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Highs and Lows Part V: Microsoft's Smartphone Strategy; This is Not Your Father's Smartphone – Continuum

With Microsoft's ecosystem boldly boasting its presence on rival platforms through a proliferation of cross-platform apps, Redmond's mobile devices need a differentiator. Such a differentiator would allow Microsoft devices to showcase the synergy of products and services within the ecosystem in a way the same products on other platforms cannot. Enter Continuum.

Continuum

"Imagine the effect this can have on mobile first countries where individuals can be as productive with the phone they're buying if they can't buy a full PC," – Belfiore, Build 2015

Continuum for the phone was one of the most exciting announcements from Microsoft's Build Conference. As we know, Continuum on tablets and hybrids allows the Windows OS to switch between the traditional desktop environment and the touch-friendly Modern UI, depending on the hardware configuration.

If a device like the Microsoft Surface is connected to a keyboard, for example, the user is presented with the familiar desktop environment. Disconnecting the keyboard to use it as a tablet prompts the touch-friendly Modern UI. That was the extent of our understanding of Microsoft's Continuum before Build. Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP of Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, changed that when he announced Continuum for the phone.

Conceptually Continuum for the phone works in a similar manner as is does on a tablet. When a Windows 10 phone is connected to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, apps such as Office and Outlook behave just like their desktop counterparts.

Disconnect the aforementioned peripherals and your trusty Windows 10 phone reverts to the touch-friendly, "pocketable" mobile device you know and love. Essentially every person with a Windows 10 phone will have a light-weight, hybrid PC in their pockets. That's just cool. Tony Stark cool.

Bottoms Up

Belfiore noted that Continuum for the phone would require new hardware. This means that existing Windows Phones won't support the pioneering function. The new hardware will, however, based on the scenarios Belfiore shared during his presentation, be targeted at a range of individuals across diverse demographics. Business users in the office and families on vacation were among those mentioned. Notably, his above quote that expresses yet another scenario, clearly indicates that Continuum is headed for devices targeted at populations for whom a smartphone is likely their only computing device. We're talking about the mid to low-end. The "next billion".

We can infer from that quote that devices that will support Continuum will include the more affordable range of phones. This, of course, greatly increases the appeal of smartphones sporting Windows 10 Mobile. Whereas presently most Windows Phones purchased are bought because they are affordable, Continuum introduces a potentially game changing differentiator.

Users who cannot afford both a PC and a smartphone could see continuum enhanced Windows 10 phones as a dual purpose value option. A lightweight PC as well as a smartphone.

This, of course, provides consumers who are in the market for a new smartphone, particularly those with limited income, an additional reason to consider a Windows phone over Android or the iPhone.

Lumia 640

Middle Ground

An additional part of Microsoft's Continuum for phones strategy may be Redmond's positioning of the feature as an incentive to upgrade within its ecosystem of devices and services. If Continuum is first offered on mid-range devices and above, the millions of consumers acquired through Microsoft's low-end strategycould see it as a very appealing upgrade option.

For many in developing regions, a smartphone is their first internet connected device. Thus millions of users of low-end Windows Phones will have experienced mobile productivity for the first time, through products and services strategically designed to engage them with Microsoft's ecosystem. They will have likely learned that many productivity and lifestyle apps designed for mobile platforms are effective, but inherently limited in many respects by the form factors to which they are confined.

Users who will have grown accustomed to these mobile tools within Microsoft's ecosystem may find their liberated, PC-like, Continuum enhanced iterations even more appealing. The ability for a user's next smartphone to function like the PC they desire but can't afford, makes a Windows 10 phone a tantalizing upgrade option. Such a scenario could also play out among citizens and students with limited income in more affluent regions as well.

"We will plan across the company, so we can better deliver compelling integrated devices and services for the high-value experiences and core technologies around which we organize.

Continuum is a feature that is not only appealing to low-end smartphone users. Enthusiasts, enterprise users, students and a host of other potential users may find the ability to transform their smartphones into a PC-like experience very appealing.

Wheat and Tare; Harvest Time (Or Sleeper Agents)

Continuum also draws on the seeds that Microsoft has purposefully planted on rival platforms. A strategy we shared in part two of this series. Consider this; Office on iPhone and Android will seem pretty limited in comparison to the revamped version of Microsoft's productivity suite that will launch on Windows 10 Mobile. Why? On a Windows 10 smartphone the apps will have the full range of functionality, just as their iOS and Android counterparts. But, with the additional ability to transform into a PC-like experience with a simple connection to a monitor and keyboard.

This experience, of course, would not be limited to Microsoft Office apps. Every cross-platform app that Microsoft has so liberally planted on rival platforms (as shared in part four of this series) will be relegated to a second class experience. That is, with the advent of Continuum enhanced Windows 10 phones. Users who have come to enjoy the Microsoft experience on their respective platforms may find themselves drawn to a Windows phone seeking, as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella would say, the best Microsoft experience.

Wait. There's more. Microsoft's first party apps would be more than core platform offerings. They would be aspirational applications demonstrating the differentiating capacity of Continuum. Third party developers who see the value of Continuum on Windows 10 Mobile could then develop, where appropriate, Universal Windows versions of their apps taking advantage of this pioneering functionality.

Imagine a growing library of flexible Continuum enhanced Universal Windows apps, with iOS and Android counterparts of these apps that are stuck in the archaic environment of a "one dimensional" OS. An OS that is unable to conform to more intensive productivity needs and flexibility demands as Windows 10 Mobile will be able to do. Window phones will likely begin to grow in appeal among consumers as the OS proves capable of flexibility and functionality beyond anything Apple and Google are bringing to the table.

"Apps," you ask? By providing developers with the tools to convert their iOS, Android, and Win32 apps into Universal Windows apps, Microsoft has done virtually all that it can to answer the app gap problem. Time will tell if developers respond. Microsoft's focus now is differentiating its platform from the competition to make it more appealing to both consumers and the developers it so desperately needs.

This is Not Your Father's Smartphone; The Ideology of a Continuum Based Ecosystem

"In the next few years, we will see many more new categories evolve and experiences emerge that span a variety of devices of all screen sizes. Microsoft will be at the forefront of this innovation with a particular focus on dual users and their needs across work and life."

When we were first introduced to Continuum by way of the Surface, we envisioned it as simply a means for the Windows 8.1 dual user interface OS to easily conform to different hardware configurations. With Continuum for the phone however we see that it is more a conceptual ideology shaping the way Microsoft is approaching modern computing.

Computing is transient. Our work and leisure productivity needs are not confined to a type of device or a particular environment. We live much of our digital lives in the cloud and across devices. Both we and Microsoft know that. To create a computing environment that fits seamlessly into this paradigm, to avoid the abrupt hiccups encountered when a device or OS fails to flow with our needs, Microsoft is introducing an OS, device, and services ecosystem that is malleable. Continuum.

Continuum introduces the idea and presents the reality that a device and OS can be fundamentally designed to reshape to serve changing needs; to conform to multiple scenarios. Humans do it all the time. I think Microsoft believes that our devices, which are increasingly more a part of us, should too.

High-End Hold Up

Despite a yearning by fans, I believe that foresight has restrained Microsoft from introducing high-end Windows Phones into the mobile fray of late. That knowing before Windows 10 and Continuum, Windows Phone 8.1 simply does not possess a compelling enough differentiator to entice entrenched users of other platforms.

Of course, that conclusion wasn't reached through mere speculation. The experience was the brutal teacher. Live tiles, Cortana and the unique Windows Phone UI are all appealing parts of the Windows Phone experience. These aspects of the platform, however, just didn't have enough consumer appeal to provoke Redmond to hazard another play with an expensive high-end device sporting its obscure Windows Phone 8.1 platform.

With the record setting success of the iPhone 6/Plus and Samsung's and other Android high-end offerings, a high-end Windows Phone 8.1 device, as others before it, would have gone largely unnoticed in the market.

Its failure would have likely been lauded by the tech media fueling negative consumer perception of Windows Phone as Microsoft prepares to launch its ambitious Windows 10 platform. Who needs that?

