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.
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 including getting an account for your company.
- HP Elite x3 Full Review
- Elite x3 Discussion Forum
- Elite x3 FAQ
- Elite x3 news
- The HP Elite x3 is the best Windows phone yet (with some caveats)
- HP is betting on enterprise, not consumers with the Elite x3
- HP Elite x3 testing firmware update that enables charging LED, Windows Hello improvements and more
- Using Continuum for a week with the HP Elite x3
- Unboxing and hands-on with the HP Elite x3 superphone
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