Microsoft investigating Win32 app support for Continuum on Windows 10 Mobile

With Continuum, capable Windows 10 Mobile devices will be able to act like PCs, hooking up to keyboards, mice, and monitors for a full Windows desktop experience, and Microsoft is looking into ways of expanding these capabilities. Apparently, that involves investigating the possibility of running Win32 apps from phones, according to Microsoft's Kevin Gallo during the Connect() 2015 conference.

From Ginny Caughney on Twitter:

Will Win32 desktop apps be able to run on phones using continuum? Kevin Gallo says it's something they're looking at. #Connect2015

Win32 apps are non-universal, and can't be found on the Windows Store. Users around the world still use and rely on these apps, and it's nice to see Microsoft at least considering giving these users more flexibility.

One way for Win32 apps to get to the Store includes Project Centennial, which is one of the 'bridges' announced at Build early this year. Those software tools, expected in early 2016, will let developers port and package classic Win32 apps and games into the Windows Store. Such a tool would seem necessary to dovetail with Gallo's comment regarding running Win32 apps on phones.

Source: Ginny Caughney (Twitter)

132 Comments
  • Oh brother....  how about just get it working smoothly and up to par with Android & ios??  
  • It has always been working smoothly and on par with the others for me. Not sure what you mean there.
  • I think he's talking about W10 on mobile, which is still far from bugfree.
  • Yes.. w10 mobile, isn't that what this article is about?
  • With this MS could possibly kill Apple in regards to mobile music / cinema production.....
    ....
    I know that's something a lit if us are interested in, but Apple has always gotten all the attention from companies like Cakewalk, Akai, Korg, Boss, Ableton, and more.. We would be able to produce in the go, and that would be awesome....
    ...
    MS really needs to make thus happen. This is a huge differentiator... Not to mention other OEM'S would want to jump on the bandwagon...
    The next MPC should be powered by WinMo10..
  • Whatever are you talking about? You do know cakewalk's DAW sonar is windows only??? Furthermore, Apple's ios and osx audio drivers are way better than windows. Windows 10 wasapi and wdm Will be good but still not in the same league as core audio.
  • Forget Cakewalk,, then!!!.... The point is that you can't run these legacy apps on, or from,, a iPhone 6....
    .....
    That's the kicker... The driver issue is combatable..
  • Dude, spend some time at the zzsounds our Guitar Center site and there are a ton of IOS hardware specific devices and applications set to run on IOS and android only. Microsoft has sooo much to do to make up ground. They just don't seem to be engaged with any of the right partners in any creative area.
  • Microsoft has zero catching up. He's talking about REAL DAWs (pro tools, studio one, ableton) not shitty mobile apps.
  • MS dont even have lagfree audio in Windows. They said it is under development but...
  • I dunno. I'm on build 10581 and it seems pretty smoth and on par to other OS's for me. 
  • Nothing in computing is, or ever will be, bug free. Now you can move on with your life.
  • @ bijak_riyandi Said no Windows Phone user, ever.
  • It has always been working smoothly and on par with the others for me too, hated the force close and crahses of the LAGDROID, cant imagine using any other OS , if he means W10M, we all know its in test phase, and come long way since the first insider build, im using it as a daily driver on mu Lumia 1520 hardly gives me a problem, loving the new Camera Features, and the unifed experience, which im sure wud be more advanced in future. keep it up MS.
  • Rewind 7 years. If you offered people a choice between two identical devices (with equal battery life), one running iOS and the other running full Windows, which do you think the majority of people would have chosen? Granted, the path to getting consumers there now is orders of magnitude more difficult given the app gap. But, honestly, this is the future -- whether Microsoft or someone else gets us there. It may take 10 years, but eventually people will look back and laugh about the stopgap toy OSes early smartphones shipped with.
  • Apple or someone else will follow up with something similar soon, possibly... and when they do, that's when people will flock to the idea and consider it THEIR idea, not Microsoft's
  • iOS running Win32 programs? I don't think so.
  • Apple will never do this...ever they are a lost company who is playing catch up while losing their identity.  I mean they are going to let you get on a yearly payment plan just to keep making new phones and going back to making a 4 inch iphone.  Very few people want or need a iPad Pro (windows rt...cough cough).  Lets see oh yea they gave up on making crap thinner once it started bending. W10 phone has the ability to be the everything device to rule them all.  Hey maybe they'll let you install iTunes on it to synch your playlist.
  • They are still too stubborn for that. Cook insist on keeping MacOS and iOS separate, while they could have considered it for the iPad Pro. So Apple is no threat for time being on this part. Google, they don't have desktop OS to mix with.
  • I think that they would have chosen iOS quite frankly. We were in a Windows Vista world and Vista ran like crap on high end systems.
  • Vista ran fine on high end system. OEMs kept installing it on older, budget systems and it ran like crap on those. There were some intitial issues with drivers. Those were resolved a few months after vista launched. After that, it ran fine. The only thing that bothered me about Vista was that my hard drive was always spinning.