Windows 10 Mobile with Continuum, I believe, changes Microsoft's fortunes. It conceivably adds something to the mix that general users from all platforms will find appealing and that the media will find exciting. Continuum, I think, will be widely coveted.

Take "Note"; In a "Galaxy" Not So Far Away - The Evolution of Continuum

I know most Windows Phone enthusiasts are waiting for high-end devices with killer specs. I'm certain Microsoft will deliver. But that's not what's going to sell Windows 10 phones. High-end specs, quite frankly, are the price of admission. They'll simply get Microsoft branded smartphones a seat at the table. Nothing more.

Apple, Samsung, LG and others all have successful high-end devices in the market. They're known by consumers and are linked to ecosystems they have bought into. Differentiation is what will sell Windows Phones. Continuum, coupled with a uniform platform and universal apps I believe, is what Microsoft is positioning as that differentiator.

Additionally, as an ideology directing Microsoft's approach to modern computing I think we will see Continuum manifest in other ways as well. There have been leaks of what appear to be flagship Windows 10 phones. According to what has been shared of these great devices thus far, however, I don't think they represent the epitome of what Microsoft envisions as a blockbuster debut of a flagship Windows 10 phone.

Especially when one considers the precedent of the synergy of hardware and software the company set with their premiere tablet the Surface Pro 3, which Satya Nadella uses as a shining example of upcoming products.

Our first-party devices will light up digital work and life. Surface Pro 3 is a great example – it is the world's best productivity tablet. In addition, we will build first-party hardware to stimulate more demand for the entire Windows ecosystem. That means at times we'll develop new categories like we did with Surface. It also means we will responsibly make the market for Windows Phone, which is our goal with the Nokia devices and services acquisition.– Satya Nadella

That, with the recent purchase of N-trig, the Israeli-based company responsible for the popular OneNote connected side kick to the Surface Pro 3, leads me to believe a "noteworthy" new category of Windows phone may be on the horizon.

Do you see what I see?

