The HP Workspace app turns the HP Elite x3 into a mobile productivity workhorse

Microsoft's Continuum is a powerful feature available with all high-end Windows 10 Mobile handsets that basically transforms your phone into a desktop-like experience. Right now, there are a few issues with it, mainly the fact that you can't run apps in windows, or run full desktop apps. We know windowed support is coming, but not being able to run desktop apps is an issue now and maybe forever — the architecture of phones just isn't set up to run full, heavy desktop programs.

HP is aware of this and knows it could be a serious impediment for enterprise types, so with the Elite x3 they built an app that can get around this: HP Workspace.

With the HP Workspace app, businesses can sign up to HP's service, request whatever desktop apps they want or need, and HP will host those apps for them on a virtualized server, beamed straight to your phone. This means you can run desktop apps on your Elite x3 in Continuum mode thanks to the HP Workspace app.

Our full review of the HP Elite x3

Keep in mind, this isn't technically running full desktop apps on your phone. Instead, HP will "stream" the app virtually from a full Windows system located somewhere else, meaning there will be a slight bit of lag between you pressing a button and it actually showing up on your virtualized environment, but the lag isn't terrible. If you're using a good connection, you shouldn't have any real issues manipulating windows or typing up documents.

You won't want to use this for playing games, however. The latency between you manipulating things within the virtual environment and the FPS you get back just aren't up to par, which is expected, nor is the 15 FPS frame rate all that great. This isn't for games anyway; this is service specifically for businesses who need to run their legacy/powerful programs whilst on the go with the Elite x3.

HP Workspace is a subscription service for small businesses who do not have the infrastructure to host their own servers for virtualization. HP Workspace is not cheap, but it is cheaper than hiring an IT department and buying servers — HP handles everything.

Workspace runs from $579 per year per employee for 40 hours of access every month for up to ten applications. A Premium plan is $939 per user per year with up to 80 hours of access with an unlimited number of virtualized applications. Finally, a $2,995 plan puts VPN on top of that for security. HP offers a free 60-day trial of the service.

Some neat features that the HP Workspace offers is the ability to directly link your Dropbox, Google Drive or Box accounts to the virtual environment, allowing you to upload and download files to and from your file sharing services with ease. You can also upload documents to the server directly from your phone, which is great if you need to open a Word document in the full Office suite, rather than the mobile versions.

I tried out a number of programs, including the full Office 2013 suite, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Slack, and a few others. They all worked as I expected them to as if I was running them on a real PC, because technically I was. Virtualization is a fancy term that means a remote computer runs a desktop app and pushes the interface it through the internet to another computer. You can still download and upload files, and even install browser extensions just like on a real PC, just remotely. A simpler analogy is HP Workspace acts as a middleman between the Elite x3 and your desktop app.

I can see this feature being extremely useful for businesses who still use older, legacy programs of a specialty nature, but as someone who's all-in on the UWP ecosystem, this isn't a necessity for me. I can get by using the built-in native apps on my phone with Continuum now, but having the option of streaming full desktop apps is also a bonus. The HP Workspace app can run on any Windows Phone, not just the Elite x3, although we assume most customers interested in the Workspace will be business-orientated and therefore likely already using the Elite x3.

You can find out more about HP Workspace directly from HP themselves (opens in new tab) including getting an account for your company.

See at HP (opens in new tab)

Further Reading

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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

