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Highs and Lows Part VI - Noteworthy: Windows phones, the phones that can replace your tablet and become your PC

I'm a sci-fi fan. I gather that many techies are. I have hundreds of books (not counting hundreds of comic books) in my home. Yes, I'm a nerd; the cool variety mind you.

In my daring travels to alternate realities, divergent timelines, and other sci-fi crafted realms that I've visited by way of the boundless imaginations of authors I've read, I've seen the implementation of an intriguing piece of personal technology. You may have seen it as well, in some form or another. I'm of course referring to an all-in-one personal computing device that performs the various functions normally relegated to multiple devices.

In a sci-fi trilogy by Robert Sawyer, a technologically advanced culture of Neanderthals from an alternate reality have such a device grafted into their forearms. In the funny way that science fiction becomes science fact, this device is artificially intelligent, gets to know the bearer, monitors their health, and provides information proactively as well as upon request and more. Now we may be some years away from a cybernetic implant but Microsoft, more than any other tech company, is closest to offering the world the future of a truly all-in-one personal computing device.

Tortoise and the Hare

"Therefore, we have to be on the hunt for what's the next bend in the curve. That's what, quite frankly, anyone has to do to be relevant in the future. In our case, we are doing that."–Satya Nadella

It's no secret that Microsoft has struggled in the mobile space. Though the company was actually early to the tablet PC and smartphone markets, an apparent lack of motivation led to so-so products and a lack of continued innovation. The lesson of the company's failure to capitalize on a position of strength, their early entry into the space, has been hashed and rehashed many times over. The lesson I'd rather draw on here is this - Microsoft was early. Redmond beat both Google and Apple to mobile. They were even the first of the three to offer a digital assistant. Remember Microsoft Bob?

So it is clear that Redmond has no problem with getting ahead of the curve. They've done it. More than once. Their challenge has been in applying the brakes through the curve, effectively parking once they made the bend and then waving their competitors on as they sped by after they too made the curve. Ironically, Redmond would then ensue chasing its rivals once they realized what happened. Ehhh, maybe that last part is a bit harsh but you get my point.

Many people have envisioned Microsoft as the industries slow-moving tortoise. I see them, however, as the overconfident hare that slept their lead away. But as is the desired result of Aesop's Fables, there was a lesson learned.

Microsoft is different now. Really.

Getting things done

"Therefore, we have to be on the hunt for what's the next bend in the curve...In our case, we are doing that. We're doing that with our innovation in Windows. We're doing that with features like Continuum. Even the phone, I just don't want to build another phone, a copycat phone operating system, even."–Nadella

"We're doing..." Microsoft is actively moving on what it believes to be the future in computing. Nadella makes three distinct claims in his statement regarding where the company is "on the hunt for what's the next bend in the curve."

  • Windows – Microsoft's unique universal platform.
  • Continuum – the ideology of a unique synergistic relationship between software and hardware that creates a malleable OS and hardware combination that conforms to a user's needs.
  • Phone – the smart personal hub from which we manage our digital lives. Through a mixture of forward-thinking innovation, Microsoft's phone solution will be a unique presence in the industry.

We see, with the innovation of a universal Windows platform and the form factor fitting nature of Continuum, what Redmond is doing on the OS and ecosystem level to be ahead of the curve. Neither Apple (who is publically philosophically opposed to a unified OS) nor Google have achieved this.

It is interesting that Nadella, within that same context of these bold unprecedented innovations, shares that Redmond is positioning itself ahead of the curve with the phone as well. We know that Continuum is positioned as Redmond's key differentiator for phone. We also know that Nadella, based on statements from a recent interview, has a lot of confidence in that technology.

We also now have, thanks to Editor-and-Chief Daniel Rubino and his sources, additional pieces of this puzzle. Definitive hardware specs for the first two premium Windows phones. Though I doubt the Cityman and Talkman represent what Redmond has planned as the epitome of a Windows 10 flagship phone – they are tantalizing.

More on that in a bit.

Committed to the duo user

"So when I think about our Windows Phone, I want it to stand for something like Continuum. When I say, wow, that's an interesting approach where you can have a phone and that same phone, because of our universal platform with Continuum, and can, in fact, be a desktop. That is not something any other phone operating system or device can do. And that's what I want our devices and device innovation to stand for."-Nadella

Microsoft has shown a bullish level of commitment to uncharted territories. This attitude resulted in the "third times a charm" success of the Surface Pro 3. Undoubtedly Microsoft's leadership had a vision of a future where a user's cloud-based experiences would be served by a duo purpose device, whose hardware and software would conform to a user's needs. Persistence paid off. The success of the Surface has silenced its critics. Props to Panos Panay and team.

The Surface represents the initial embodiment of how Microsoft is approaching the industry and what I have dubbed Microsoft's "Ideology of Continuum". A device that in one instance can be a keyboard-connected "laptop" and the next become a touch-friendly tablet represents, in my estimation, Microsoft's core philosophy toward modern computing.

I believe this philosophy, of a multi-purpose device, will be as adamantly applied to the phone as it was to the Surface.

But why such a commitment to a path that seems to be a deviation from what Redmond's more successful rivals are doing in mobile? Simple. Microsoft is committed to the duo user. Whether that person is an executive, a student, secretary, small business owner, busy housewife and mother, or a regular Joe, Microsoft is getting ahead of the curve.

"That's where I come back to this notion of empowerment. When I even think about the three broad ecosystems out there in the world, we are the only ones who both (consumer and business)… IT can be a student writing a term paper or a big enterprise driving their own differentiation of productivity. Both of them are the things that we as an ecosystem care about."-Nadella

…Mightier than the sword

Two months ago Microsoft bought N-trig the Israeli-based company responsible for the digitizer pen used with the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft, then, alluded to an implementation of the pen in a way we had not yet seen. As I hinted at the close of Part 5, Microsoft has indeed brought the pen to phones.

"In Windows 10, the pen is now a first-class input method, at the same level as your mouse, keyboard, and touch."

This particular input method, despite the late Steve Job's assertions, is quite natural and is often the ideal means of recording information.

It's no coincidence that the pen has taken a front seat in Microsoft's ecosystem at this point in the company's story. Redmond's goal to create one device that fits all scenarios necessitates that all primary forms of input are intricately interwoven into the devices that will showcase Microsoft's ecosystem. The rise of OneNote as the go-to cloud-based note-taking tool and the introduction of Microsoft Edge's webpage annotation capabilities are major portals into the pen-based use case scenarios for Microsoft devices. If Web Notes makes it to the phone, yeah, that'll be pretty slick.

More than the sum of its parts

Microsoft is no longer braking for the curve. They're pressing forward with an uncharacteristic lack of reservation in numerous areas.

  • Windows 10
  • Cortana
  • Universal apps
  • Cloud
  • Windows Hello
  • Continuum
  • Surface/N-Trig
  • Edge Browser
  • Gaming

Microsoft is positioned ahead of the curve in each of these areas. This bodes well for flagship Windows phones particularly since virtually all of these unique strengths can be implemented on flagship Windows phones/phablets to offer a unique combination of features.

The leveraging of these assets to make computing more personal, which is Microsoft's mission, bolsters the unique value of a Windows phone. By virtue of what it is, the "phone" is the most personal device we carry. Now remember an interesting technological feature alone can be gimmicky and uninspiring, but when coupled with the right mix of software and other innovative technology a device goes from also-ran to amazing.

Cortana, which has been getting to know users since April 2014, proactively provides personalized news, movies, dining information and much more based on a user's interests. Her debut on PC, iPhone and Android will increase the systems data pool from 10s of millions to over a billion in time. This will, of course, increase her ability to provide personalized support across Windows devices.

Now consider that an artificially intelligent assistant that knows you will be residing on a phone (and other Windows 10 devices) that will recognize you. Yes, iPhone and Android have digital assistants and biometrics (fingerprint readers) but neither is implemented in as natural and personal a way as simply looking into one's eyes as Microsoft's Windows Hello technology does.

We're just getting started

Combined with the strengths of Continuum, the universal Windows 10 platform, and a diversity of input methods that fit various use case scenarios, these features make a Windows 10 smartphone something to be excited about. Now I'm not expecting Sawyer's cybernetic implant, but as the Surface is the embodiment of a flagship tablet, I anticipate that Windows 10 phones will be the embodiment of that all-in-one device that sits beyond the bend in the curve as the phone that can replace your tablet and become your PC.