Sound off in comments and on Twitter @JLTechWord

See you in Part VI-Noteworthy

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

174 Comments
  • If you're using the mobile app for a quick recap of this series and a place to find all five pieces that have been published thus far just follow this link! https://sway.com/3c7ps-307v8Z76fd
  • Continuum can be used wirelessly using Miracast, I saw that in a video demo from Build 2015, it was a working hardware
  • Yes t can be used wirelessly via Miracast.  No, that was not working hardware at Build, it was a simulator. Belfiore said it himself.
  • Whoops, looks like I was wrong, they did have some of the hardwear at Build.  My bad.
  • Only this guy can write a long article that isn't boring!
  • @Pallav Thanks man! I appreciate that. Glad you are enjoying these pieces. :-)
  • Jason,
    I respect your view but beg to differ. All this amounts to (so far) is largely iteration of Miracast into a two way protocol.
    Useful yes, but not a proper leap towards a 'Continuum' vision, and this is why I thought Build and Computex were actually both rather disappointing.
    For a proper Continuum, we need not only devices to connect to other screens, but true, seamless session transfer across devices. Where were the services, developer and hardware standards to support that?
    I want to be able to instantly transfer my authenticated login and app sessions instantly with an NFC tap of one device on a another. Tap my phone on a desktop or Surface Hub to transfer my session. Tap my phone to transfer back. Tap it on the dumb terminal or in-flight console. Etc. That's Continuum.
    No doubt it will require some clever Windows as a service shadowing or virtual desktop mirroring in the cloud or whatever, and is also no doubt a couple of years off, but it will all start with security, NFC and connectivity standards etc and that is all sorely lacking.
    Miracast 2? Yawn.
  • @mildmanneredjanitor Thanks for the input. I appreciate you offering your perspective. I like the vision you present here. :-)
  • Not mine, Microsoft's own concept videos from years ago. Plenty on youtube. The Build demo was a pale imitation.
    I just don't understand why they aren't building the foundational standards, especially with the manufacturers. Why don't screens have built in nfc arrays for example? Even for the phone continuum that would be a nice way to transfer content.
  • I like your vision and could see the usefulness of tap and follow desktops. I personally would prefer that my phone could be my sole device and screens for tablet, desktop and hub use would just be an accessory. I think MS could achieve this if they provided a free personal edition of Azure Remote Desktop with every phone that support Continuum.
  • Continuum will be a killer feature. But I fear one thing, or rather one set of things, will make it totally irrelevant in the US: carriers. Microsoft needs to start selling the unlocked, unbranded version of a phone within days of announcing it. Case in point: the 640 and 640XL. They were announced so long ago that their days' ago availability is kind of like a why bother when the next model isn't all that far away anymore. All the carriers have some kind of bring your own phone option, so Microsoft might as well cater to that, especially since those same carriers are still largely ignoring Windows Phone and will probably continue doing so.
  • And not onlt that... they need to provide as cheapely to the rest of the world as they do in US... Any of the unlocked phones available through MS Store/Amazon/BestBuys are much cheaper in comparison to Canada/Europe.... E.g. Lumia 635 available in US for less than $60 while in Canada its close to 130 and in UK its close to 100 pounds
  • For outside the US you need to add the relevant taxes!
  • It's really surprise me on howlong does it take for MS to launch 640 in the US. hehe
    Here? people really love it. They compare the 640XL to the Iphone6
  • As I understand it at launch only high end phones will support continuum. So the idea that this becomes a hit in mobile first countries seems like they would also need to have continuum work in mid to low end phones as well since that's what's selling in mobile first countries.
  • What is high and this year is low end just a couple down the line. That said, Continuum only really gets "interesting" on an Intel phone.
  • What do you think an Intel phone would give you that arm doesn't? Considering it would run the same apps?
    Even if it could run desktop apps, you really wouldn't want to on it due to performance. Universal apps is the way to go on phones which is already supported
  • Give me an ASUS Zenfone 2 with windows 10 and continuum and I'd be happy.
  • IF ONLY! Love that freaking phone. I've even tweeted Asus NA about it, but to no avail. They don't consider Windows an actual Mobile player.
  • Or they just can't talk about unannounced products. Sometimes, silence is the best indication that something is happening.
  • @NoFlames Exactly. It will have to become a hit in mobile first countries, and Id venture to say the buyers of mid to low end devices in developed regions as well. Belfiore's comments seem to really convey that that is indeed the goal. Continuum wont be limited to high end devices. Though it is certainly a welcome and useful function (at least in my opinion) on devices across all price points.
  • @Jason Ward, Continuum won't be limited however quoting Joe belfiore here: "to drive two screens new hardware is needed", so this could be interpreted in three different ways:
    1) only high end SOC is capable so only high end phones.
    Or
    2) they are waiting on Qualcomm to make available the capable SOCs for each tier
    Or
    3) they limit the ability to drive two screens to only the flagship phones despite capable SOCs are available for each tier.
  • I couldn't disagree with this article more.  I hate Continuum.  I LOVE the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 approach, without reservation.  What Microsoft has done, as far as I'm concerned, is create a Frankenstein's monster with their operating system and it ruins the experience.
  • You hate something you haven't used yet? That's pretty amazing.
  • Haven't used?  I've been testing Windows 10 TP since the beginning.  I've been putting up with Continuum since it was added to the builds.
  • You most certainly have not been using Continuum. You don't even own the equipment able to run it, no one does. Do you even know what Continuum is? It sounds like you think it's the Windows Mobile 10 UI, it isn't.
  • Don't you wanna progress further in life..?
    Anyway, you don't account for everyone.
  • I was "progressing" just fine with Windows 8 and WP8, which are, in my opinion, infinitely better than W10.  And there's a reason I included "as far as I'm concerned".  Sheesh, people.
  • you're a minority, with devices like the Intel Compute Stick which can have a full desktop with 4K capability on a stick or Bluetooth keyboard + Miracast support on Windows Phone device like the Lumia 1520 or the 930 the line between a phone and a PC is closing so much that having Windows 10 to adapt to your device form factor automatically is the greatest achievement since Microsoft launched Windows 3.1 back in the 1990s.
  • The "tablet mode" concept is currently broken, I agree, but the hand has been forced with declining tablet sales and desktop programs that devs don't have the strength of vision to make touch-friendly. Things will get more integrated, just at the snail's pace that is usually relegated to government. The dev "bureaucrats" killed W8, and the lack of touch apps is dragging tablet sales down hard as a result. This will change as the ecosystem evolves, but it won't appear out of nowhere like MS hoped with the last OS.
  • I agree Windows 10 is horrid on tablets. Windows 8.x for the win. That being said tablets do not account for their market share.
  • @Scuabdog Thanks for your feedback. :-) Hopefully the majority of the market will be of the opinion that Continuum is something that they find appealing. It's what Microsoft has invested in and a strategy they have embarked upon. For the sake of the platform, lets hope that consumers perceive the value it adds to the ecosystem/platform. Along with all the other goodies Windows 10 brings I think Microsoft is offering a great alternative to the iPhone and Android crowd. :-)
  • *Tony Stark cool lol
  • @ScubaDog, I think these are somewhat apples & oranges or skis & automobiles -- Continuum on the phone enables an entirely different and new experience -- the ability to use the phone as a real Windows computer. I think that's interesting independent of how good the tablet-version of the UI is at present. I suspect that we'll see improvement on both the KVM and tablet user sides over time. Continuum will benefit from all of that. To your specific point, just my own opinion here, I like the Windows 8.1 tablet interface. I enjoy using Modern apps. However, I deeply resent having to bounce between screens. I hate that there are desktop apps and Metro/Modern apps. I think it's a UI abomination to have to go to a separate start "screen" to review my apps and launch one (unless I've pinned it to the Taskbar or put a non-live tile on my desktop, of course). I for one am glad they've re-unified the desktop with Modern apps. That's not to say I don't want to preserve as much of teh gesture and Modern functionality as possible within those apps. I don't have enough experience with Windows 10 to have an opninion on that yet, but I suspect I'll agree with you on much of that, except for the parts about keeping Modern apps in an isolated tablet mode apart from the desktop apps -- I'm very glad that's gone. But I also believe the gesture and tablet functions will improve over time, now that we have a sane, integrated foundation. For me, Continuum (especially this radical new implementation for phones) is a brilliant concept that should ultimately drive more users to have experience with the tablet side. This in turn will make app developers more interested in supporting Windows tablets, which ultimately gets you what you want.
  • Your hint has been 'noted' ;-)
  • So the big new innovation in smartphones will be bringing back the main feature of the Palm Pilot. :p Not to say that it isn't a great feature to have. I will definitely consider getting a phone with a pen when they're available. My girlfriend might be really interested in it to, because she much prefers handwriting over typing, at least when it comes to notes.
  • @FredBloggs007 You note that my hint has been noted is noted. ;-)