  • This is awesome and I why I stated that CItrix needs to update their receiver app.  Glad to see HP putting emphasis on making the phone a true replacement.  As a Citrix admin I can tell that this is big for companies with a byod policy.  I may look into seeing if HP has any tools to offer to deliver applications for companies.
  • Is there any reason this should be WP only, though?   This should work exactly as well on Android and, if they can get a mouse working, iOS.   Also, "Dropbox, Google Drive or Box."  Notice anything missing?
  • I mean, you can have native OneDrive support on the phone already, so I'm not sure that's a huge deal. I can access my OneDrive files and upload them to the server/Office/Slack with no problem.
    "This should work exactly as well on Android and, if they can get a mouse working, iOS".
    Perhaps for Android. You do need the mouse/keyboard thing, but are there any Android desk docks or lap docks? Makes it more hacky I would think without those things. For now, it's just Windows 10 Mobile likely due to their ecosystem of support they already built.
  • Just out of curiosity. Does this function on cellular data, and if so, how bad is the data draw?
  • The compelling reason would be Continuum, and the excellent scalability of the UWP client
  • Thats true.. But then you listed all the things that Android and IOS "could" do!!! What is the thing that WP doesn't do and the others do?
  • Now that's a good point. The only that they do "more" is apps but that really isn't something that is a selling point for huge companies.
  • Wait...are you asking what Android and iOS can do that WP can't?  That'd be approximately everything.
  • Only if your everything is mobile apps. To me and many others, mobile apps arent a huge part of our life.
  • It's way beyond that. It's not just apps. It's a browser that barely works on many Web sites. It's peripherals that won't connect. It's payment terminals that don't accept it. Second rate hardware. Crappy cameras. Stuttering Bluetooth. Wi-Fi connection problems. Lousy typing experience. It's really, really hard to find things that work well on Windows Phones. It wasn't always. In many of those areas Windows Phones used to lead. But that's the sad reality, now.
  • I sense a cave missing a troll.
  • You can add to that the broken L2TP VPN that is not working on windows mobile now...
  • For business, the biggest selling points for W10M are security, managerability and Continuum.  X3 provides all those solutions.  BYOD is something that employees like but employers hate.  Workspace is probably targeting for the smaller businesses.  They have to pay HP for the virtualization services. The larger enterprises would most likely have their own virtualized app servers.
  • Wow! *_*
  • I saw the video and it's pretty cool...! I don't know why people are worried about windows phone future! Day by day I hope workspace and several virtualization apps improve and we can use our continuum based windows phone as a PC! Which in my view is better than iOS and Android apps!
  • By future, what do you mean? For me, this does nothing for the masses. This is some stride for the enterprise segment. But no individual is going to pay 500 -1000 USD for this feature. In fact, I dont see many businesses paying this amount too. 
  • Maintaining control over a fluid and temporary workforce and software licenses can be a plus worth the expense. For traditional workers and individuals, it would be an expense with questionable benefits.
  • Your view is myoptic. I can see other 3rd parties writing apps with similar capability that connect to corporate virtual machines that run their own legacy software. I can even see these apps connecting to your own pc at home running virtualized applications.
  • Despite the downvotes, you are right. What companies are stupid enough to invest in this device and this junk yard platform?
  • MS needs to make a UWP available to all that can do this with whatever app you have on a pc in your home. So you can run your own x86 apps when you are home. This would be a wise move imo. No need to be handcuffed to subcription services by HP and others for stuff you can do with stuff u already have.
  • You could try Team Viewer
  • So long as you've got access to a remote pc you can do this anyway. I've got an Azure hosted Windows 10 machine and I've RDP'd to it more than once on my 950. I think that if you use it correctly, it could easily work out cheaper than HP's solution.
  • That misses the point entirely. RDP has been around for ages and even works on iOS and Android. What MS needs is a way to stream apps directly to your phone without the need for HP's Workspace. It wouldn't be hard to do.  