Windows phablets, by virtue of their 5"-7" size, which will share the same OS as small tablets will naturally replace some tablet use scenarios for users. Additionally, connecting this same device to a larger screen, keyboard and mouse will effectively turn this "phone" into a PC. Amazing.

Moreover, an Intel-based flagship phone that surpasses that premium designation and fully showcases Windows 10 and the Microsoft ecosystem is on the horizon. A step above the Cityman and Talkman is where we are headed - imminently. The phone/phablet that can replace your tablet and become your PC is what I believe Nadella is prepping the world to identify as a Windows phone.

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella (Image credit: Windows Central)

Yes, Microsoft has seen the future, and as in the past, they are early. The difference is this time they're moving forward full throttle. And as awesome as they are, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella assures us that Cityman and Talkman are just the "colorful" beginning.

"You've got to remember even the Apple regeneration started with colorful iMacs. So let us first get the colorful iMacs. I think with what we're doing with Lumia, we're at that stage. I want to do good devices that people like, and then we will go on to doing the next thing and the next thing."–Nadella 7/14/15

Let's see what 'surfaces.'

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!

156 Comments
  • Don't forget to check out the Sway if you've read this in the app!
  • Great article again.
    Just need a better/new processor in there.
  • We need "Apps" that's all!
    Btw again great article Jason. :)
  • Exactly! I still miss alot of banking apps :(
  • In how many banks do you hold an account :P
  • I have accounts with two banks (PNC and Chase) and neither have Windows Phone apps.
  • Ditto for BankOfAmerica and Banamex. BoA used to have an app for Windows Phone...disappeard in 2014.
  • swap banks lol.
  • I was in the exact same situation w/ those two banks!  I moved to Ally bank since they have an app, great interest rates, and zero ATM fees.  Downside is if you actually use the B&M buildings...which I haven't needed in YEARS...they do not have any.
  • The camera for WIndows Cityman and Talkman mixed with Project Astoria can make existing banking Android apps to run on WIndows phone, but now banks have the choice to add face biometric authentication to existing Android /iOS apps so Windows 10 Mobile is a really good choice if you want to have saving on costs, since now Android apps team for each of these banks can also code for Windows 10. This project Astoria is a huge accomplishment by Microsoft's engineers.
  • @winfan1995 Thanks! Hopefully Microsoft's efforts to make transferring apps from iOS and Android to Windows Universal apps will be just what the doctor ordered! Time will tell.
  • Great article!
  • Yeah i like these types of articles
  • Yep, market share doesn't matter to me NEARLY as much as app support. That is the ONE BIG hole in MS right now, and they really need to get it patched up... But....I think that all this Win 10/awesomeness will see the market share go up, which in turn will see the app scene turn around, which in turn will drive the market share up, and it'll just keep spinning.... ....that's the hope anyway, but I think it's a well grounded hope now. :-) Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • Very good article. Reading every bit of it.
  • @Nazir Thanks so much.
  • 10 has been out a week. Again I ask: Where are the apps?
  • Are you serious?
  • The OP had a point to the extent that, there weren't any significant app launch partners for the Windows 10 store. In comparison, for the Apple Watch, 63 new apps were ready to download at launch: http://www.techradar.com/us/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/...  
  • I don't think we'll see any big name apps until Windows 10 Mobile is official. PC users don't care about apps. A smartwatch needs apps just like a smartphone. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • But that invalidates the whole argument behind Windows 10 and universal apps, no? The premise was that due to the high user base of desktop Windows users, developers would rush in a stampede to create mobile apps that function across devices. (Looks at the horizon, blinking.) I don't see any stampede.
  • I know its really tough as a consumer to understand. We see magic happen all the time. Developers can't rely on magic, they are the smoke an mirrors behind it all. So given that, i'm going to point out that the SDK (the collection of tools and programming 'magic wands') was released the same day as the OS, on the 29th. http://www.windowscentral.com/windows-10-sdk-tools-are-available-app-developers-download Microsoft's pushing of 10 out before it was really complete on the surface means that they didn't give the rest of the OS team time to complete things like the SDK prior to release. Granted it is an uphill battle to convice developers and businesses to code in a new ecosystem when a normal (nearly) universal webapp, or win32 program works just fine and arguably has more functionality available. I don't think anyone there at MSFT promised a cornucopia, but as a critic, its important to live in reality not a built up emotional reaction.
  • A reasoned argument. My counter---- But that's Microsoft's fault:  why didn't they have the SDK ready to go for developers? Yeah, they rushed the OS out early, but nobody forced them to. They could have waited until everything was ready to go.  It would have meant missing out on Back to School sales, but them's the breaks, they should've started development even earlier.
  • It’s arguably a new paradigm in platform development as has been reported. I'm not taking either side of the 'this is the last version of windows' debate, but i think when we hold that up we can better understand the strategy behind the story. Gradual improvement, refinement and evolution over time. Therefore no need to get all the pieces out right away as it was in the past. I can see the pro and con to both sides. Having spent years at Microsoft and watching all the moving pieces of a large organization and the sub-groups, I can understand it from a different perspective. There is a bit of chicken vs egg thing here. In the past the OS group spent the last 4+ months refining the front end of the os while the backend and such was nearly complete. What we see with w10 is a barely passible frontend and a just completed backend. Having followed the public builds for the past few months and reading the tea leaves of the feature sets that were rolling out, I got a chuckle out of what those sprints must have looked like for the developers. I also imagine that there was some serious feature creep going on as the 29th came into focus. You can't have an SDK untl you have a feature complete platform. Ok, there are some caveats here, but the first thing we have to ask, is why wasn't the SDK released earlier? Because the dependencies wasn't complete on the backend (the OS) and features weren't known or announced. Straight from code complete into the next released build. I'm surprised 10 is as stable as it is.. but then it was built on a very stable w8 for the most part... I digress.. anyhow, I’m keeping my mind open and allowing for the continuous development model to unfold before I start being the critic. Certainly the old way has quite limiting brackets around it that doesn't really foster innovation, but more of a "what can we complete in XX months? Ok, now what should we cut?"
  • Developers will come but unlike dropping a deuce in the morning making a good app takes time...
  • If PC users don't care about apps then we can't really expect any apps for Windows Mobile either now can we? The main reason people thought apps would be developed for Windows Mobile was because there would be 1 billion PC users with Windows 10. If these users are not interested in apps, then developers wont bother making them for Windows Mobile which has much less users.
  • Agreed. I quote The Verge's Nilay Patel: "Apps have become nearly irrelevant on desktops because the web experience is close to perfect, while apps are vitally important on phones because the web experience is dismal. Windows 10 looks like it's going to be a big step forward for Microsoft, but it won't be able to bridge that [app*] gap. I'm not sure anything can." *=my addition  
  • Agreed, PC users do care about apps. Especially, the tablet and touchscreen users. I have Windows 10 installed on an older desktop and surprisingly, many game apps that run on mobile phones have a difficult time running on my desktop. Yes, I know this is on another rabit trail. My point is, when people use Windows 10, they expect the same apps from tablet and smartphones to be available.