  • In future news: Continuum ported to iOS and Android, updated first and made better on those platforms.
    Remember when Cortana was supposed to be the differentiator.
  • The supporters and fanboys made Cortana or Microsoft Office as the differentiators, Microsoft never said anything like that ever.
  • Good point. They also never said that about Continuum either.
  • If iOS and Android can run Windows 10 Universal apps. I doubt it.
  • Didn't Satya say during Build that he wants people to move from needing windows to Loving windows... Do you make people love Windows by making apps & services appear first on iOS/Android or US/UK only??
  • Just for the record, Continuum is not an app. It's a feature integrated into the OS. Microsoft can't just build an app for iDroid that can make Continuum happen. Remember universal apps? They make Continuum happen.
  • The comparison is not appropiate at all, and at several ways at that. First of all, Cortana is a SERVICE while Continuum is an OS FEATURE. Microsoft wants people to be able to use their services on any device, they aren't going to port basic Windows features and functionalities to other platform. There is not the slightest benefit to Microsoft in that. Second, that would not even be possible - not on Android without the modifying the system (which would be implying releasing their own Android fork) and definitely not on iOS. The Android fork is the only plausible scenario in my opinion - and that's not going to happen while they are still giving Windows a chance on phones. If they decide to discontinue Windows for phones at some point in the future, an Android fork could of course happen, including a chance for features like Continuum. We are not there, though.
  • That comment from Joe is dumb as hell. A new phone with continuum will be $600. How can someone afford that and not a new PC ?
  • Dont forget they still need to purchase a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
  • RAM, speakers, SMPS, Graphics Card, HDD, and a cabinet to carry em all.
  • Also don't forget that people may only be able to spend $600 on one or the other. A phone makes more sense to have than a PC.
  • He was implying that Continuum may be available on more affordable devices as well.  At least mid-tier devices.
  • Don't forget about carrier discounts. Some people don't even blink at a 2 year contract or monthly payments. 
  • Where did you read that the phone will be $600? I did not hear Microsoft say anything about it. Please provide the link.
  • I'm with sully on the $600. No flagship-level phone will cost less. Spread those payments out however you like, but the price will still be$600+ for the first models supporting Continuum. Continuum on lower tier models won't happen for at least a year.
  • @Wpguy, a flagship phone can be had for $600 dollars. If you spread your payments over monthly obviously your paying more - how do you think carriers make money?
    (note: this is just one of many revenue streams).
  • Because their choice will be a $600 phone (that can be carried with them and fill the necessary phone role as well), OR a new PC (that can't go with them and can't fill that mobile phone role). I'd guess that those in a situation where they have neither, the phone will win that debate in most cases.
  • To the Microsoft faithful, Continuum may seem to be a worthwhile differentiator. To regular ios and android users who have already moved on from the old paradigm of mouse and keyboard computing and already own a tablet of some sort I dont think they will see it as being a particularly attractive feature worth switching ecosystems for. And as the hardware supporting it will be of the high end variety, its not going to see the level of uptake speculated in the article in countries that lean towards the lower end of the device spectrum.
  • "I dont think they will see it as being a particularly attractive feature worth switching ecosystems for" I agree but on the other hand it's rarely a single feature that makes the difference between switching the ecosystem or not. It's the sum of small and not so small things and Continuum may of course contribute to that - we'll have to see. It's certainly kind of a niche feature not everyone from the masses is going to jump at (or at least in the short to mid term), but not everything has to be a mass product to be succesful in its own right - see the Surface Pro 3, for instance.
  • Pretty much what I think about it. I for one don't really care about Continuum.. If I have a monitor, keyboard and mouse it's because they are already part of a desktop PC.. So why using my phone to do the same thing I can do on the desktop and probably with better performance? I feel like it's a really niche feature.. Don't know if it could be a game changer in emerging markets, it might be or it might not.. What I get from this article is that Microsoft is targeting emerging markets and we customers in Europe and USA should not expect anything to be worth buying over the competition. Also, the lack of flagship devices in EU and the USA is (imho) hurting sales, here people buy galaxy Ace or whatever they're called because they look at the Galaxy S and think they must be at least similar to a certain extent.. my carrier doesn't even have Wp's on contract anymore.. And I'm in Italy, one of the countries where Wp has a double digit market share.
  • There are two places that I can see Continuum making waves - business and education. A lot of travelling execs I know don't need a full fledged computer to do work on the road. Yes, a lot of them carry around an iPad with their shitty 3rd party keyboard attachments (ah, see that, a keyboard). It's mostly for them to check/respond to emails, view spreadsheets and run a presentation. They also want to travel light which is why they bring an iPad - on a sidenote, I've gotten a couple execs to buy a SP3 because of the light form factor with full capabilities. Now, if all they needed was to run a few presentations for their 1-2 day trip, Contiuum on a phone would be perfect. The enterprise space is where it will shine. As for schools, Chromebooks have been dominating the classrooms. I have a hand in the decision making process and the biggest reason why they're so popular is because they're cheap. Also, students aren't running anything super complex, so a cheap shitty Chromebook with an affordable price is enough to get schools moving to upgrade the classroom. There's a thing about $150-$200 Atom process laptops running Windows that makes more sense, but that's for another time. Students in the later grades (middle and up) are already carrying cell phones and most of them have laptops. MS can offer Education pricing for Continuum phones which will take care of both of that. The way I've seen computers being used in the classroom has been internet searches (Bing, Spartan Browser), presentations (PowerPoint) and report writing (Word). If they target them this way, it would be great from a cost, maintenance perspective since the student would own the device. Anyways, look at this beyond the Consumer market. Even I don't have a huge need for Continuum, but if I had it, I'd probably connect my phone to my 60" TV every now and then and control it with my BT home theater-type keyboard to do a little work.
  • Great point on education and as a way to fight Google in this space. I hadn't thought of that at all. I also didn't know that Chromebooks were doing well in this space. Ugh. That's just what we need -- kids learning Google Docs versions of actual productivity tools. That's a great way to lower the productivity of the country for the next generation.
  • Believe me, I've been fighting it. Office is for enterprise. Why wouldn't we want to teach kids enterprise level software if they could? If you're interested, here's a thread about my experience trying to fight Chromebooks in the classroom: http://forums.windowscentral.com/windows-8/333404-pc-vs-chromebooks-schools-resistance-futile.html
  • @theefman I hear your point. And thanks for the input. But though tablets (which have seen a decline in sales) may be owned by many iOS and android users, means that for "some" computing functions many have moved on from mouse and keyboard computing; there are still many practical use case scenarios, thus a market, where "mouse and keyboard" computing still has a place in our increasingly mobile world. One point to this is that though ipad sales have dropped, there is an increasing market for hybrid/2-in-1 devices that are not measured in some of the surveys that show us device sales. These devices of course, utilize peripherals such as a mouse and a keyboard. Second, there are 1.5 billion PC's in homes and businesses on the planet. That indicates that many iOS and android users have a PC that they also use for tasks that involve a mouse or keyboard. The appeal of a Continuum enhanced smartphone that could easily transform the living room TV into a monitor after watching a movie so that someone could sit up and finish a report or type an essay, navigate mail or use some third part app that takes advantage of the feature may appeal to these iOS and Android users who are more than likely part of that 1.5 billion with a PC. Also as noted in the article Belfiores statement is clear that the Continuum feature is also headed for devices targeting mobile first regions. If that is the case then the devise will at least his the mid tier of the affordable range of devices. :-) These are my insights. You are definitely welcome to offer a different perspective. Thanks for participating in the discussion! :-)
  • Even many iOS and Android users are also Windows PC users, especially at work. There's little opportunity for any integration between Android and iOS devices with their PC. With Continuum, their phone could be their PC. Employers currently provide mobile employees with a phone and a computer, often a laptop. Now they can either drop the laptop expense or shift to a less expensive desktop workstation plus a phone with Continuum. I believe MS has said that Bluetooth keyboards and mice will work. Perhaps we'll see the main business hotel chains start including bluetooth keyboards and mice in the rooms, along with the Wi-Fi that has become standard. If that happens (seems reasonably likely, because these would also work with iPads, etc.), then business travelers wouldn't need to carry anything but their phone, and would still have full productivity when they retreat to their room. These are valid, transformational benefits to businesses. And if a business can save money without sacrificing the morale or productivity of its people, it will do it.
     