  • Vista ran fine on ultra mobile, 780 gram Toshiba laptop R500, that was so ahead of its time in 07, only missing USB-C :-). But stop these topics, those make me want to reconsider my 950XL order, want desktop on phones, full desktop
  • I rather have Vista than XP. Vista ran fine for me.
  • The core UX was very laggy compared to XP, especially in File Explorer.
  • Aero had system requirements, if you forced it to run and complain about performance issues, that's your problem. It's a damn 3D UI. What don't you get? It ran perfectly smooth on my computer at the time and guess what, it didn't even have proper Vista Drivers, because Nvidia cut support to the nForce 4 Chipset. I had to hack it or the AGP driver  would cause a BSOD. Once I figured outthe driver issue though, it ran 100% for me.
  • It works great! I've used both Android and iOS (both on flagships) and find Windows Mobile superior to both. I don't give a sh*t about apps, as Windows has everything I need, and more. If you are referencing to Windows 10 Mobile not working smoothly, please remember that it hasn't even been released yet!
  • What are you talking about?  There are brand new 950 phones in people's hands running it today.  It most certainly has been released.
  • optimized for those phones.  And not everyone has these issues which is the funny part.  My 830 runs great.  A few things here and there.  I didn't even do a factory reset.  Just went straight from 8.1 and it kept everything as is.  But I hear horror stories from others.  so obviously there's a difference.  Maybe the apps that are being installed or who knows.  There are a lot of fake apps in the stores, they could possibly cause registry/database to be wonky.  It could be the state things were in during upgrade.  It could be anything really.  That's why when it goes RTM it's best to go to 8.1 and upgrade that way.  this is the way it's meant to be upgraded.  The majority of people out there will be getting it this way.
  • PPL were whining months back when it wasnt and its been days since its launched, even IOS 9 had bugs when released, stop complaining and start enjoying, Loving W10M since the first insider build, getting better and better.  
  • I understand that windows mobile has all the apps that you need and use. However, if you do enjoy the platform and want to see it grow or at least have it continue as a "going concern", then you ought to care about apps available on the platform whether or not u use them. I get by with the current amount of apps in the store but I sorely miss my banking app. I could list a few apps that I wish were available but that's pointless.
    I'm a loyal fan but there are many others who aren't as patient. The bigger goal is to attract others to the platform. So yes it does what YOU need it to do but msft acknowledges that it wants to grow it's market share if it is going to continue in the phone business. Let's hope universal apps is the magic that will wow developers and ultimately new consumers.
  • Well it doesn't have HearthStone     
  • Yeah, but they still gotta keep planning for future updates... What do you want them to do??
  • I know, right? Continuum works flawlessly on Android and iOS. Like, WTH, right?!
  • People don't care about continuum or else this phone would be talk of the town. 
  • Yea, that's why the preorders are sold out...oh wait never mind
  • I remember when Lumia 900 was constantly outsold the first quarter, and in the end they sold something like 300k. Sold out means nothing.
  • And I doubt it has anything to do with Continuum Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Because not many people know about Continuum lol.
  • It's been better for a while...This will make the competition if you will completely obsolete.
  • Microsoft suffers from ADHD so they cannot focus on one thing. Before one thing is properly finished, they start trying and testing new things. In the end they come up with many new and good ideas and features but either they cancel the project or the new feature is available for select users and countries only.
  • You talk about MS as though it is just one guy and not as an organization with tens or thousands of employees divided into hundreds of teams each working on something else.
  • sounds more like you are describing Google..   
  • absolutely ... because android and ios support native win32 pc apps for years now. i am so used to using full adobe photoshop via my display adapter on my galaxy i don't get why microsoft takes so long to get this right ... oh wait ...
  • Continuum doesn't work with adobe either.
  • All it needs is developer support......sadly, without that, we will forever be the 3%
  • Even with developer support it will stay at 3%. People aren't interested in using Windows. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Europe would like to disagree with that.   Windows Phone has decent, and even great numbers in some European countries, even though Microsoft never even pushed the phones there,   why oooh why Microsoft are you not just focusing on the European and South American market??  You have 2 digit market share in some countries, how about pushing the OS in those regions?? The US is not the world, it is in fact decreasing in importance every day .. sure Microsoft is based in US, but the are a global company after all ...         
  • Right because working on only ONE thing at a time is good for progress.
  • I love Windows phone.
  • Wonder if they'd get it working on ARM phones. That'd be awesome.
  • Or even RT Surface ;)
  • Wouldn't hold my breath on that one.
  • Huh? Windows RT already has full WIn32 support. Only Windows Mobile is lacking it.
  • eeeemm  no it does not .. never has, never will