  • They do? Do you have any data to show that people expect the same apps on Windows that they use on their phone? It seems to be quite the opposite since Windows App useage hasn't exactly been popular. The browser is what people use on PCs. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Nope. I do not have data to support my statement. However, in an effort to appease your need for facts, considering most comments on this site are based on opinion. Microsoft stated that Windows 10 would bring about a combined store and the same apps that you find on PC, tablet or phone should be there. From my experience, I have run accross one app that had both the PC version and the mobile version in the store, which was the USA Today app. There are some apps that are on the phone, but not in the store when I search from my Surface. I do understand that MS probably has not done all the backend work needed to make this happen, or it could be the developers. I don't know. The one thing I do know, not every app is there and "YES," if MS said that would be the case, it stands to reason that people will look for them. As I mentioned, tablet and touch screen users, and I'm thinking more tablet users will look for these apps, becasue they are likely to be mobile and will not want to take the time to always pull something up in the browser, when they can just tap the app tile to access it. Here is a site that has some statistical data, if you are interested. It does not fully support my point, but it points in that direction. http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics...  
  • you hit the nail on the head there, desktop users dont want apps they want software lol and even tohugh they are both the same thing, 16gig games or full hardcore software like adobie or others are not really the same thing as cut the rope or photoshop elements lol..  I do think itll help a little but no it wont be a huge thing yet.  The 1 billion on devices is more a lure..  Truth is microsoft need to make all their phones as flagships have everything, more storage, more memory, more features built in wireless charging, wireless phone paying(apple pay).  No skimping on sd slots or screen quality, and great battery life.  thats the reall progress there.  I have all the apps apart from 3 that im ever gona need, 26ish i use 30 something daily, so im happy.  Many others will be too.  I dont feel its a app race any more cause well theres apps i have that android and iphone dont have.   Better marketing too plse microsoft give retail a reason to sell your phones like a big bonus for staff. Even give sales staff free flagship windows 10 phopnes, cause if youd have given them a lumia 930 on shop floor theys try to sell it to people i guarantee it.
  • Your post as been here for 30 minutes. Again I ask: Where is your common sense?
  • yea only the pc version??? the Project Astoria which will help translate apps will be available when Wp10 comes out whicn will be in 1 or 2 months :3 and again then if the devs dont want to use it to bring their apps to Wp10 with little work then you wont get apps.
  • You'll never make Cpl, with an attitude like that, LCpl. The motto is "Hurry up, and wait..." Semper Fi.
  • Saved (offline reading) the best for the last..
  • @azer_m Thanks hope you enjoy it!
  • Nicely written article! :)
  • Thanks for the article. Enjoyed reading it..
  • Continuum is still a half hearted affair. The hardware and software standards just don't exist to support seamless session and authentication handover across devices.
    Plus Microsoft's services are second class.
    See OneDrive. See Photos. Not good enough.
  • Considering there is no available Continuum hardware yet, your comment is half hearted.
  • Haven't you seem the demo? Sorry but this is little better than projection to a larger screen. Fact.
  • Sure, Symbian has done that before... but now you get actual useful desktop apps running in a real desktop way.  That's enough for me for a start, when the phone then also includes proper USB support, file management, and other desktop goodies then that will be great.
  • the continuam demo i saw i was told was a simulation so i agree i still havent seen it working yet.  Will be nice if it is all that though.  Unified email plse microsoft.
  • Not really.. Continuum is a sure thing...atleast according to Nadella...
  • If msft services are second class then google ones are "soviet like" in quality & privacy policies..photos is an app not a service..continuum on the rumored x86 surface phones would be half hearted?lol please go back playin candy crush on your giant iphone aka ipad.
  • You misunderstand. I'm all in on Microsoft. But OneDrive performance is awful, and the lack of placeholders or file explorer/file dialog integration with OneDrive is a massive backstep. This is why Thurrott has switched to dropbox. Photos is an app and a service. But the lack of folder support, tagging, location views, face recognition etc which should sit in the cloud layer put this in third world vis-a-vis Google's photos. Again, there is a reason Thurrott is using Google.
    Groove is finally stable, but the lack of likes, curated playlists, social integration and family subscriptions put it way behind.
    Given Satya's cloud background this is all inexcusable. We should all demand better. Otherwise you are no better than iSheep.
    And yes, Continuum is little better than screen projection. If you watch Microsoft's own vision videos you'll see how seamless transition across devices should really work.
  • @wpkevin you have to remember that the Atrix was a single device from a single manufacture. Continuum is an ecosystem wide feature that encompasses all compatible Windows " phones" currently on the way "CityMan" /TalkMan and all phones that OEM partners will manufacture. It is also tied to the Universal app platform which allows apps to conform to the device so means of interaction, to the point that keyboard shortcuts can be used when the phone is connected to keyboard, mouse and larger display. The app is not just "blown" up as it was on the Artrix. Additionally Continuum allows for the projection of two screens, larger screen if connected while still doing other tasks on the phone screen- again something the Atric could not do. So there are very distinct fundamental differences between the single device feature from one OEM, Motorola, and what they did with the Atrix, and the OS level ecosystem wide function (not just a device feature) of Continuum that will be part of all compatible Windows phone from any OEM partner moving toward. Thanks for the input to the conversation! Discussion is great.:-)
  • Well said Jason!
    I'd like to add one thing, once Motorola started releasing Android 4.0 ICS (which the Atrix never got btw), webtop on the RAZR & BIONIC became the tablet version of Android ... (Meh)
    _______
    ASUS also toyed with the idea but again basically tablet version of Android & really expensive accessories
  • @wpkevin Thanks for the reply. I would probably use the language , Motoroala was the "dominant" Android OEM. As an OEM they simply used the "Google-ed" version of Android on thier devices. The only power over that version of Android of course was pretty much skinning it. That is not a fair comparison to the fundamental control MS has over Windows and thier absolute control in directing what it offers as differentiated Operating System that transcends form factor and actually conforms to use case scenarios. Microsofts option is an actual ecosystem wide application of a concept that works on tablets as well as phone and who knows what category of device that may come next. It is an intentional positioning by Microsoft preparing the basis for what they believe to be the transient nature of mobile computing where one device fits multiple scenarios. They're looking beyond the "now" and current limits are laying the foundation for what seems to be the direction of the industry. Motorola simply didn't have that type of depth, scope or authority or control. I've been seeing a structure for hosing being built recently. The workers started with a lot of digging then paving, then laying the foundation. As an observer I knew they were building something, but not until the framework began taking form upon the foundation did it become clearer. But it took a while to get the foundation done. I think things will become clearer as Microsoft and partners continue to build on the foundation they are currently laying.
  • @wpkevin Thanks for contributing to the conversation. :-) The best any of us can do is offer analysis based on market trends, industry positioning of major players, current strategies, intentional forces within companies to direct the market etc. In the absence of omniscience, this is the best we can do. :-) So I accept your opinion and your particular view based on your understanding of the information we currently have available. We don't have to agree. Discussion offers insights that may not have been considered for both sides. :-) I do however stand on my understanding of what the data presents and where I believe its leading, conceding this fact - that nothing is certain and even the best laid plans can fail, and unforeseen events can change the course of a strategy. I would add this however as further contemplation - 4 years ago in 2011 when the Atrix launched we were about 4 years into the iPhone initiated new age of smartphones. The market was still primarily dominated by sub <5 inch devices. Late 2011 much acclaim and fuss was made about the HUGE 4.7"inch display of the HTC Titan and the even more TITANIC dimensions of the 5.3" inch Samsung Galaxy Note. Looking back, those dimensions, particularly the Titan, (which I own), and the Samsung Galaxy Note are both dwarfed by my 6" Lumia 1520. In the years that followed, the Samsung led charge provoked a norm of an industry littered space of 5" plus phablets (phones + tablets - an important point to consider) by an assortment of OEMs. These larger devices are not just larger devices existing in the "same" type of consumer space that was the reality from 2007-2011. Consumers between those years were primarily seeing their devices as "phones" with added capabilities - smartphones. Jobs in his 2007 introduction of the iPhone put it like this - the device is a Phone - Music Player - and Internet Device. The now