel powered mobile devices back.... MS might not yet have x86 capabilities ready for W10M.. Either way, it takes MS way to long, and I bet it's because they refuse to dedicate enough of the windows teams focus on mobile.
  • No. It's taking long because its not ready. Look how they have been nailing it with surface, Surface book, and surface studio. When they finally release the phone it HAS to be showstopping. It's the only shot now
  • The world has moved on. The battle has already been won.
  • We don't know what's in store for the future... But, Daniel does have a good point.. Win32 apps are not the future. The mobile applications we run now are...
    .. So, maybe the solution isn't an x86 phone, rather more powerful, and fully functional, mobile apps, and more powerful Arm architecture to push them.. And, who says that Arm, and x86, are the only choices in the future? Could it be possible that a new processing Architecture may come about some day??
  • Only if msft is confident enough of its Mobile part of its ecosystem can OEMs be more interested in trying something more than what it takes to be a smartphone these days...
  • Over the last six years consumers have shown that there isn't a market.
  • It isn't easy competing with a company holding multiple monopolies.
  • I assume you mean Apple and Google, whom had next to no monopolies when the new mobile paradigm started, especially compared to Microsoft. They just had better products. Microsoft's offerings just fell short in too many ways.
  • Better products my butt. They didn't have a single product better than Microsoft on the software side when mobile started, except for Google search. At that time, Microsoft didn't really make hardware except for mice and keyboards.
  • Android blew Windows Phone 7 out of the water, especially if you were a manufacturer. You had the ability to 100% control the experience of the user and differentiate your device. You had no limits beyond having to bundle Google apps. Windows Phone 7 gave manufacturers nothing but limits. They could not modify the experience at all beyond adding apps. They were extremely limited in hardware choice and were completely dependent on Microsoft to add features. Manufacturer innovation was impossible. Samsung couldn't have become the juggernaut of today using Windows Phone. That is what mattered, not smooth animations.
  • DId/does anyone buy a Samsung because of Touchwiz? Samsung took leadership of the Android market because it offered some of the best hardware at acceptable prices. In reality manufacturer differentiation detracted from Android, forcing Google to rebalance the roles of the core OS and the Play store. Microsoft was looking at Apple, not Google, and third party manufacturer support wouldn't have been such an issue if they hadn't messed up their attempts to build a comparable ecosystem, but then they made all the predictable mistakes of a business chasing the market, with no confidence in their own vision. Now they're trying to redefine what an ecosystem looks like, and maybe other tech trends will favour them, maybe not. I hope they succeed because the superiority of the W10M UI goes far deeper than smooth animations, but I'm not holding my breath. W10M depends on the success of W10/UWP itself in attracting wider developer support, and that's the bit which still hasn't fallen into place.   
  • I think it is weird, but it seems TouchWiz is a selling point for people. Several generations now make the experience familiar to consumers. All the features they were able to add to the early Galaxy models as well as solid performance and hardware was what put them ahead. That wouldn't have been possible with Windows Phone. The hardware would have been outdated and defining features non-existent. Without dedicated manufacturer support, Windows Phone had no chance. Microsoft did not create a platform that inspired manufacturers and they never did anything to fix that.
  • Not really inspiring, but more so google letting oems code android to the point there is an OHA for android that even carrier belong to. It is their personal os without the need to maintain the base core. MS had complete control and that killed symbian and now WM. Though I want wm to make a come back.
  • Touchwiz is a selling point? Then why did I run to anything not Touchwiz? Don't get me wrong, Touchwiz isn't the worst launcher, but I won't do it again willingly, said the man with a Blackberry Priv.
  • It's not just the UX or RAM / SoC choices, but rather things like cameras, fingerprint scanners (later), etc. which OEMs couldn't freely innovate on. But yeah, WP7 wasn't that great for developers either (except for very simple apps, which were generally easier than on other platforms).
  • They can use any camera supported by the Qualcomm stack.
  • In WP7 days, I hear there were some serious limitations on it. Nowadays it's probably ok.
  • That was six years ago, yes... It has evolved quite a bit and doesn't ven run on the same codebase any longer.
  • Umm. No. Incorrect. It's because they adapted to smartphones too late. Do your homework
  • The smartphone market has like tripled since WP7, MS had plenty of time.
  • Tripled? No, it has gone up a lot more than that.
  • How???? I disagree. A small amount of enthusiast that decided that half baked concepts of Android running on x86 chips, is not conformation that the world might turn thier nose up at a full blown Surface Phone Pro running fully capable W10. Is that what you mean?
  • x86 on a phone is pointless. There is not a single x86 program that would be a good experience on a phone. Severely hampering your phone experience just so you can power a sub-par desktop experience from your phone doesn't make sense in the days of Ultrabooks and clouds. You are really reaching, even to make a niche use case. The market has spoken and Microsoft has finally listened. Windows phones are dead. Microsoft will be back with something new in a couple years. Maybe.
  • The point of x86 on a phone is to run legacy apps using Continuum, not in mobile mode. Your thinking too small scale. My wife uses and depends on Continuum every day and it works great and saves us a ton of money.