  • You're right, high-end specs are just like an admission fee. Continuum, Cortana, Universal Apps, Unified OS, and Microsoft's other services and products connected together will make the difference. Waiting for the nearing flagship eagerly. Nice one again Jason.
  • @Aman2901 Thanks for the support!
  • LOL it s so true, iPhones are boring things for oldies, flat brained with no personality sheep minds.
  • Just a symbol, nothing more.
  •  It all sounds great, but I still don't think the lack of high end phones is helping their cause.  If they had a good phone on AT&T, I wouldn't have a GS5 Active in my pocket right now. BTW, anyone know how to flash a GS5 Active with WP8.1 ?
  • You can't do that. Just doesn't work
  • That was really just tongue-in-cheek, but hey, I'm sure someone can make it work.  Certainly not me, but someone, lol.  I saw someone put Windows XP on a smart watch, so anything is possible.  But it was really just meant to convey that I love my phone's hardware, but wish it was running WP
  • Oh, I feel the same way. I really want a Z3, but I love windows phone too much to go with android. If the Xiaomi phone flashed with windows phone works out, we could see it happening...
  • Yeah, that's the first thing I thought of when I read that article: I hope someone makes this a widely available ROM to flash to my phone.  But since it's the Active, not the S5, that may screw me up, if it's hardware specific.  But one that took advantage of the extra key, to be like a Lumia camera button, that would be perfect!
  • Plenty of WP on AT&T.
  • I wasn't about to buy a Phablet with no stylus support (1520), and the 1020 was just too slow for me, despite the great camera.  And the 830 wasn't available yet.  If the 830 was available at the time, or they had actually let AT&T carry the 930, I would've gotten one of those.
  • The One M8 is ~= the G5.
  • Can't remember why I didn't look at that... Was it available back in October? Edit: Just checked again, 5MP camera would be why.  That would be M8<G5A
  • You might be able to flash it with Windows 10 Mobile....
  • That would be awesome.  Maybe by the time my contract is up, I can do that and run it as a spare.  And if I can use the "Activity Key" as a shutter button, even better!  
  • I completely agree. They've killed any traction they got with the Lumia 900/920/1520 range. Phones like those are all about having a successor with killer specs - see Galaxy series, Note series, Z series and the iPhone. What they have done instead is: Make a phone, forget it is there, focus on the next update and then promote something else completely. And in that process, they've managed to dominate nothing. There is a reason why even the cheap versions of iPhones sell a lot. There is a brand name in there...people expect it to function like a proper iPhone. Windows already has that covered - doesn't need high end specs to be smooth. All they needed was a focused approach. Should have made ONLY ONE low end device that had great specs but had the brand behind it, follow that up with a high end monster and a phablet and maybe a novelty like the 1020. Instead, they have approached this like Blackberry - lets keep churning out new names and numbers without any sense to them. What's absolutely baffling though is the lack of a flagship. "Windows 10 is more appropriate for one" isn't an excuse. Just means that you've given up on your current OS. 10 won't be an automatic savior. They're running in circles with the mobile division. Came so close to buying a Z3. Don't think I'll be holding back the next time around.
  • I've thought about a 640 just to play with and try out 10 (and as a backup phone), but just can't justify it yet, especially since I have a newborn and 3 yr old at home.  DIapers and formula man, just crazy how it adds up   Hopefully they have a decent flagship when I'm due for an upgrade next year.  Hopefully....
  • Awesome article, really liked the part about Tony Stark. Looking forward for the Part VI.
  • Thanks @Royden. :-) Yeah, the currently technology is becoming more like what was/is sci-fi. I love it!
  • Ok ill wait a little longer ! Yes im holding out for a flagship. I loved my 920 and my 1520. And hopefully since this is the " last version of windows" we shouldn't have to wait for a new version of the os for flagships to come out....hopefully . Flagships seem to last a bit longer than budget phones
  • So basically our phones could out power things like the hp stream with its 2gb ram and 32gb hard drive and virtually every tablet in the world. Plus we could destroy the limited chromebooks. Now to really push the envelope Microsoft could allow exe programs to run when phones go to big windows
  • It could be a viable solution in the education market. Lots of middle school kids are already walking around with phones. Most have computers to use in the classroom. Imagine one device that does both. It would be a contender to the Chromebooks dominating the classrooms right now.
  • Chromebooks are in classrooms, but they are far from dominating.  There were a total of 2.1 million Chromebooks sold for all of 2014.  I believe there are far more than 2.1 million students in the world, or even in the US.  They make headlines, Google is a master manipulator of press and people, but the reality is Chromebooks are an inconsequential percentage, even in the narrow markets that actually buy them.
  • This may be more regional if anything. In my child's district, a lot of schools are adopting and the IT director is nudging everyone to go Chromebooks too. I had a thread about my experience in upgrading the classrooms for the school here if you're interested: http://forums.windowscentral.com/windows-8/333404-pc-vs-chromebooks-schools-resistance-futile.html
  • Surface Phone with pen, kickstand, and Continum. Or a built in projector?
  • As nice as a projector would be, it would just add too much bulk and heat, while killing the battery faster.  Other manufacturers have tried thatm with very little success.  But I'm all for a Galaxy Note style phone.  Maybe call it the "Surface One Note", but it may get a little creepy when people start calling their phone "S.O.N"
  • here is another idea an Intel Compute Stick with dual OS booting capability so you can choose to boot Windows 10 Mobile or Windows 10 for desktop. All we now need is a partnership between Microsoft and display giant OEMs like Dell, Samsung or LG so you can get a ultra thin 7" or 10" touchscreen which supports Surface Pen, has a HDMI input and you can convert this dumb touchscreen into a tablet using the stick. Just my 2 cents.
  • Oh man, thats a great idea! Maybe even set some standards for the stick dimensions so every monitor has a groove to fit the stick so it doesnt "stick out" very much ;)
  • This is all well and good, but if I can't buy the phone that I want (e.g., Lumia 640), ask if this talk does not mean anything. Get the marketing and distribution up to speed first.
  • Exactly - and work out how to release 95% of the features WORLDWIDE instead of making other markets wait anywhere from 6 months to 4 years!!!
  • Further, if you can't buy the phone you want on the carrier you want, it's a non-starter. Carrier exclusivity deals MUST END.
  • I'm not sure the vision of/ for Microsoft could have been better articulated.  There are several interesting (and, for some, obvious) points in this article that help explain the motivations behind what has clearly been a strategy years in the making. There is reality and data driving decisions.  I am pretty excited to see what Microsoft cooks up as the "entrance fee" of high-end phone market, but I am still curious about how the market will react. I mean, it's one thing for a phone to be a daily driver of some work and mostly social, but to be potentially both if and when you need it?  I loved WP Excel and OneNote, for instance, but to know I could impromptu do real full featured work just by presence of display and keyboard is definitely a turn-on.  I suppose we'll see. The detractors will no doubt make references to stuff originally introduced as fluff/ novelty-distractions already existing as a "available features" (i.e. keyboard/mouse, etc) and perhaps even comment on the borrowings of features which were definitely lacking in WP.  None-of-it-matters if it doesn't get used or have a clear use-case.  Novelty only lasts so long, ask Siri.  Whether or not Microsoft fails in their latest long and drawn out endeavor matters a lot, but for me it all represents a pretty remarkable and stark change in what they represent.  I was fine with the 90s public image of big-bad-corporate-ever-threatening "monopoly" Microsoft, but it's tune has change and it is backing word up with actions: it has been innovating like hell.  It's so weird to see competitors that once were following pointing figures turn into the very beast they condemned. 
  • @RayWp7 Thanks for that input! It will certainly be interesting to see how Microsoft's executes. I think their strategy is a good one, particularly considering their underdog position. They really needed to be calculating and patient. I think we are on the verge of seeing some great things! Let's hope they can grab the publics interest.
  • Need continuum in the upcoming Lumia 740
  • And it makes sense to release high-end with polished OS. Lets see how polished is Win 10  gonna be, until then hail L1520.
  • I just hope they advertise this like hell. Continuum can really attract people. They can have ads which actually show how it actually works.
  • So sad.. My friend had to search in three stores for a Windows Phone like 930. After about 1 hour we gave up. Stores just don't sell Windows Phones(we found the 530 tho)
  • Will you also be able to play the games that are on your phone with continuum? I have not seen that mentioned yet.
  • This makes sense to me. I know I'm getting very impatient waiting for a new High End Lumia, but it makes complete sense for Msoft to wait until they have the proper software ready. The mobile market isn't a limited market. The same people buying phones today, will be the same people buying phones next year. The entire mobile market is dynamic, it isn't static. Also just think of all the people who are introduced to the mobile market each year. Kids growing up and going to school. I would've LOVED to have the features that Msoft 10 is promising for mobile when I was in school. Imagine typing up your homework on your phone, or working on an essay or PowerPoint, and then using your phone as a PC to display the presentation in class. So awesome! Windows 10 mobile will be so amazing when it comes out. I'll gladly wait for the next high end device.
  • Microsoft got a strategy for smartphones? It must be the worst strategy I have seen cause 2.5% market share speaks a lot about their failure