diminutive sub <5 dimensions of phones during that age when the phone "for the masses" was just becoming smart, fit well within that paradigm when users still saw greater use case scenarios for larger computing devices - PC's and tablets upon which they (we) depended for many things. With the advent and widespread acceptance of phablets (5"-7") device functions, and with the greater sophistication and power of these devices, use of PC's and tablets for many computing functions has shifted COMFORTABLY (very important point) to the smartphone - web surfing, gaming, music, watching movies, banking, email, chatting, video and picture editing etc, etc etc the list goes on. Many things that were formally desktop or tablet focused are now done on our smartphones. Now that shift was ADDED to the things inherently baked into a mobile platform creating a merger of formally PC/Tablet use case scenarios and mobile scenarios on what most of us now own - phablets - devices between (5"-7" inches) The industry has flowed organically into a place, a particular paradigm where people are very comfortable using their smartphones/phablets as a composite device. And it happened naturally. A flow in the industry that we can easily observe simply by looking back. The pent up demand for the larger iPhones which saw record sales is additional testimony to this reality. There are no signs - looking forward - in my view that there are any red flags saying that there is a "stopping point" to this progression of a natural flow toward our smartphone becoming INCREASINGLY our primary device. Devices are getting larger, more powerful and more capable -as they continue to bear the load our tablets and PCs use to bear. The 4" Motorola Atrix released in early 2011 did not exist in a consumer space that had evolved to the point of "near single device" dependency that our current devices exist in now in 2015. Where PC's and tablet sales are on the decline and hybrids are on the rise (an acknowledgment of a consumer space that is ready for "dual use" devices)and smartphones that are heavily relied upon for more advanced computing needs. This is the space into which Microsoft is introducing it's Universal OS and App platform which allows for an app to be written for desktop AND phone. Which by virtue of the Universal quality makes it an app designed for both a larger screen device and smartphone. Thus when the "phone" is connected to a larger screen it is more than a "phone" app blown up to a larger screen(like the Atrix apps). It is a app universally designed for multiple scenarios. So what Continuum does is something that no other platform has done. At a time in tech history where a poketable computing device is becoming increasing the single hub from which we manage our digital lives, - It allows for the utilization of a universal app platform (which was never done), -It conforms to mouse, keyboard, monitor scenarios physically or wirelessly in a way that has never been don before -It is a foundational quality of an entire OS platform that can be used by OEM partners(which was never done before) -and again, it is at a time in history where we have progressed organically toward a mobile single device computing reality. Microsoft is preparing a device and ecosystem to be that all-in-one solution the world seems to be headed head long for. I think the timing is right. I could be wrong but the market in which the idea of "turning a device into another" - where it previously was tested and failed was a pre-phablet more PC/Tablet centric world. -The OEM that facilitated the attempt did not control the software platform essential to support the hardware functions - The was meaningful software modifications that made the "bigger" projection of the phone app any different than it's phone iteration. It was simply projected. It was not coded to work AS a desktop app. (Windows Universal apps are coded to work for each type of device) The Atrix is like Microsoft's pre nueral network, internet back attempts at a digital assistant. The timing wasn't right then. The pieces weren't in place. They were early but Bob couldn't cut it. In 2014 when Cortana launched her neural net basis and the wide spread internet availability make service much more viable. Timing was important. I have confidence in Continuum. I think it can work. The failures of the Atrix I think are not very relevant in this age for the reasons I stated above. The biggest challenge that I feel to the whole idea is Universal App support from 3rd party developers beyond any core apps that Microsoft has and will produce. Thanks again for you input. :-)
  • The thing is, Motorola... In typical Motorola fashion fumbled it, failed to capitalize on it & got too greedy with accessories & adaptor prices.
  • There is no "across devices" it's just connecting to a screen in extend mode instead of mirror. All it requires is a screen with miracast, and that standard totally exists. The real problem with continuum is that you don't have a screen available everywhere you could have used a laptop. So it doesn't remove the need to carry a laptop most places, and if you have your laptop why not just connect that to the screen instead? If they start selling a $100 continuum screen that supports pen and touch that you can carry around like a tablet (but it's just a screen for use with continuum, not a tablet), then it might be more useful.
  • Excellent article Jason. :)
    Microsoft, in my opinion, have made a wonderful choice in appointing Satya Nadella as the CEO. A lot of people are unhappy that Microsoft has been giving away software to other platforms, but I'm optimistic about it. Hololens, Surface, Lumia, Windows, Universal apps, Windows Hello, Continuum etc are all products and services that can drive Microsoft forward and ahead of the competition. I think this is a great time to be a Microsoft fan.
  • @malbendsouza Thanks. Much appreciated! Definitely a great time to be a Microsoft fan. That are doing great things.im not sure that the industry at large fully realizes how Microsoft is really profoundly positioning themselves for the future.
  • Just remember to bring those colors. Black and white are just soooooo boring...
  • As long as they keep a black variant they can make one in all the colours of the rainbow... I just want all my tech in black. The blacker the better. No gloss no colours, thanks.
  • I like the balck color...just like Batman B-)
  • Every shade of green ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I like my white. A bitch to keep clean, but man does it look beautiful when it is!
  • I would like an alluminum metal case on next Microsoft's flagships. It will add much more value to the device to enter the premium flagship market in which Samsung and Apple compete today.
  • I want a steel like case with no rusting and with nice rubber on the corners for padding. I don't care about weight. My 920 is a great weight. I want the phones to start feeling solid again.
  • I'm thinking they will be replaceable back covers so different colours can be bought and changed when you feel like it.
  • The cloud has made a unified OS pointless. It seemed like a good idea years ago when your data wasn't easily available anywhere, but now you can access your files and information easily from any device or platform. It is just more of Microsoft thinking in the past, not the future. Same with Continuum. Android has been able to do this for years. Motorola even make a laptop shell for it, but it is pointless. PCs are not expensive and again your data is readily available anywhere because of the cloud. Continuum actually adds complications. You cannot use your phone and PC at the same time, it is either one or the other. These things are not the future, they are tech dreams from 10 years ago that are no longer relevant. Microsoft is still stuck in the past.
  • Well...u can sit under the rock...as long as you want... Others are moving on...
  • As far as I have seen in the demos... You can use your phone when it's in continuum mode. They were touting that your kids could watch a show while you used your phone at the same time. With regards to the rest of your statement... A unified OS makes sense from a point of view of windows 10 being on over 18 million devices already, encouraging app makers to make universal apps.
  • How many hundreds of millions were on Windows 8 for years now? How many apps came from that? Apps are not coming. Period. No one uses them on Windows. If they did, the years of Windows 8 on hundreds of millions of devices would have driven at least some app growth. As it is, the apps on Windows are almost non-existant and the ones that are there are terrible. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • "These things are not the future, they are tech dreams from 10 years ago that are no longer relevant. Microsoft is still stuck in the past."
    PERFECT.
  • You don't get it. The idea is to replace the PC with the phone. The phone becomes everything. At least that is how I interpret it.
  • That is my ultimate vision and it will happen because of Windows. Our phones will one day be our only computers and they will wirelessly connect to peripherals based on use case. At a desktop, I dock my phone and it powers my large monitor, full size keyboard, and mouse. While mobile it perhaps powers a dumb screen that can either be a laptop or a tablet. And perhaps I have multiple sizes of dumb screens in my bag. And then of course it's a phone when I need it to be. That's my vision and I'm sure Microsoft is thinking along these lines as well.