  • Absolutely. Using RDP on a phone is awkward, and over the internet, securely, is not so user friendly. Why won't HP let me run my own Workspace server? I can live without the (undoubtedly excellent) resilience offered by HPs servers. Especially at that price. If HP make this an invaluable feature by offering a cheaper way to see what can be achieved with server software for customer use they would likely attract many of those customers to the resilience of their own servers. Also, having a customer server running means one can use apps not registered in the HP plan (as it is limited for the less eyewateringly expensive plan) and if time runs out on the plan, a secondary customer server adds MORE resilience not less.
  • Sunsetted Azure RemoteApp was meant to be the affordable option but MS discontinued it and now tells to go Citrix.
  • crap.
  • Constructive
  • Wait the target is small business now? $800 Phone, Data (If verizon good luck on that), $1000 a year subscription. Why would you not buy the employee a $200 phone and a laptop for that price?
  • No. HP Workspace is for SMBs (small and medium businesses) who do not have IT/server support for virtualization. Any big firm can do this on their own and not use HP Workspace. HP created a system for companies who want it, but do not have the infrastructure to enable this right now. It was smart as it does not alienate their customer base; instead, everyone has a solution.
    "Why would you not buy the employee a $200 phone and a laptop for that price?"
    Few reasons. You have to buy more licenses, you increased your IT support for the laptop, battery life is now an issue, laptops may not be as portable (unless you buy an expensive Ultrabook). There is also data protection, etc. I'm also not sure which "$200 phone" you would buy that an employee could do work on (not just email). The Elite x3 is not for everyone who wears a suit and works in an office, it's for specific industries like airlines, first responders, line workers, field agents, etc. where mobility is the priority. Do all employees need a full desktop PC with them at all times to access some documents, enter in data, and pull of media? Probably not.
  • So $1300 plus subscription in order to use a gimped version of Windows RT? For half that price you can have a far superior laptop and phone experience. This is a tough sell for small business. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Where did you get $1300? No one said that anywhere
  • The phone is $800 and the lapdock is $500. Simple addition.
  • Correction: HP lists the lapdock at a delusional $599.00*
  • Gimped RT is still supior to Android. And who said it's RT? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android.. But waiting for the HP Elite so I can get rid of this junkie Galaxy S5...
  • It isn't named RT, but it most certainly is the same thing. Only runs apps from the store and ARM processors. RT was actually much more useful as it had a full desktop. Android runs circles around Continuum with Free Form and actual apps available. Windows Mobile is dead for a reason.
  • How is it "gimped RT" when this article is about the HP Workspace app that allows the virtualisation of x86 apps!!!!
  • Wait, I didn't read the article. Does that subscription price include hardware lease? If not, this is insane pricing and makes no sense for small business. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah if you are a frie clerk at McDonald's. ... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android.. But waiting for the HP Elite so I can get rid of this junkie Galaxy S5...
  • How does $1300 in hardware as well as $1000+/year for Windows RT make sense for any small business? A Surface Pro and iPhone is way cheaper and gives a far superior experience. It would be a matter of minutes before I would throw this lapdock away and go back to my Surface Pro. So much faster, smaller and more capable. This is dumb. It will fail and HP will kill it within a year.
  • desperate fanboys voted you down :))) this huge price point does not make sens for anyone with their brain intact. Let the fanboys dream, in January maybe we will see some actual numbers that will prove the X3 was a complete failure because of the 599 for a dock :))) I wonder what are those guys at HP smoking?
  • "it's for specific industries like airlines, first responders, line workers, field agents".... Yup, because field agents are going to be carrying a monitor + Mouse + Keyboard 'where mobility is the priority'
  • Airlines, first responders, line workers, field agents. Actually they CAN use it you know. Here's my idea.
    Airlines/airports - large spaces readily available where they can have dedicated 'docking stations' for employees and even business/first class travellers (inside the lounge). Just plug in and use. The monitor-keyboard-mouse are already there !
    First responders - They can have a dedicated monitor-KB-Mouse in their respective vehicles and the various people in an unit can use it as and when required. Being first responders anyone in the law enforcement field can also use it if required.