  • Obviously that is the idea, but what is the point when a $100 laptop or stick PC gives a far superior experience? It might make sense if PCs weren't dirt cheap. You are not saving money using Continuum despite what you have told yourself.
  • I work in IT consulting and I can guarantee you that no $100 computer stick offers comparable performance. The closest in speed are the models near $500 which negates the savings. I speak from experience seeing them used day to day in real work environments. Keep in mind this Dell would be a Core M which is far above the performance of an Atom. BTW I already owned the phone so even $100 is more than $0 besides that the location doesn't even have reliable internet so add that to the stick cost.
  • If you can fit a Core M into a phone, you can certainly fit it into a stick. Not to mention the Core M doesn't have cellular radios and would make for an absolutely terrible phone experience. You would be lucky to get an hour of screen on time. If you are worried about saving money, a $50 L650 gives the same basic experience as a Continuum phone and a $100 Moto G gives a far greater experience.
  • Again. I use those daily for work and no they don't offer the same experience. Not by a longshot. We use the cheap sticks for displaying open tickets or displaying info buy that's it. They crap out with much more. Even Chromesticks do the same at that low price point. Besides, you never addressed my point about clients who have poor internet. Do you suggest they also get a separate hotspot for that when they have a phone? More money for startups unjustified. As for radios and screen time, that is easily rectified though proper processor throttling. Laptops and tablets do the same thing. They only up fully when plugged in. The only issue that would be a challenge would be thermals for a small device when not throttles in the dock. That could limit upper performance buy overall its still money in the bank for business. You can say I haven't done the math or I don't know what I'm talking about but fact my work is doing it,successfully. We tried sticks and they do have usage scenarios buy they are not solutions to just blindly cut costs. There are problems they don't solve and can often create through blind usage. The usage scenarios I am talking about is where you don't get a bunch of cheap devices but one higher end such as a L950/XL or x3 and use it for everything. You also missed that with two devices you must deal with two cloud licenses and two management systems which increases cost and complexity of support.
  • You are really reaching for a niche use case. Any modern phone has hotspot built in and many laptops do as well. That doesn't justify a severely gimped desktop experience, especially if you need to pay for an x3 as well as the peripherals and the exorbitant cost of HP Workspace. You aren't saving any money there and you aren't getting premium hardware. Maybe some day x86 chips will be viable for mobile but by then x86 will be quite old and no longer a selling point except to maybe some businesses. That isn't a growth market. It is a niche legacy market at best. Microsoft isn't getting into this market for a reason.
  •   Doesn't seem so niche around here at least. I'm in an area with about 250,000 people. There are a lot of private practice professionals who are just starting out who don't have a lot of money and are looking for ways to stay lean. They aren't even permitted to lock their office so they leave little to nothing in it. People who have been around for a while don't mind spending a good chunck of change for a full desktop or laptop but a lot are new and don't have a lot of cash. Talking to them, a lot of their colleagues just starting out in other cities have the same problem and I can gaurantee you near 0% of them know what a Windows Mobile Phone is or Continuum, which by itself is a challenge but all are desperate for ways to keep costs low. As for HP Workspace, the prices are saw were pretty reasonable for what they are but in the cases I am talking about they are unnecessary as these are cloud based solutions. Others who would consider HP Workspace already have their own servers and don't usually need to pay anyone to host RDP for them. With the cloud portal, you gain access via a website with one login per device. They use Continuum as their desktop PC at work and only leave less than $100 in place. These people are also bound by HIPAA. If they are leaving the office quickly just unplug the phone and run and there is no potential liability left to worry about. Tehering would be a solution but more involved since it would manaully choosing the network during outages. With a seperate computer they would have to keep Windows up to date. Ever tried doing Windows Updates via tethering or via a crappy connection? They get paid by records entered, not attempted. An internet outage means lost time and lost money. No one I know is using an X3 yet. Those prices would have to come down first. Right now the 950/950xl are so cheap it's an easy choice. As for severely gimped experience, the only issue right now is multi-window but that has been the only thing. So far that is only minor. I've even seen them plug in random things into the doc and was surprised to see things I thought wouldn't work did. My own wife switched about 3-4 months ago and now she doesn't even want a computer. She feels it would be more hassle. Either way, I can't speak for all professions but consulting people in the medical field there is a huge untapped market that has a lot of potential.
  • Yeah you can put it in the small pc sticks but think about what your saying. They haven't don't that yet. They just haven't. If anything a phone will have more space
  • One device you pancake. Employees can be delivered a phone, and a docking station and monitors. Instead of a phone and a laptop and docking station and monitors. Cheaper, more efficient. Use that noodle of yours.
  • I guess the point would be to carry only one powerful device.
  • I hate when people shut down ideas just because they feel it's pointless. You do not have to get it if it comes out so don't try to stop it for the rest of us that would.
  • You love saying Windows Phone is dead, yet they are still selling, there are still fans using and talking about them, and MS is still updating it. The only thing that MS did was stop making them directly, so no more Lumia. Now we get them from HP, Acer, and Alcatel, etc. Not sure what the Windows Phone did to you, but you obviously don't want it to be around. You should get that checked...it's just a phone.