  • But why bother with that when PCs are super cheap and your data is seem less through the cloud? It just complicates things. Maybe if PCs were prohibitively expensive it might make sense. They are not. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Except that Android is a pile of trash that more resembles Windows Me than Windows 10. "Hey, let's have some halfass Java crap instead of a real API, then fill it with really bad security holes and set up our partner network so that nobody will ever receive an update. Yeah, that's QUALITY." Android can go F off into the dustbin of history like Magic Cap and QNX.
  • Android has been able to this for years..nope android just mirror phone screen, and lumias are already able to do this. Being able to access to your data IS the purpose of the cloud (and msft with azure and its 19 DCs - more than Google & Aws combined - is first globally). The purpose of a unified Os is to offer the same ui with same services and apps on multiple devices to make your jobs done wherever you are and whatever you need. You totally missed the point of msft view of future computing, maybe because you are stuck in the past with years of marketing brainwashing you with revolutionary features with zero innovation.
  • Your data is already seamlessly available on any device you want. Microsoft is working on a problem that was already solved years ago. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • "You cannot use your phone and PC at the same time, it is either one or the other." Depends, you most definitely will if you use Miracast/wi-di. And maybe we'll see USB C cable-"docks" besides the regular desktop docks, then you'll at least be able to take calls where you stand.
  • More complicated is the exact opposite of where the market is going. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • To the contrary, MSFT is leading the charge in the way which we will be using computers in the future.They are a big company, and big companies can be slow to change. Look at Kodak, Nokia and even Apple ( when was the last time they innovated something on their own?). Innovation is risky business, you don't alway capitalize on your own ideas. Take for instance the tablet, MSFT was well ahead of Apple and anybody else, but it was Apple who got the credit after releasing the ipad. And by the way, MSFT responded to the ipad's success by saying that it was a fad - because it is not a creation device (paraphrased). Fast forward to today, and guess what? MSFT was correct, tablet sales are on the decline, however Surface and 2 in 1 devices are on the increase. Give MSFT some credit!
  • The Surface is a laptop that can kinda be used as a tablet, except the apps suck and the UI is complicated and frustrating after using an iPad or Android. It is an awesome laptop though. Tablets are not being replaced by these devices, they are being replaced by large phones. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Isn't a bend and a curve the same thing ?
  • Tell a girl she has bends and you'll get a slap.
  • If you tell a girl "You've got the curves!", she'll probably be flattered. But if you tell a girl "You've got the bends!" she'll probably think she needs to spend some time in a decompression chamber.
  • I'm stuck looking at those nice phones lol.. Can't wait!
  • TALK IS CHEAP, Seeing is believing!!!!
  • Sorry guys, but I'm not buying this idea. At least not on phones... People buy phones because they want to Snapchat with each other... They want to instantly take a picture and post on Instagram, with the lastest filter added... They want to share to Facebook their highest score of the game that everyone is playing in that week... THEY WANT APPS. And THOSE apps are not coming to the Desktop side, they are not interessed and that part, because people they have Desktop already are used to use THOSE and on THEIR PHONES, iPhones and Androids. These wont change. The "Universal" Windows Apps things are only for Windows developers fans. Even MS are not using it fully. Not even the "native" apps shares the same features between the two sides of Windows. How they expect to Instagram suddenly change their mind and make a UWP? I am on Windows Phone since 2011 feb, since when we didnt have even Copy and Paste, or Twitter, or Angry Birds... I'm loving these Metro thing since my first Zune, in 2009 (I had two). I also heard all of the theories that tried to explain the "Phones with Windows success always in the futre, always still to coming" and so far we always went to the same conclusion: "maybe in the next version"...
    I still love the Live Tiles and I still anxiously waiting for Cortana to speak brazilian portuguese... But I dont know if I want to stay waiting for so long. I can have almost all the things I love in Windows for phones in the others plataforms and even have all the apps and updates I am waiting for...
  • What do you mean Microsoft doesn't use universal apps fully? Edge, Office Mobile, Mail and Calendar,Groove Music, Calculator, Weather, News, Sports are all fully universal apps. Cortana and notification center share most if not all of the code with the mobile versions.  And don't expect apps that quickly, software developement is not just slapping together a couple curly brackets and semicolons. It takes time, especially for big companies that have popular services. And even if we're talking about porting iOS or Android app, developers still need to see how Win 10 plays out.  So chill.
  • A year from now, we'll be having the same discussion I think.
  • Universal when done right means the desktop app and the mobile app are the same thing, and have a UI that is responsive to the user's envronment. MS is using it in Windows 10.  Office is a collection of universal apps.  Edge is universal.  What more do you want?
  • The Mobile side of the apps dont share the same features that the Desktop one. This is not fully universal.
  • Yes, they do.  They may not all be exposed due to UI constraints but the capabilities are certainly there. At least on Office, Edge and any other truly universal app.
  • "People buy phones because they want to Snapchat with each other..." Nadella already told us: we don't have competitors! We, regardless of OEMs coming or not, are moving forward with our unique strategy. "I dont know if I want to stay waiting for so long..." You're probably getting upset with our fav platform. Not everyone's case here. Just saying. ; )
  • Enterprise will love this idea. The first wave of these devices are not for the normal Snapchatters. They come next.
  • The difference with universal apps under Windows 10 is that you could effectively create a full "desktop" application that could also run on a phone, a tablet, etc. Same code that runs on all devices other than having a UI that adjusts to screen size and such. This has never before been possible. As a simple example, the calculator app on my Lumia Icon running Windows 10 Mobile is exactly the same app running on my Windows 10 desktop. Exactly the same. Now expand this to a bunch of other applications, for a wide range of uses, and what you get is an incredibly flexible and capable ecosystem unmatched in capability and possibility. Think big. Think Windows 10.
  • Really nice article, now that Cityman will have N-Trig pen it will compete with Galaxy Note 5 with the difference that Note 5 does not have Continuum, does not have Edge Browser and does not support Biometric authentication like Windows Hello on Cityman. For the first time in history, Microsoft's phablet for note taking will be more attractive than Samsung's. You can say anything about the hardware, but Microsoft's prooved it beat Samsung on tablets (Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 vs Surface Pro 3, Microsoft won). You can say anything about the software, but Microsoft's project Astoria, will make the Android app ecosystem available on Cityman, the only difference will be that Google apps/search/services will now use Microsoft's (Microsoft's apps/search/services are better than Google's).
  • Imagine clash of clans playing on a Windows device.
  • Incredible!
  • Imagine playing actually good games, with physical controls, and no whored out paid content system!
      Mind blowing.
  • The future is apps. And how msft can convince the massive W10 users to follow through with accessing W10/msft features on their phone. But oops! They can access it on their android/iphone!
  • Exactly!! Seams like almost everyone is forgeting this...
  • Project Astoria. APK will run as it is on Windows 10, this is going to make Android obsolete. Its going to be epic. Wait for 2016!
  • LOL more 'Wait for (fill in the blank)!'
  • Features like continuum maybe? I mean dear God, how dare Microsoft give us options. It's not Microsoft's problem that it makes it services readily available for other platforms. It's Google's and Apple's. What MS does is consumer friendly. What they do isn't. 
  • You say that, but comapred to Microsoft and Windows, Apple and Google sell 4 times as many devices. That is including all PCs and phones and tablets. You really think they do that while not being consumer friendly?! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • windows is the best os on phones, only thing we need are apps
  • The true Indian man-Satya Nadella
  • Imagine a device that only runs Store apps. Sounds a lot like Windows RT!!
  • Exactly. And that is Continnum that everyone insists in be the Windows mobile savior...
  • Yeah, I'm not buying all of this either.  It's still too much jawboning, not enough 'show me'. Even Microsoft isn't going all in on universal Windows apps for their own platform, and putting it last, and other developers are supposed to eagerly jump on board? I'm sceptical.