    Line workers and field agents can be as already said. Employees who have to move around a lot and because of which carrying around a laptop becomes difficult. Just carry you PERSONAL mobile and plug and play. :).
    Also include HOSPITALS and HOTELS in this list with modifications.
  • "you increased your IT support for the laptop, battery life is now an issue, laptops may not be as portable (unless you buy an expensive Ultrabook). There is also data protection, etc."................I Same goes with the phone, its an extra device (Devices actually, Keyboard + mouse + Keyboard + Continuum Dock) to your IT support. With all the devices you need for this, I actually think a standard laptop would be more portable. Battery Life? Not sure about this, I feel laptops nowadays have good battery power. In fact, I'd say a phone could die quicker. Also, running these applications mean you have to have a data connection which in my view reduces portability. Data Protection? Not sure what you mean. But guys in our IT department actually sweat over people storing company data on our phones.
  • This phone has a giant battery. It lasts all day easy. And exactly. Data stored off site is a problem. Which is why this workspace thing makes more sense. You can store it on the server and not on your device.
  • Not all first line responders suit a subscription model well though Daniel. Take me, when a pollution event occurs it would be very handy to run x86 apps. If that pollution event lasts for months it would be really useful. But, it may be (hopefully, for all our sakes) a long time between incidents and years (hopefully many) between huge incidents. I can't justify a constant subscription and would revert to major luggage. I would have to accept the resiliency risks, if my kit were to die in dire circumstances I can always get someone to fly something to me. Heck, I once flew in an emergency IT team to rewire and essentially replace a small hotel's internet infrastructure in a few hours (comical looks on hotel staff faces came free), but only once so far. I can't spend out monthly for low likelihood resiliency for a single laptop just to save my luggage size. Now, if I could set up my own Workspace server to run for a few months in a pinch it would be really fine.
  • Daniel, I think you just need a big FAQ that explains point by point the benefits, usage occasions and target consumers for Continuum; then just link to that. It must be tiring to address the same questions and comments over and over and over. Posted from my Nexus 5X
  • This guy is asking the right questions!
  • 9Gag much?
  • One does not simply go through life without 9gaging
  • Enterprises that HP sells to don't buy $200 laptops. They spend a minumum $800, and ofter north of $1,500 per laptop. Business-grade systems are a bit more rugged and they are tech-stable, using long-life parts that remain available for years for service.
  • You mean the exact opposite of this?! This hardware will be outdated within a year.
  • I'm saying that the phones plus associated hardware is cost effective, especially when you factor in that not every phone needs a dock or other hardware, because there will be mo users than touchdown stations.
  • The lapdock is listed at $599.00, please tell me what sane company is going to look at that and think oh solid plan on saving money here... I would bet you at least 70% of the lapdocks sold will sit in the box or get at max 40 powered on hours on the clock before it goes to a shelf to sit quietly for the rest of it's life.
  • @Gunbust3r, I suspect LapDock's would be for specific people who need them, not everyone. I think the DeskDock will be much more popular, with one set at every touch-down station, so whover is there at the time just drops their phone in and gets the monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. Certain sales people or those who bounce back and forth between doing some field operations and office work would likely benefit from having the LapDock for when the phone screen is too small, but they are not at the desk to use the main DeskDock. But it seems like you're viewing the price compared with consumer-grade options. In general (of course there are some exceptions), enterprises don't use $200 - $400 PC's. They buy $1,500+ laptops, so yeah, even with the LapDock, this is a good deal. What makes it better is that they wouldn't need to provide a LapDock to everyone who gets the x3, just have a small pool for users to grab when they need that capability. Because all of the personalization is on the phone, the LapDock is just a generic shell, so any one available will do.
  • a good deal?? phone + lap dock =1300$ to run what? a junk yard OS, only virtualized apps only with a scubscriptio, so more $$, VS a 1000$ laptop that can run anything + a phone running a mature platform, not this bad joke windows 10 mobile
  • So, basically, a Remote Desktop?