  • Microsoft plans to sell 1 billion devices with Windows 10 by end of 2016. I think this is possible despite having a low expectation on smartphones and phablets here is why: 1) Devices like Intel Compute Stick are going to sell for hundreds of millions since they convert a dumb TV in a Smart TV. 2) Tablets and convertibles are going to grow a lot in the coming months. Big OEMs like Samsung are not building any new tablets with Android anymore, looks like Android on the tablet will become a niche market and Windows will be competing with the iPad to get the first place 3) Business Laptops and Ultrabooks will now have much more popularity in emerging markets due to the lower costs of materials and high end Broadwell CPUs 4) Don't forget about Xbox One and gamers, for the former, they are now taking advantage of external graphics cards which can be connected to laptops or docks to convert a gaming laptop into gaming desktop for example.
  • "Microsoft plans to sell 1 billion devices with Windows 10 by end of 2016."   That is not accurate.  Their goal is to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 by 2018.  That would include existing devices, plus new sales.  They could sell 1 billion devices alone by 2018.  Over 300m Windows devices are sold annually now.  If Windows 10 is a success, that number could significantly increase.  With 100s of millions of Windows 10 upgrades, they could easily blow past the 1 billion devices target.
  • These are the articles that made me switch to Windows Central, I think this is the best part of the series. Great job WC. If you haven't read the rest of the series, they are recommended, a must if you are using Windows products (Office, PC, Outlook, OneNote, Xbox, etc).
  • @Thanks for the support Gabriel1 :-) If you would like to help get people on board with us as we explore Microsoft's smartphone strategy, please share this SWAY https://sway.com/3c7ps-307v8Z76fd which has the links to ALL of the Windows Central articles published in this series thus far! You can also share it from the SWAY itself that is embedded in the body of this article (if you are reading it in the browser). Thanks again. Happy sharing!!! :-)
  • Interesting
  • I can understand new hardware will be needed to utilize the new Qualcomm CPU for dual screen support and miracasting the full desktop display to a tv/monitor. However, I believe a bigger benefit will be the ability to connect a standard VGA monitor to the phone (USB-C?) and use continuum this way, in either dual or single display mode. I say this mainly because, in your office or workplace how many smart screens do companies have that can receive a miracast display? In our place its zero and will always be zero, so unfortunately I wont be able to use this great feature that I've wanted for a long time. But if I could connect a vga monitor....... Then I (and probably most people) have a huge choice and availability if a screen for continuum!
  • Miracast dongles are very inexpensive -- much less than new monitors. And you could even take one with you...
  • I am glad to read a clarification on what really puzzled me when Continuum was first demoed and announced-- it seemed as though the "new hardware" would push the price of a new device into flagship territory, totally subverting the goal of getting one in so many people's hands.  I really hope that is not going to be the case, and that MS will deliver hardware options that support the same OS capabilities across all devices, and the decision to spend more on a flagship will be based more on quality of screen, metal vs. plastic casing, or just wanting a much better camera.
  • See, things like Continuum gets me excited about Windows Phone. But if I've learnt anything from my experience with Microsoft announcements is that the actual delivered product is a cut down stock-holder friendly version that hurts Microsoft in the end. Anyone remember the Kinect Milo? Or when WP7 first launched and DirectX 9 was supposed to let all games run on it? I start dreaming big when I see announcements like that, like here:
    Users who cannot afford both a PC and a smartphone could see continuum enhanced Windows 10 phones as a dual purpose value option. A lightweight PC as well as a smartphone.
    That's not what's going to really happen. One year down the line we'll see a measly lineup with some really crappy hardware and some half-assed half-baked software. The initial excitement will slowly die down to a pathetic lull, and we'll be two years into Continuum with nothing to show for it, and all the features being "meh" at best, and competitors catching up with better, fancier things and Microsoft will again be the company that came up with the idea first but executed it like dropping eggs on the sidewalk, letting all the stray cats lick it up.
  • No, no: MS will produce a truly awesome, perfect phone and then make it exclusive to AT&T which will cripple and gimp it 17 different ways and the salesdrones will tell anyone still interested to buy iphone instead.
  • Sad as it sounds, both of these scenarios seem very likely.
  • More likely both the scenarios mashed together... Sloppy execution with exclusivities crippled with jaggered release months after the hype has died down and the phones not availble everywhere and the touted features/apps/services available in US/UK only...  Meanwhile the said apps/services will see a full-featured release on iOS & Android ...
  • I totally miss Milo. However that was a brainchild of the ex Lionhead owner Peter Molyneux so it never would have happened.
  • That's certainly been the history of the past few years (the Kin phone!?), but things seem very different under Nadella, and maybe even changes that started under Ballmer. I believe things will go more as described in the article than under your dire prediction. I don't believe there's any reason to believe it won't happen -- we've seen most of these technology pieces and it seems both reasonable that MS has them working together given and reasonable that MS would make this a corporate priority. They have to -- if they can't give users a compelling reason to use Windows and Windows Phone, Microsoft will fade away as a company -- without a strong mobile offering, eventually Chromebooks will become attractive competitors to Windows for the app synergy with Android phones, then users will figure they might as well go with Google Docs instead of Office, then MS is a niche player. MS knows this. They CAN'T let that happen. That means they need to make this work. And if you look at pretty much everything they've done starting with Windows Phone 7, then Windows 8 with the tablet focus, it was all toward achieving this goal. Plenty of missteps, yes, but consistently improving and tightening around a unified mobile strategy. They will probably make a few more mistakes, but when MS is committed to something, they have a near perfect track record of getting it right and winning in the end (Windows 1 and 2 were unusable, it wasn't until Windows 3.1.1 that even Windows became really viable on a large scale). And under Nadella, with the much larger and longer-term open alpha and beta test periods, it seems likely that their speed to getting it right is improving and the likelihood of a colossal failure is decreasing.
  • New hardware?... The picture you have in this article is from the demo Joe did in Chicago.... Using a Lumia 920!!!!
  • Still loving this series. Yet another well done article. Thank you.
  • @ladydias Thanks so much for the support!!! I think a lot of people out there have a lot of questions about what MS is doing. I hope you are able to share this series with them. They may not agree with everything we discuss here but I believe it offers some great context and valid points for productive discussion.
  • Jason, I completely agree with your statement about the leaks we've seen so far not being representative of what we'll see for high-end phones. Frankly, the Cityman and Talkman phones, or whatever they're called, really do not impress me at all. They would make great mid-range phones, but I'm hoping to see something that would make me upgrade from my Icon and its already 20MP Pureview camera and 1080p display, and those aren't it. A continuum capable phone would be nice as well, but mainly I'm interested in the camera optics and features like 240 fps video recording.
  • @Zachary Thanks! I'm hoping that Microsoft will blow our socks off. I believe that they realize that they are in a position that they have to blow our socks off with something amazing. They are in such a disadvantage position, whatever they put out will have to SCREAM and BELLOW AMAZING!!!! simply to be heard above the iPhone and Samsung craze and be noticed as a barely audible whisper as 'amazing'. Once noticed however, they can then tell their story. I think their all in, and the consistent Windows 10 media coverage, provides a great platform for Redmond to SCREAM it's Windows Mobile phone story.
  • And yet nobody will care... no matter what microsoft does.  They will still think iFad is superior. 
  • I'll believe it when I see it. :-)
  • I personally don't really believe in Continuum. Because for me for example it's a nice gimmick but nothing I really need. Talking about a flagship of course.  People who can afford a flagship tend to have a PC, Laptop or Tablet already, so there is no need for something like Continuum.    I think to be popular in well developed countries Microsoft needs to have other differentiators. I think Windows 10 mobile is a good one. But there need to be more: I think a really long lasting battery could be a killer feature, something Microsoft is working on since some time now. If they can manage to make the "one-week" Battery they can instantly win. 
  • Very very good point! I agree in developing contries it is a very good option for someone who does not have enough funds for a PC and a Smartphone. BUT ANYONE IN THE US... gimme a break. Let's not forget about the fact that I can order an i3 15" @ https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co... TODAY for 300$, and there is ALWAYS a viable option under $300 for laptops in the US. They simply do not have compelling enough SaaS offerings for this to matter!
  • Yeah they might afford it and already have a PC, laptop and tablet, but Continuum is great for business, schools, and vacation travel. Why lug those devices around when you can just connect your new flagship WP to a monitor or hotel TV. Makes sense to me. Could be game changing...
  • Great article.
  • @Rick_Air Thanks for the support! :-)
  • Imagine a surface companion for the phone a 10" form factor same as the surface 3 but housing only a battery and way to connect the phone either a type c dock of sorts or wireless. But only 3mm thick and super light cause all the computing would be done on the phone. That would be cool and compelling...
  • Agreed! A Surface type display with kickstand and huge battery. Sell it cheap as a companion for the new (Surface) Lumia Continuum phone. Awesomeness!!
  • Way up in the sky little lamb
  • Well written.
  • @Madmik303 Thanks so much! I appreciate that. :-)
  • I don't know if I see the same as you. But I think the future of the surface family device gateways and accessories look bright. It's just that the software is lagging behind in the software side of what the surface potential can be. I'm looking forward to more stylus support and a richer pen experience in the software and an immersive ink to text recognition experience of the OS. I think that's the missing element for making the surface line complete since the birth of the surface.