  • Edge is universal.  QED.
  • Edge. Word. Powerpoint. Excel. Groove. Outlook. Calendar. Photos. Calculator. Cortana. XBox. Maps. MSN Apps. People.   You're right. They obviously aren't committed to making Universal Apps.
  • Wow, a universal calculator, well consider me impressed. Also the office suite on windows 10 phones needs to be significantly better than the POS offerings in WP8.1 for me to care at all about them.
  • Through the Insider program both Windows 10 Mobile and all of the apps listed above are available for you to try. I'm using them on my Lumia Icon and everything is working well. Or you could just complain because you haven't bothered to make an effort.
  • Once again, great article. I was going to hold out for the true phone that can run x86 programs in continum(Surface Phone), but Cityman will have to do for now. ​
  • Wait until next summer. Q2 2016 to be precise. You'll have your surface phone. That's what I'm holding out for if Verizon doesn't get a flagship this fall.
  • Apps don't just bring Success! It's part of the package. I don't fancy Win10 just being a app launcher
  • Call me jaded but I'll believe it when I see it.  If the new phones don't have everything locked with Continuum or whatever, I call shennanigans! MS has promised and not delivered too much lately.  I might not switch to iOS or Android but I won't jump onto anything new.  I'm tired of being burned.  L830 & Icon should be at the forefront of EVERYONE's mind when they think about jumping on anything new from MS.  Flagships, affordable or otherwise, have really burned folks who have tried to support MS.  I got caught up in the ATT L830 fiasco and what a pain that has been.  Wonky BT and wifi!  I hate to see how Continuum is going to work. If you buy a carrier subsidized phone and it doesn't have Continuum, then I'm betting you will never get it.
  • …Mightier than the sword,  All I think about is the SNL Jeopardy skit. bwahahahhahahahaha
  • Great article, as always, Jason! I am excited, and the odds of my next phone being a Cityman (or its replacement) are very high. Will history record the gambit paying off, or falling apart? Who knows. I know the MS rhetoricians are saying the former, while the Google/Apple rhetoricians say the latter.... ...I certainly am optimistically hopeful for the former myself... ...I suppose only time will tell! :-) Fascinating times in tech!!! Keep up the great work! Cheers! p.s. I'm a big nerd too. But while I do have maybe 100 comic books and a small collection of sci-fi and fantasy novels (I also have Marvel Universe series 1-4 comic cards, DC series 1, and X-Men - all complete...minus the holograms), my particular geekdom historically drifts less towards comics and sci-fi and more towards retro video gaming, and being able to wax technical about old video game hardware, particularly old video game sound hardware. Though I've let it go dormant a bit, hit me up on Nerd Noise Radio (twitter, blogspot, Facebook, Google plus) if you're interested in any of that jazz. Lately my geekness has lighted more on two new areas: learning as many languages as I can (basically conversant in German and Spanish, just beginning to grasp Japanese), and being as fully immersed as I can in Apple, Android, Ubuntu (though I may or may not continue on with that one)...and, of course, Microsoft!!!! So from one geek to another, I salute you! :-D Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • @jayseedoubleyou Lol! A geek is a geek is a geek. Regardless of variety! :-) Thanks again man for the continued support! Much appreciated. Maybe I 'll check you out on Nerd Noise Radio :-) Hey that's awesome about the multiple languages! I wish! Stay cool, or geeky, or well... whatever...:-)
  • If Microsoft actually believes that Continuum is the next big thing, I am afraid they are going to be very disappointed. What is the practical use of a phone that can adapt it's UI to a bigger screen? You still need to carry around a keyboard, Mouse and a screen with you at all times to get any work done. Just get a laptop and you can do much better work then you will ever do with a phone with Continuum. Continuum has to do something better than what we have at present to be actually adopted by many people. I have yet to see anyone come up with a use case where Continuum is actually better than a stand alone laptop or tablet. Continuum is just a gimmick that will be forgotten in a few years.  
  • Pericle, I totally agree.  I was hoping that something like Continuum would "integrate" with your existing system and be the communications hub for that system.  When you sit down at your computer and want to use Outlook, it would utilize your phone to have your contacts and other things and that it would be an integrated environment.  Then when you leave your computer, you take your communication system with you.  Having it be a PC is beneficial when one is on travel and there would be some kind of "reachback" capability to pull up docs & presentations or even media from home. Wow!  Imagine if your device could connect to a home server, had access to all of your photos/music/video/recorded TV and you had your own personal cloud.  Wait!  MS tried that with a great product called Windows Home Server and Windows Media Center and those bombed because NO ONE IN MS marketed them and then thought that people in their home wanted an Enterprise server solution and only wanted to play DVDs for their entertainment!  With MS thinking like that, I'm guessing that one C-level person at MS will say "Windows Phone" and that will be the extent of their marketing effort.  Remember when Balmer brought out a Ceton InfiniTV device?  That was the last thing you ever heard about Windows Media Center.  I would not be surprised if the same thing happened with Windows Phone and Continuum.  Ugh!
  • For many users a powerful enough phone with continuum will replace their desktop.
  • A desktop work environment to dock the phone to at home. A laptop clamshell with a screen, keyboard, and a wireless receiver to interact with the phone directly when on the road.,  
  • "Just get a laptop and you can do much better work then you will ever do with a phone with Continuum." I don't carry my laptop around everywhere I go.  The phone on the other hand is stuck on my at all times.  The ability to dock it at my desk at work, work on things a little more while waiting on an oil change and then continue working at home by docking at my home office would be nice don't you think?  I'm not sure how the experience would be so only time will tell...
  • My vision is this. My phone is my only computer. It's a phone when I need it to be, but it also wirelessly connects to full size peripherals when I need/want. When I'm at work, it's my desktop, docked for power and running a full sized monitor, keyboard, and mouse. When I'm mobile, perhaps I have a dumb screen and keyboard, the size of my choosing, with the processing power in my phone, which again wirelessly connects. Same for tablets, I pull out a variety of screen sizes from my bag depending on what I want to do, which are dumb screens that wirelessly connect to my phone. Obviously the hardware isn't yet ready for all this, but it will be here soon enough.
  • It's happening again and MSFT is letting its competitors get an upper hand. Car makers are now offering Apple Carplay, Android Auto and MirrorLink...A MSFT offering is curious absent...other than a cell phone, nothing is more mobile than an automobile...Microsoft had SYNC but they seem to have abandoned pushing it in autos...another fail...
  • I agree (while both Google and Apple are reportedly also working on autonomous cars---they both know Cars=just another 'mobile' device).
  • personally and i know this wont change but i love driving and i will always drive my car, i dont want a robot doing it for me.
  • I'm loving it. In an era of opinionated blogging, Windows Central continues to produce informative, objective and professional journalistic articles. As for MSFT, they are a great company that focuses on Innovation. In my opinion, they have always been ahead of the curve. Just look at their many failed and halted project ideas over the years that were utilized by other companies. For example, Zune and it features, or the Courier tablet, and there are many more. Even Windows RT and Windows 8 were great innovations, and although they failed commercially they were the catalysts and building blocks behind W10. With W10, MSFT has ushered in a new era in computer technology.
  • Its a great point of view. I think that Nadella could be the new "Jobs" and I hope that Microsoft really make the new "iMac", but fast!
  • Nadella doesn't seem like a cut-throat businessman
  • The new Jobs? I hope not. It took Steve Jobs 27 years to get Apple to be relevant, and that was with a fleeting product called the iPod. That was then morphed into the iPod Touch, which morphed into the iPhone and then the iPad. And today about 60% of Apple's revenue comes from the iPhone. Take the iPhone away, and all of its ancillary sales, including Mac sales and iPad sales driven by people that buy iPhones, and you still have nothing more than a niche computer maker struggling to be relevant.
  • What about a laptop or tablet like device as accessories for phones with continuum? Just display, touch screen and battery ;)
  • One of their demonstrations used that concept, so we know they are at least thinking about it.
  • I love this "badass" take no prisoners version of Satya Nadella.
     