  • You are an idiot
  • I thought about it, and you could be right (hence my comment above)... The solution is more powerful mobile apps, and more powerful mobile processor's to push them.
  • Oh yeah. Your mind is severely "bleached" to the extent that all you see is gloom and doom even when nothing points in such direction. Who says windows phone is dead? Laughable. You wish to deny the fact that UWP concept has been able to bridge the uncertainties that trailed designing apps for all the various platforms. Now there is easy adaptability of apps to any platform on which it is installed, a SMART concept if you ask me. Availability of more powerful innards for phones coupled with more powerful but les resource gulping appears will further make the achievement a reality. Loosen up pal. Your pessimism and nay sayer attitude is outta the roof.
  • read the topic again and open up your lazy ass mind 
  • I'm buying it if it comes out.
  • Yes, Once again MS showing how much passion they have for mobile vs what fans, and OEM'S have.
    ...
    It's like MS doesn't know what they could do with WM, but they really do... The reality is that they have lost faith. Probably for the best right now, so that they can come back with a stronger mobile OS.
  • They can't do anything with Windows Mobile. That ship sailed years ago when they failed to innovate and adapt. The market has now matured without them and they have absolutely no path forward. Their only hope is to create or be ready to jump on the next big thing and that most certainly isn't going to be Windows Mobile. A few fanboys and pseudo phone manufacturers doesn't change that.
  • They didn't fail to innovate. They failed to sell themselves. I've listed previously 15 unique features Windows Mobile had that were useful every day that iOS and Android didn't have, yet. None where advertised by Microsoft.
  • Features that meant very little in the marketplace, especially compared to, say, the attractiveness of the platform to developers and to the app gap.  Microsoft's post-WP7 market share peaked with the 52* series, which was a very capable smart phone for the money.  Android blew by it, and Microsoft.  There was an excellent article recently in the financial press about how Ballmer totally missed the boat on this, first poo-pooing the iPhone, and then mistaking Apple for its competition, rather than Google.  
  • Windows Mobile was a dinosaur compared to Android at the time. WP7 was better but also well behind the competition.
  • I dont think they can ever come back with a stronger mobile OS with minimal resources dedicated towards that effort, the supposedly mobile focussed RS2 is now not mobile focussed anymore, WC says it is now gng to be RS4 - codeword for it is never happening.
  • I'm back on android for the moment. I wouldn't writeoff Win10M. It's still the best Mobile OS around. I've no doubt once a i86 or X64 Mobile soc becomes available they'll be back in the race again. The benefit MS have is their platform covers all manner of technologies and product streams. That's something the others simply don't have.
  • x86 isn't the future. It is a dying format. Microsoft already said they are working on an ARM+LTE device.
  • Yeah, like I said before, it's possible that ARM architecture could replace proccesors in desktops, and laptops, when they become more powerful, and mobile apps become full featured. Either that, or some new mobile processing architecture. Anything is possible.
  • Even if your claim were to be true, does the death of x86 translates to the death of windows phone?
  • My guess is the market for a product like this is quite small.  But it's also likely to be quite rabid.  And, I suspect, people would be willing to pay a pretty penny for products in the category. It can't be smaller than the market for WP, which is now under 0.3% of the smartphone market. At the least, the mere existence of devices of this kind would likely have a halo effect for the entire platform, since they'd start a whole lot of conversations among the technorati.
  • And I would've said shut up and take my money!! Please make this come to life somehow!!
  • It seems OEMs do care for and are interested in the W10M.
  • Yes ODMs and OEMs are interested but Microsoft is going at a snails pace at improving and adding features to W10M :(
  • By the way Microsoft is handling W10M we'd be lucky to even some high-end Continuum-enabled mobile devices by 2019.
    .
    (By the way, I am a true Windows user and switched to WP in 2014 after bad experiences with Android)
  • That's sad yet i couldn't hate msft for that...
  • But a bleached view above opined that Windows phone is dead. I bet he shut his mind to that obvious fact you stated above.
  • I want it.
  • I'm really glad to see that OEMs are interested in W10M. If only MS would feel the same...
  • Let it fit in my pocket and I will be OK.
  • At 6.4 inches, you'll probably need to ditch all your skinny jeans in favor of cargo pants.
  • Back to baggy again lol
  • Oh wait, I cannot fit these in my spandex pants :( I have no pockets
  • Dell + Windows 10 Mobile + Intel core Processor
    Awesome Experience ahead
  • How are Dell products are they a good oem as far as support? Thinkin **** getting a tablet from them
  • Their support sucks unless you have a business account with them.
  • I second that.
  • You don't even have to do that. Just but a business class system, such as Optiplex or Latitude and you get US tech support. Vostro and lower is offshore.
  • Even then its a send in and fix or swap right?
  • I've had a decent support experience with them over the years. I find most of the support I need on their website however.
  • If by that you mean DIY, then that is no support.
  • Enterprise users for HP, Fujitsu, and Dell are way better cause you have a 5+ year warranty period plus on-demand support
  • I don't know. Back in the day Dell released their WP7 phone - Venue Pro. It was awesome but they dropped support almost immediately. Eg. the very first Windows update bro