  • "Hello Virginia, thank you for your apps" Haha xd This is very fascinating though, whoa.
  • Saying that it cannot run full desktop programs Forever, is a negative depiction of the Continuum, it's still fresh and new to the world just as a newborn. Re-coding and hardware advancement could bring about Continuum 2.0 kind of change, don't forget anything is possible today.
  • it cant and it wont, not without intel making the leap to a 7nm node, hoping that's enough to be comparable in energy efficiency to today arm processors, them maybe microsoft start developing windows mobile to an x86 architecture.
  • Yea! Citrix and Remote Desktop to the rescue!
  • A couple side notes, according to a HP rep AMA a while back anything heavy will be very laggy like game or PS no matter you connection, it was hosted on Amazon cloud. I other said why this over remote desktop?  
  • I guess cool. There will be corporations that will be willing to pay this.  I could not see the need. I run a server that is accessable via the internet, creating a small Windows 10 or even Windows 7 VM that is run off a SSD would not be too hard. Then install Team viewer or just put it in the DMZ for RDP access (or just setup a quick VPN), would be great for this. All Admins need to do is setup a server to do RDP for their employees and could save thousands a year and get better results. Or if they have desktops, just give them the details to access their workstations.
  • Wow @ those prices. Is this significantly better than TeamViewer or RDP? A business would surely already be hosting these apps (or be capabale of doing so?). I use Azure a lot, those prices buy you a hell of a VM from MS per month! And those can be Stopped/Started/scled up/scaled down etc.
  • Just remember, Teamviewer for personal use is free but, business use is very expensive.  A VPN with remote desktop to the employee's desktops would be the most cost effective and they can do all their work like they are sitting at their desk. Most places already have VPN's setup and just giving someone a quick shortcut to their desktop, problem resolved....and they dont need to buy anythng extra for it.
  • Basically TeamViewer on a big screen
  • this is great ...awesome this would be the start of the legacy again
  • I'm thinking about trying this out with a virtualized android environment. Might be a way to get a few crucial apps on my 950. Anyone tried it?
  • Even if it could done. Would you really spend 500+USD per year for this add on. Where you could only get 40 hours of app use per month. At 500USD, you might as well just buy a high end android phone and use the crucial apps.
  • I have iphone, ipads, galaxy notes, ZTE androids etc etc. I much much prefer the Windows interface. I already carry a spare android phone if there's apps I'm going to need. ​I also run several linux and windows servers internally and it just struck me I should be able to run remoteapp on my 950 linked in - at the simplest - to bluestacks on a server, hoepfully even straight to bluestacks app shortcut. That would give me direct access to the (small) number of android apps running on my 950. ​If it was something that worked I could imagine offering it as a service, but yeah, I suspect it might struggle to be a profitable business model. If I find the time I might test it for myself just for fun.
  • I think it is not so forward thinking complaining about not being to run win32 apps, they are legacy, better complain about their creators not moving forward to win64 and UWP.
  • The pricing is insane, it's almost like HP wants this product to fail. If you really need mobility and run legacy programs you can just get a Surface Pro at a cheaper price than the phone and the crazy subscription price that HP is asking. And of course the Surface Pro is better than the HP solution because you don't have to worry about having access to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. 
  • One that really wants to use windows mobile on his business can get a SP4 + a Lumia 950/XL instead of this joke HP solution
  • 40 hours per month? Seriously? So it's made for people who need desktop apps so much that in the end they don't need them more than 4 or 5 days a month. Or who probably already have another computer with the apps they need. And who could then use RDC / team viewer / whatever if they wanted to. Awesome...
  • Awesome tech. Innovative. But those prices.
  • So this is like having TeamViewer at home and connecting to my home PC through their uwp app, right? Much cheaper. But maybe not for enterprise.
  • or Azure remote App (or virtual desktop) thru Desktop remote app
  • Meh, nothing special compared to Remote Desktop app, same laggy PC-wannabe experience.
  • Maybe MS should make their own custom chip so users can run desktop apps in Continuum mode.
  • this basically same as Desktop remote of Azure RemoteApp or Resources
  • Streaming applications is the future anyway.