  • Awesome article. I'm very excited about what Microsoft has around the corner. 
  • Hi. Clearly the author of the article is a severe MS afficionado. But that is all I can say about this article. It is true that MS launched the first Tablet PC but is not true they were ahead. They allluded to it but once they start tackling the curve they simply parked. That is what happpend on and on in the MS dominated era. There were hints of innovation but no depth. Now the Continuum for phones as it is alluded in the video its a bit of a joke. Honestely, think deep about what is being told. So you are out and about on a trip with your phone. So miraculasly you find a docking station and dock your phone, Also miraculasly you have a HDMO cable and a TV set to connect to, better still you go and tingle with your hotel TV sets with Miracats, oh there a re plenty I can tell you (sarcasm) and connect your phone. So now you sit in the couch and play a bit. That is clearly being ahead of the curve. (sarcasm)  Now if you could by a an extremly thin wireless display, thiner then the thinnest of normal tablets and connect to unterthered, turning the phone into a tablet or a surface like tool, that would be a different thing. That would be being ahead of the curve. The idea is nice but it lacks meanigful depth as it solves nothing at the moment. Until then stating that they are ahead of the curve is a dilussional exercise.  
  • @Nuno Thanks for your input:-) To your point that Microsoft was not ahead in the tablet space because they failed to pursue innovation in the space is not a valid argument against them not being ahead. It IS a valid point, as I point out in the piece, that they have historically entered a space before others, which by definition make them ahead, but they failed to iterate after entering the space.
    Now we are certainly in the early days of Continuum, which I must stress is more than an implementation of a feature on a phone/or tablet, but as I share is more of an ideology of how MS is approaching modern computing. By creating a malleable OS and hardware solution that serves the duo user, which is their focus, they are laying a multi-faceted foundation where modern mobile computing is apparently headed(one device for multiple purposes). Of course this is an ambitious goal and requires the universal app platform, universal OS, peripherals (such as the docking station MS is releasing) etc.
    I believe that necessary components and partnerships are being forged to establish the header ecosystem that will help this to succeed.
    But the mere fact that they have dedicated major resources and effort to establish the universal platform, are designing aspirational devices that will take advantage of the function(and hopefully encourage OEM partners), developed core Universal Apps that showcase for developers the advantages of Continuum and more certainly put Microsoft ahead of competitors in this area. Apple has publicly denounced the idea of a unified OS(they also kicked against larger phones however) and though OSX has iOS flavoring two are still quite distinct. Chrome and Android are still miles apart. So on the platform level, a fundamental component to Continuum Microsoft is well ahead of its rivals.
    Now IF they were to back of and stop pursing Continuum, that would not mean they are not or were not ahead. It would simply mean they failed to move forward. But as I share at the end of this piece, Microsoft in my estimation unlike thier early failures in the tablet and mobile phone space are moving forward full throttle!:-)
  • @Jason Ward, thank you for your reply. I think we both share the passion for the future of tech with the same intesity. That is what made me comment your article. 1) Like you I’m realy excited with the common runtime and API stack that MS is developing across Windows devices (mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and consoles). I agree with you that within this, they are ahead of the curve in terms of coverage, Wether the materialization of this in each device translate to being ahead of the curve on each instance don’t think so. It has the potential to, but it is not clear cut. 2) I’m a Surface Pro 3 and a Windows Phone owner. It has been my goto devices for over a year or so. Hopefully it will remain to be in the years to come as long as MS keeps on coming up with meaningfull solutions for my everyday chanllenges, allowing me to do more with less effort while enabling new use cases, now with a more solid platform approach, Windows 10. Wether 1) translates to this is another matter. For the time being Windows 10 empowers Surface Pro 3 in many ways positive. For traditional deskttops and laptops, I’m not so sure, but I can testify that is better then Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in this environments, still I agree is debatable as long as people have problems with devices drivers and so on has reported. 3) I like the fact that MS seams to be focused on producing what I call Cult devices, following the lead of the success of SP3,  as the best instances of their vision for personal computing with Windows. Nadella does not hide the fact that he has learned this from Apple. Attention to detail in those devices both in terms of hardware but also how it Works with the software. Furthermore, not only at the highend but in 3 different areas. Excelllent! I believe this is key has a MS device user, but also to solve the innovation and design marasm we have been witnessing with Windows powered devices. 4) Continuum concept interpreted as empowering the dual-user, the multi-purpose device. Here I may say that MS is not coming up to my expectations in terms of communication, neither with solutions in the mobile phone instance of 2) To be honest, seeing the video of Joe Belfiori is quite a painful experience for me. It gives a bad vibe for the MS future in the consumer space. Let me explain how painfull it is byt sharing a video with you made by an interested user. Not a CEO, not a VP of anything, nothing like that. A common man, a person … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDIoFOF8BWg Please don’t be put of by this video. I’m not doing it plug competitors to the conversation. Don’t want to start a device war or anything like that. Please be focused on this discussion and pay attention not to the devices, not to the brands but to the experiences being described. As I said, I’m a SP3 and a WP user, and being totally honest the video that I share with resonates more to me. Actually I find Joe Belfiori arguments quite head winded to the point that if I go down to specifics and imagine as I can only do for the moment, totally useless in my context. I see Continuum, at least that is how interpreted it from Nadella speechs, as a concept that does not only concern each kind of devices towords multi-purpose, but also and fundamentally across devices. The way Joe presents Continuum as coming to phones is clearly within the mentality of a single device, a multi-purpose device. In my experience the desire for multi-purpose is a mirage. If you ask someone if he wants a multi-purpose device that does X and Y efficiently they will say Yes. Yes. Yes. But when you present that to that person, usually the response is no, I don’t want this. So either the question was wrong leading to the wrong answer hence the wrong implementation or the implementation lives up badly to the question. I’m more inclined to think that the question was wrong. In fact, the implementation is fully correct considering the question, what the person is seeing is and using is multi-purpose device, but then it discovers that is not what he or she wants or needs. This happened several times over and over with MS. The conclusion has been always that the market is not yet prepared for something more powerful. I think it’s the wrong conclusion. Let me explain why. Take the iPhone. Is it a multi-purpose device? This is serve the dual user? You may say no. I agree J and that is extremely positive conclusion. But the fact remains that the iPhone came to replace personal media players, personal entertainment devices. business phones, and if we take in the iPad it came to replace UMPCs. Further more, at home it came to replace the PC as the go to computing device for most tasks.  So now you tell me that it does not achieve the ultimate objective of a multi-purpose device dream. It is better then the dream! You see, it did not stop here. It managed to bring Continuum experience to Audio and Video through Airplay. Sorry to hijack the term, but that is what Continuum really means to humans, that is what mobility of experiences really means. Select an audio output and bang you are listening to the music that you were listening in your PC our Phone through your HIFI system. The same goes to video. This are just examples of what is happening today. People don’t want multi-purpose devices. Why, because multi-purpose means that at some point there is a switch in the experience on the devices, it implies multiple distinct experiences, users don’t like this. Dual user inspires dual personalities, users don’t like this., furthermore the conclusion is usually a not so good experience. Widows 8.1, SP1 and SP2 failed because of it!! That is why Mobile Phone Continuum as presented by Joe will fail!!! Simply because that is not Continuum, it looks like it is, but it is not. It’s a mirage that when you get there you will find no Oasis. Sorry if you take all this into consideration then no, unfortunately MS is not ahead of the curve apart from Surface Pro 3. Why is SP3 ahead of the curve? Why do I think it is the PC of the present and the future. Simply because through using, especially with Windows 10 I’ve learned that this is not a multi-puporse PC, meaning Tablet PC, this the Surface Pro 3 a new class of personal computing. Yes, it has some way to go but at the moment I don’t think it is down to UI or the device, but to other things that I’ve mentioned lacking in the Continuum vision. Personally I don’t see that Joe Belfiori in its presentation is actually aligned with the concept of mobility of experiences. For instance I have a smartphone, because of it can I make a call or receive a call on my PC? (you see this is mobility of experience to). No, Joe points its guns to connecting the phone to a keyboard, to a mouse and to a TV set … does he know I already have an SP3? Having said this the vision that I can use the Smartphone for more then what I can do with it now, I fully concur with Joe. Get a super thin wireless display, thinner then the thinnest of the tablets, with touch and pen abilities and he might have a case with me. As it stands …  no. Just my 2c. Cheers, Nuno PS: By the time you have the Joe Belfiori Continuum Phone, plus the cost of a case with a screen-keyboard to hold the phone (or even if it is wireless), you will arrive to a cost $$$ that is greater or close to buying an SP3 and a 640XL. Furthermore, you will find that is not a PC after all, as if we don’t know that already. Furthermore, it will be as portable.
  •   I would dare even to say that if Joe had gone for Continuum across Windows 10 PC's and Windows Phones as little as voice calling, sms and internet sharing, probably it would have done much more for the sale of Windows Phone then this Continuum Feature on Windows Phones. Continuum is not a featture, Nadella does not seam to decribve it as such. Everytimes I heard Joe came out with the impression that it does does not get it! This feature alone would at least lead to the consumer owning Windows PC's and most certain SP3 users, which are billions, to consider a Windows Phone next time. Now a phone replacing a PC? Noe one believes it for quite good reason. They will, say, yeah, sure, give me an iPhone 6S or Galaxy S6 Plus please. Furthermore I will risk to say that Phil Spencer will probbaly do more for Windows Phones sales then Joe's Continuum. You see, once XBOX One streams games to Windows Phones, that I'm confidant it will come has a bomb in Novemvber along with the launmch of the new Windows Phones. A lot of young pleople and not so young will clearly have a look at it with intretest. Phill Spencer is on to something, he gets Continuum in games. Imagine one can simply Pin an XBOX One game on the Windows Phone dashbord, One clicked it established the connection to XBOX One at home and bang, playing an XBOX One game on the phone at Starbucks trhough WIFI ... Hopefully he will get Conitnuum also in Audio and Video, meaning that the XBOX One to be used as an audio or videos output of a Windows 10 PC. Furthermore, hopefully we will see a Windows Store in XBOX One with the same kind of opneness as in Windows 10 PC and Smartphones.
  • Transformative, multi-use devices is what Microsoft is going for. Surface (PC/Tablet)
    Xbox One (Gaming Machine/"Cablebox"/PC[soon])
    Lumia (Phone/PC)
    Band (Fitness band/Smartwatch)
    Surface Hub (PC/Collaborative Device)
    Hololens (PC/AR device) What Microsoft is doing is making everything a PC...and that's why Windows 10 and UWP is so critical for them. All of these items will be running Windows Store apps. The future is that everything should run everywhere (albeit to the design of the device) and the device (if able) shouldn't have any issues running those apps. It's a bold move, and the right one. If you want a true ecosystem, you want it to run anywhere, and microsoft has the most diverse catalog of devices that can fufill that need for every type of user. It all depends on what happens in the future, but they are the most prepared out of everyone else.
     