  • Continuum reminds me of the Motorola ATRIX 4G with dock. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_Atrix_4G That wasn't exactly a hit product. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • It was pretty terrible on the software and OS side.
  • Hey Laura. Thanks for the link. I remember that device. No it certainly was not a hit! :-) And though conceptually similar to Continuum, the implementation and execution are quite different. As Belfiore noted in the video embedded in this article, he alluded to such implementations as the Atrix. The device pretty much made what was on the phone bigger. Apps, which are the other part of this synergistic union in Continuum are designed 100% for the touch environment on the smartphone and 100% for the keyboard and mouse when on screen. Additionally the ability to project two screens, working on excel on a large monitor, while Jr is look at photos on the phone, is another difference between this and the Atrix. Additionally Continuum will be a function of the Windows 10 Mobile platform which will include devices from any OEM making Windows Phone across the world. The Motorola Atrix was a single device from a single OEM and its toughted functionality was not a function of the entire Android platform. Continuum is coupled with universal apps and a universal platform that is part of a massive unprecedented OS update from a company with 1.5 Billion PCs in use on the planet. The talk among users, enterprise, the push by Microsoft to users to upgrade for free, the upgrade notification that has made its way to millions of PCs already, the persistent media coverage of Windows 10 position Microsoft to tell the whole Windows 10 story. Which of course includes Continuum. The Motorola Atrix didn't have this kind of platform or ecosystem. I can't predict the future and say that Continuum will be a hit, but a comparison to the Motorala Atrix's failure is not, in my opinion perceiving Continuum within the much larger context in which it exists. :-)
  • Continuum... I'm astonished ... And very impressed.
  • I believe MS missed the chance to please 920 buyers with an up to date replacement. And it would've given MS another iteration of phones from which to learn. Surface Pro 3 required SP1 and 2 to become as good as it is (using one now). A Surface Pro phone would be a wonderful small production run high end phone that would easily garner acclaim if it were simply done well. MS have given up opportunities to learn how to make top notch phones. A top notch 8.1 phone that could be updated to W10 wouldn't be a problem or a reason to complain. If MS made a HUGE deal about the new flagship and/or Surface Pro phones and they failed to make headway and took a write off on a lot of unsold phones, THAT would be bad. But they can avoid that completely by not advertising too much or making too many.
    They gave up learning opportunities and iterative generations just so they wouldn't fail?!?! That is SO LAME! A 920 replacement, made only in the amount of 920-like sales numbers and a Surface Pro "halo" phone could've been small hits, loved by the few who bought them as well as provide MS with needed experience. Not doing so out of fear of bad press is shameful behavior. I sincerely hope everyone who made that decision is fired or gone.
  • Agreed! A lot of my friends jumped on the 920 bandwagon after I had been pumping Windows Phone for a few years, and then they alowed every single one of them to buy an iPhone6 due to NO FLAGSHIPS! I will say that the writer made a valid point in regards to the inevitable flop a flagship would have been, directly before the big Windows 10 mobile push. Well not directly.... Let's not forge how long it's been since the 930 dropped (overseas) lol. Icon was a joke... Just like every WP on VZW.
  • Fact of the matter is CONSUMERS are buying these devices and they could not care less about full office like experience WHEN THERE IS NO SNAPCHAT... Lol and not just snapchat, but snapchat is the best example right now. Hey, how about a local bank app, how about an airline app, how about the latest mobile games. Heck I'd settle for last years...(PVZ2).... As cool as continuum is. CONSUMERS WONT CARE. If they did care about Office or any of Microsoft's core services then RT wouldn't be http://1drv.ms/1QQBUER (one big pile of $%!)
  • Missing many important points. Many phones and computers are purchased by employers (or schools). If there is a significant cost-saving or fuctional benefit, this will make a difference. Also, Windows only needs to get to a global 10% - 15% of the market to be considered an important platform for developers, which is the main reason most consumers avoid Windows Phone -- lack of apps. Windows RT didn't make sense. Marketing works when there is a clear and compelling differentiating benefit. RT had its plusses (low cost, longer battery life), but also had huge negatives (didn't run all windows programs, and if you weren't technical enough to understand which would work and which wouldn't, you could get into trouble -- best to avoid it). Especially given that there was Surface Pro and lots of low cost Atom touch devices running full Windows. Continuum on the phone is what Windows RT should have been -- put it on a device that no one expects to run full Windows applications (a phone), concurrent with amazing portability (fits in your pocket), on a device you carry around anyway, all concurrent with a radical change to app development tools so that developers can easily build one app that runs on every Windows-based device (including the billion+ PC's), and you have a win. The implementation may struggle at first. We won't know until we actually see it in action. But from a strategic perspective, this is exactly the right way to go. Well done, MS.
  • Excellent article. I've been a fan of Microsoft going all the way back to the 90's. We're in the wee hours before the dawn of a new Microsoft age, and I'm excited!
  • @KMF79 Thanks! We are on the verge of a new MS age. I definitely agree. :-)
  • Come on people!!!! Let’s step back here for a second.  Maybe I am seeing this all wrong, but the fact is you will be able to plug in your phone into a TV or a monitor anywhere and use it like a windows 10 computer just like at work or home!  This sounds fantastic.  The fact that it will run Microsoft programs just like a laptop or tablet with the ease of plugging in a cable to an old TV or monitor.  Yes you need a keyboard and mouse, but they are not real expensive.  Is it me or does this sound like one of the coolest things.  I can imagine my kids using a windows phone for day to day stuff, plugging it in at home into one of my old monitors and doing homework.  Fixing things and updating their homework on the bus and being able to access it at school also.  So cool.  I do not own a windows phone, but have been keeping an eye on them.  They intrigue me.  The way Microsoft has been buying up good apps that i use on iOS and making them run better.  They seem to be going the right way.  Anyways my 2 cents from a non-windows phone user who would definitely consider this for me and my family.
  • Best commercial ever. Little Johny sits on the public bus and starts his homework on his phone.  Not knowing what he's doing, other passengers shake their heads. Jonny gets home.  "Dad, I just need to touch up a few things."  He connects to the TV, finishes his homework, and prints.  "Alright dad, I finished my homework, let's go the ball game..."  
  • @freddyfender Thanks for your perspective. I appreciate you sharing that. I presume your piqued interest is just the type of response MS would hope to engender in may consumers. Something I neglected to add in this article, which I believe I noted in preparation, is the fact that MS not too long ago manufactured a new portable keyboard. I believe that the keyboard, though cross platform, was designed with Windows Mobile Continuum feature also in mind. MS I believe is really building it's ecosystem out in very strategic and broad ways. I believe in 10, maybe 5 years we will look back and clearly see how some of these moves will lead to a Microsoft that I envision will be increasingly successful in mobile. Some of the things we're discussing in these series articles I hope will be part of that future discussion. :-)
  • Forward-looking tech aside, will MS implement proper parental control on Windows 10 for phones? It has been piss-poor in the current iteration. All other OS are way ahead in this area. So when they talk of new users, parents to would-be early (young) users would look at the Windows Phone shelves and say, "Nothing for us here. Move on."
  • Lumia brand needs to go away. Naming the high end phone "Surface" would create more sells just because of the name. Its a popularity contest.
  • Sounds great and all that, but where the hell are these "noteworthy" new categories of Windows Phones already? We're ready Microsoft!!!!!
  • After buying a smart TV and finding it primitive the vision of having a very smart phone that is a mouse or keyword projecting what I choose to show or do onto a HD monitor is the smartest most flexible forward thinking concept and if anyone can't see how flexible this makes your entertainment and media they have no vision. I am with Microsoft and exciting times are happening right now.
  • Knowing Microsoft I bet the new flagship will not support Continuum because they forgot to include some stuff in the phone and so it won't work. But they will assure the next flagship will be the best. Just wait. :L
  • once Windows10 has come out across all devices and we have the common shell, they should just change the name of the OS to Continuum since it spans all devices and is always being updated I think it would be a much better name going forward. Microsoft Continuum the Cloud OS! :)
  • "Disconnecting the keyboard to use it as a tablet prompts the touch-friendly Modern UI." No, it doesn't. The Modern UI has all but been removed from Windwos 10. Ironically, it only exists as Live Tiles in the Start Menu on the Desktop. Beyond that, the touch experience in Windows 10 is little, if any better than it is in Windows 7. Furthermore, Continuum will not be a feature of Windows 10 when it launches next month. Instead, tablet users wil have to manually change to and from Tablet Mode, which currently provides no useful changes to the UI to facilitate using it with fat fingers. In fact, leaving yoru tablet out of Tablet Mode actually provides a superior user experience with touch, which should tell you everything you need to know about how bad the W10 touch experience is. Before Continuum can offer an experience that is even in the same ball park as W8, a lot of work needs to be done. They need to build a touch-friendly UI with touch targets that are sufficiently well spaced and of a usable size. They need to reinstate the gesture support we have in W8 (which in no way affects desktop use and never needed to be removed). As an example of how bad it is, look at the new Edge browser. It is no easier to use with touch than the desktop version of IE 11. That's OK, except that it hasn't replaced the desktop version, it has replaced the Modern UI version that offers a brilliant touch experience in W8. So W10 no longer has a browser that you can use on a tablet. Given that that is the no. 1 thing I use my tablet for, I think it is a pretty big cock-up on Microsoft's part and it is why I will almost certainly revert my tablet to Windows 8 after I have tested the RC build of W10 and why I will not be upgrading any of my other PCs for the foreseeable future.