  • Yet again another great article Jason, many thanks.
  • Great article although I do find him saying, " I just don't want to build a phone, a copy cat phone operating system, even". Rather hypocritical as Windows Phone 10 is peppered with hamburgers and is increasingly becoming android-esque.
  • Gah! Enough with the hamburgers already. Yes, Microsoft did copy some ideas to make the experience more consistent for people who have been conditioned to Android until now. Does that make it a copy cat operating system? I think not. A copy cat operating system would be Samsung's Tizen copying from Android, or the first android copied from iOS.
  • I think Windows 10 is on a good start, but it still has a long way to go to get more mature to get "doing". The OS needs to get more stable, bugs need ironing out and features need more enhancement in line with future progress that I already expected in this build. Interactive live tiles were a logical next step in the evolution of windows 8. And I don't exactly agree that the is full pen support​. After more than 10 years of the evolution of the inking API in windows, I expected advancements in ink support in "all text fields for s full pen support experience in the OS. This is not the case (yet). Also there should be advancements if inline ink to text recognition in apps and text boxes. Microsoft showed a glimpse of this on channel 9 back in march. Compared to windows 8 I have seen no relevant practice change in this department. So the article on the pen is not entirely accurate, but close.
  • MS is in a dangerous position: it stakes its future on these so called 'revolutionary' products which might prove to be puff. What if the continuum doesn't take? Why should it take? If you want a hybrid between portability and power it already exists: the Surface. Cloud? Not very impressed, Dropbox is better, and even Yandex Disk works simpler and better. What will they say if in 2 years all these products prove to be failures?
  • @Sergiu Thanks for your input. Anything can fail. The greater tragedy is to do nothing. Here's hoping that in two years these products prove to be successes!:-)
  • It can fail so why to cut a tree You seat on? Killing OneDrive integration for example. It was the best cloud for tablet owners with smart files. And now how they want compete with chromebooks without cloud support?
  • Oh well this is all well and good on hardware side and support. But, I want to draw attention to Microsoft's software services portfolio. I think Microsoft has to start treading the shores of consumption side of software services as well. They are finally capitalizing on XBox Gaming which is brilliant. XBox streaming is a brilliant move which still needs to sort out some kinks like simultaneously streaming games to PC while projecting TV and providing TV oriented tasks. But they are still missing out on Films, TV shows, Music and social aspect of these services as well as location services. First of all they need to bring these services to more market complete with local content. Then they could introduce skype powered networking to these services like able to sing along choruses and karaoke together(on same network but in different locations and on different devices) with Groove app, gossips and exclamations while watching films or TV shows together(on same network but in different locations and on different devices) on Movies&TV app- with either family on the same network or friends on different networks through internet. Microsoft could introduce their own OneDrive powered content creation and/or publishing platforms for consumers. Like, twitter like service for either checkins or status updates within 166 words. YouTube like video streaming service complete with video editing and special effect edits(ala Premier Pro and After Effects) for already created content as well as for live video casts and/or sending videos to your followings list which delete themselves after a while or video stories from across the globe. Flicker/Instagram/Snapchat mash up like service giving users options to upload full resolution photos and drawings with full capability for drawing and editing(ala Illustrator and Photoshop) while service also using Lumia photography compression algorithms for greater viewing experience in slow internet as well as skype qyk powered photos and photo stories to your followers and photostories from across the globe. Sound cloud like audio/music streaming service complete with recording/editing/special effects capabilities to publish your work and/or send voice notes/songs/audio/music to your followers which delete itself after a day as well as voices/voicenotes/music from across the globe. (tbc)
  • WordPress like service complete with written content creation and editing capabilities as well as designing magazines, newspapers and pamphlets, newsletters(ala InDesign) to publish to your viewers. As well as sending letters, notes, stories to your followers which will delete itself after a while and stories/stuff from across the globe. Finally, one note for education needs to come to consumers too without requiring dedicated network infrastructure and installation across the campuses. Powered by OneNote and OneDrive, it could work as a subscription service where students, friends, tutors could give tasks, collaborate on homeworks/tasks/assignments and checking/correction on tutors behalf.
    I just remembered one consumption service that I missed was that of Digital Books/Comics/Magazines. A service like Barnes and Noble with variety rich epubs fiction/educational/other genres alike from across the globe, availability in more markets and annotation, sharing and collaborative features(ala OneNote for Education and Microsoft Edge's webnotes- which needs to come to mobile version as well). Students could share their textbooks together, solve questions together and such. Book readers could share the excerpts to their friends and family through the sharing services I mentioned above. Microsoft has become a onetrick pony with enterprise productivity and it needs to do more on consumer side of things. That's the only way it could attract back the market that it lost.
  • No developer interest = no ecosystem = no platform. There is still next to no interest in Windows 10 for Mobile. No hype machine, nothing. Unified apps is not going to save WP10. It's just not enough. Articles like this are a dime a dozen, full of excuses for SOME kind of optimism for WP. It's like a scratched record, watching writers trying to draw blood out of stone. Microsoft's mobile strategy once again IS going to fail. It's just getting painful to watch. Time to pull the plug, honestly. I'm not a hater of WP - I love it. All the more why I'm angry.
  • Microsoft has always been what some are now saying today , things take some time , and all the more , has brought all the more , a huge Oak tree took a very long time to grow , so remember good things comes to those who wait.
  • Point is that Microsoft is changing it's approach totaly in a revolutionary way (again) and in the opposite direction than the rest of the market. With WP7 they made the most cloud connected device on the market, that was way ahead of iOS and Android those times. Now they are cutting out OneDrive integration from W10 (without smartfiles it's no better than dropbox), making WP10 less and less connected (no FB integration, no hubs with online sources on equal rights as local ones) and they are creating dual function device (phone and pc) that stores all files localy. Apple is going more and more into the cloud, Google as well and MS "innovative" approach is "hey, lets have a local PC in Your pocket". That's crazy! I like the idea of Continuum but there is no real life adventage. Your phone can be a PC?. No. It cannot without monitor, mouse and keyboard. Even if You have those with you somehow, any laptop will be much faster and easier to use.
  • good point. another terrible thing about windows phone 10, no facebook folder for pictures and no whats app folder, no onedrive seperate folders either lol.  Bring back phone 8.1 intergration.   im not one thatll worry ABOUT CONTINUAKM BUT I KNOW A FEW PEOPLE THAT DONT HAVE TABLETS, LAPTOPS OR EVEN DESKTOPS AND THEIR LIFE IS ON THE PHONE SO YEH THEY COULD BUY A MONITOR AND A DOCKING STATION FOR THEIR PHONE WITH A WIRELESS CONTROLLER, FOR ME MAOUS AND KEYBOard then yeh your phone is your pc and personally thats the whole point isnt it?  I use alot of powerfull software that would simply be too slow on a phone but it wont be in years from now when intel have their 3d processors up and runing, I would love that setup. 
  • steve jobs of microsoft lol now ive heard it all.  Already we have windows 10 which is great but it was released without a pad and without a phone, already we can see the skype intergration isnt yet in the os but we are told the phone version is feature complete, i havent seen that yet.  Theres no way in hell steve jobs would let apple  realease productes that wernt ready from the disquised promises we were shown in january.  Yes im sure theyll arive and ill be very happy to use them like answering my phone on my pc or surface tablet, even texting on any but they should have realesed all the produts together when complete and not this stagered unfinished aproach.   And before the bashing starts windows 10 is the best os i have ever used on desktop and lumia 930(dont call it a surface pphone plse lumia rules.) with 8.1 phone is the best phone os i have experienced. So yeh im a windows fan boy but theres still im my opinion huge marketing issues at microsoft.
  • Microsoft is in a very different position than Apple was when Jobs was brought back for its historic revival. They know they are lagging, but they are not waiting until they are almost dead. Hell, Microsoft invested in Apple at the time. Can you imagine google investing in Microsoft to allow it to stay afloat.....yeah, it was that bad. Jobs hence had the luxury of starting from a clean slate and was able to wait until finished products were released. In stark contrast, Windows still runs on about a billion machines, Microsoft is still financially sound and in order to stay relevant AND keep existing customers happy, they are doing things the way they should be doing it. When someone calls Nadella the Steve Jobs of Microsoft, what they mean is that he is presiding over microsoft at a time of revival and seems to be spearheading all efforts with the right mindset and balance. They don't mean that Microsoft = Apple.
  • I haven't enjoyed reading an article this much in a long time....and I read a LOT! It seems well written, gets the point across with ease, doesn't patronize the reader or rely on word gimmickery requiring me to keep the webster's dictionary by my side. Jason Ward for President 2016!
  • Thanks so much for that support! I really appreciate it. I'm glad you enjoyed the piece so much. Please keep coming back. You can follow my pieces if you'd like by hitting the follow button at the top of this article in the browser. And just "follow the author". :-) Hope you continue to enjoy and share! Thanks again! :-) President huh? :-) BIG JOB!!! :-) Maybe speech writer is a better fit. :-)