  • The other issue I have with the concept of Continuum is that it appears to take a this-or-that approach, where I like to mix-n-match. For example, I really love the modern Ui version of IE11, it is the only browser I use on my laptop. I particularly like its Reading Mode, which converts vertical scrolling web pages into horizontal scrolling pages that make far better use of available screen space on my landscape oriented PC monitor or laptop screen. It also seems to assume that if I am sitting in front of my laptop that will only want to use it like a desktop machine but mine has a touchscreen and sometimes the easiest way to get to something else when I am running After Effects or 3DS Max full screen is to swipe in from the left or right. Windows 8 gets this and allows me to use whichever way of doing things suits me. Continuum seems like it is going to force me to work one way or the other with little or no overlap, which seems to me like a much poorer user experience than Windows 8 has been providing for 3 or 4 years now. One day Continuum might be amazing but it won't even be in Windwos 10 when it hits the market and, unless they can really pull something out of the hat, it is going to be years before it can approach the fantastic experience Windows 8 already gives us. I'd love to be proven wrong but from everyting I have experienced with the W10 Insider programme, I can't see it happening.
  • I have to agree with you here. As someone that enjoys Win8, I think Win10 is taking a lot of backwards steps to appease those unwilling to take a few minutes to learn something new. Win10 is basically just a partially reskinned Win7 with a half-assed attempt at a decent touch UI.
  • Continuum is basically just a first step to our smartphones becoming our primary computer. Once the hardware and battery life get there, Microsoft will be leading the way with the smart"pc".
  • Will win-32 work on the phone when it's connected? I don't think so. That would be amazing
  • I personally feel  that all these 'major' steps by Microsoft (Continuum, Hololens, W10, Surface), as impressive as they are (especially considering the microscopic role Microsoft has been playing in the mobile industry in the last few years and the company's reputation), are actually all small steps which are leading up to a massive change in the way we use our devices. I get the feeling that the strategic thinkers at Microsoft are actually planning not 1, not 2, but 10 or more years ahead. Who cares about a flagship device for the spec addicts when you are developing a strategy and a product backline that changes the way we use that low, mid or high-end device? Something bigger is going on here. Check out any recent (or old) Sci-Fi movie and you will see that the way we interact with PC's, smartphones and tablets today can and will be considerd pretty dumb and prehistoric, 10 years from now. Devices are currently anything but personal, intelligent and mobile. I think HoloLens is the best preview into a really smart device future. Need a bigger screen? Project it onto a wall and have it follow you around. Need typing? Project a keyboard on your table. Need a mouse? Stick a smart sensor/tag to any old object and move it around. Once we get the hardware smaller, cheaper and better, you won't need a smartphone AND a tablet AND a PC AND a game console. This is the future: ONE device. Remember, any purchase is largely based on emotion, we want to "feel" something for our device (or anything else). Right now we have to share our "love" between several devices. What if you had a smartphone, tablet, PC, TV, console in ONE device? How strong will your connection be to that device?  And even more into the future, a challenging thought: YOU are the device. Or maybe i'm over-enthousiastic and nuts. In that case, please Microsoft, bring out a flagship ASAP, I need it. :)    
  • Belfiore has funny hair
  • My jaw was on the floor when they demoed Continuum for phones (albeit it was just a pre-render). The idea and execution are unbelievable. This could honestly change the way the world works.
  • I have to disagree with this article. What is the point of this when you still need to carry around a monitor, keyboard and mouse with you? This is a feature which will be used a few times for the novelty factor and then wont be used again. This is definitely not going to be game changer for Microsoft. The only advantage I can see is the cost. But nowadays a good tablet and a laptop are very affordable and the prices are dropping even further, so I seriously doubt that there will be a major cost advantage of this.
  • Maybe there will be BlueTooth keyboards and mice in every hotel room. Or, maybe separate foldable keyboards will improve -- you can get a keyboard down to a lot smaller than an iPad without sacrificing too much usability. Easy to make very portably for travel and no security hold-ups like with an iPad, but I would agree that it'd still be hard to imagine keeping one your pocket for day-to-day use.
  • Imagine continuum for phones... But in a car! Obviously not running 'desktop mode' but 'dashboard' mode. There's a developed world usage scenario right there.
  • @l33tuc I can see that. i like it. i have some images in mind.But, tell us what you're thinking if you don't mind.:-)
  • Great write up
  • @Real_Dariq007 Thanks man!:-)
  • All we need now is the Surface Phone.
  • Microsoft is right that Continuum will be huge in countries in which people can afford a phone but not necessarily a PC and a phone. But there's another huge market segment that they need to push as well:  My 10-year-old daughter.  She wants it all -- a phone, a tablet, and a PC.  I'm not going to buy all of them for her.  That's just not happening.  But if for $600 I could buy her a nice phone that does double-duty as a PC she can use for school as well, that's a no-brainer.  The middle-school demographic in the US is a huge opportunity for Continuum.
  • "Apps," you ask? By providing developers with the tools to convert their iOS, Android, and Win32 apps into Universal Windows apps, Microsoft has done virtually all that it can to answer the app gap problem. Time will tell if developers respond." While I love the enthusiasm of the series of articles, I have to disagree. I think it quite simply boils down to two things, units sold/users and apps. The app developers won't start making apps for Microsoft until WP/WM starts selling more units and the devices won't start selling more units until the apps that people want are readily available on the platform. It's a vicious circle. I’ve been on the WP bandwagon since I got my Trophy (followed by the 8X for a short while, 822, 928 and currently the Icon) and I’ve bought devices for various friends and family members (Focus S, 520, 8X, 1520 and 635s) and while they have all enjoyed the phone, around half of them have left for competing operating systems because of the apps. If Google were to make some of their services available to WP/WM, that alone would increase sales. I can't tell you how many WP reviews have given the Lumias, etc. high marks in everything except for the app ecosystem. Honestly, if I have a favorite app on Android but I'm thinking of leaving them, if the app is only available on iOs,  but not WP, the decision isn't going to be that hard to make. And while I agree that high-end phones alone aren’t what’s going to increase Microsoft's marketshare, it does get people excited and talking about the phones which gets them talking about the OS which gets them talking about the eco-system. Ask anybody, what’s the one feature they remember most about any WP8 device and more often than not, they’re going to talk about the 41 mp camera on the 1020. Was it a huge seller? No. But it got people into the stores and I’m sure quite a few of them walked out with 520s because of it. That’s the other reason why they need to put out a Flagship yearly, because of the popularity of the 520 and other low-end devices, everyone associates Microsoft’s phones with low quality. It’s not true but that’s the perception. If you compare the two-year old Icon to iphone 6/Plus, it still has features that the Flagship iphone doesn’t have, better screen resolution, processor, more ram and wireless charging, etc. So while I hope Continuum is the feature that gets Microsoft over the hump, Continuum + Flagship + Apps together have a much better chance of getting us to the promised land. .  
  • Great article Jason, I love reading these. Really looking forward to awesome new hardwre in the fall.
  • It's a very good article - very interesting technology for sure - but man your writing style is spectacular! I registered here just to say that. 
  • @Accroya I apologise for the late response. I just saw this comment and I really appreciate it. Thank you very much!:-)
  • Well written, all five parts. Thanks.
    However, I'm not that enthusiastic. Every time a new gen (or half gen) was coming to market we heard some bombastic visions from MS that never materialised. Hardware was never a problem, Nokia was one of the best. Software was always culprit.
    Users complained about app gap, not existent or crippled apps, but whenever I talked with devs about issues they mostly blamed poor APIs and other system restrictions. And while some of the things have gotten better, they never quite reached the state of other platforms.
    Then there is ever constant lack of finish with most of what MS does. They come up with an app or service and it's too basic or utter crap. And it takes ages for them to refine it. And before it reaches a usable level, it is often thrown away / reworked and the new thing is even worse. How do they expect a success ? How long are users willing to wait ?
    WP7 and WP8 have been in works for very long time yet what they have delivered was poor. And think of all the users who got burned, endlessly waiting until they threw towels in and went for other platforms.
    MS has a lot of money but it's just full of promises and never really delivers. And MS is running out of time as money they earn mostly come from tech that is becoming less and less relevant. No one could beat them in their game, but unfortunately for MS the game has changed, more than once, and MS is constantly behind.
    And, last but not least, the world won't stop and other players can try the same. Mobile phones are still not powerful enough to run full featured apps and while they get there Apple, Google, BlackBerry will certainly come up with new features and solutions. Because how hard really can it be? In simplistic form app can change behaviour when it detects external monitor, keyboard, mouse. And those have been available on Android and BlackBerry for ages. But I'm sure platform makers will come up with better solutions when the time is ripe. Especially Apple has shown us that it usually patiently waits until all the pieces are available and then it comes up with good integrated solutions.
    Anyway, interesting times ahead of us. Universal pocket devices are definitely the future.