  • Well if my speculation is right and Project Centennial is how Microsoft wants to get Win32 apps on Continuum, then yeah they'll be ARM compatible (as they'll be Universal Windows Applications).
  • Depending on how the process works. If it involves compiling it would work for new programs but not for existing ones. I think just running a phone on an Intel processor would be a far better idea.
  • If that Project Centennial works well enough it could well happen (pacakaging all the Win32 APIs).
  • Problem is the companies still using 16bit software
  • I read this to mean x86-based SOCs must be very close to being in (or are already in) prototype phones. Otherwise why would they even do this? They can't recompile existing apps for ARM...
  • in theory using a VM like solution they could run w32on ARM... not quite sure performance will be any good though. a x86 phone would simplify things a lot.
  • Security and Management...simple. Also I still keep wondering about RemoteApp, which is currently available but you need to run off Azure. =[
  • well  the Xbox One could not play Xbox 360 games because of different processors ....  but wait ..now it can :)    
  • *cough* Surface phone *cough* ?
  • Nope, not on a Surface phone. If you read the story, the developer tools won't even be available until 2016, if it's a success at all at that, or technically feasable. If it becomes a thing, it wouldn't be possible until a, let's call it, 'Surface Phone gen 2 or 3', if there's even a Surface phone at all. At this point, at 1.7% share of mobile, they're probably thinking, 'Why bother'?
  • 1.7% is the shipments share for the quarter, FFS, stop echoing the wrong thing. Market share includes even older phones.
  • Hey Cortana: "On screen", the world will be a world full of lingering screens for phones
  • Hmmm I'm waiting to see if the "surface phone" comes next year with full desktop Windows 10 OS to install BlueStacks to use Android Apps^_~
  • hope when they port win32 apps, all the viruses are going to be ommited :)
  • It will... They are porting it to a universal windows app ... So no place for viruses in windows store..
  • If you truly think that, you have A LOT to learn.
  • This would be awesome and for sure make Continuum much more relevant to many more people.
  • Now that might turn a Windows 10 Mobile phone into something interesting. That way I can run the development emulator of windows phone 7 and have the best mobile experience ever. Jokes aside, this actually makes me interested in WM10. And a little less reluctant towards it.
  • Exactly... MS's only hope at relevance in mobile is to think outside the box, and do big things that have never been done before.
  • 'Coming soon'... :(
  • Do the words 'Hope' and 'Patience' also make you frown? =[
  • i had hope and patience since wp7 came out.... 
  • ^this, still have, so just hoping it comes true, and I'LL have to buy 2 phones in less than six months, 950 xl now and a great 6.3" W64 device in May
  • This seems pretty logical. I've always figured that the "Surface Phone" will be x86 and will be able to run desktop apps via Project Centinnial. That makes it so it's still secure, but can be a true Pocket PC
  • If project Centennial is a success, there might not be a need for a x86 phone as the ported apps will be Universal apps. As far as I know, it's not supposed to be an emulator like Astoria was.
  • You were able to run "Win32" code in Windows 8.1 apps technically, but that was for side loaded apps and on x86/x64 devices, with the idea being you could reuse your existing business layer of your apps in your modern LOB apps. Would need to hear more about Project Centennial to know exactly how it will work, but it still seems more like it would require x86 processors (unless they've stated otherwise explicitly)
  • "Win32 apps are non-universal, and can't be found on the Windows Store." ...and I said it once before but it bears repeating now...
  • Microsoft can make anything be found on the Windows store then want... What do you mean?
  • He means that before the article was edited by the author, it had stated that at the begining AND end of the same paragraph.
  • Great, perfect, nice... Let's do it.
  • I thought this was one of the best things announced last Spring when it was first suggested. The first reason I thought it would be great was that it could possibliy lead to the ability to automatically have these apps stay in place during a "refresh", until I found out the ability to leave apps in place is not yet available in Win 10 RESET. The second reason I was psyched was that this may be the only way we will ever see Quicken in the Windows store. I see Quicken apps for iOS, and Android, but of course they have ignored WinMobile. Where would Intuit be without Windows? Wish they would push ahead on a Universal App, that would be a big one.  
  • Can't think of any Win32 apps I'd care enough about to install on my phone.
  • VLC for desktop ;)
    Mozilla ?
  • I would like to see both of those as well as photoshop.
  • The key being ones that you'd care about but you know billions also might have a different opinion..? ;)
  • I was just helping Lundon44 to find some apps he may care enough to install it in his phone.. I'm not stoping any one of those billion people from having different opinion... Now you have that ;)
  • I wouldn't mind seeing Xbox controller support though.. Whats the point of universal games if we need to touch our TVs to play or use a mouse?
  • 3Ds Max
  • Jands vista 2 would be a godsend.
  • That would be sweet, I won't need a pc anymore!!!! My dream come true! Posted from my awesome BlackBerry Passport
  • Win32 apps are useless in a sandbox environment and would never work as ARM apps. Scale the real Windows 10 down to the phone and let users run what they want. Put 128gb memory in the phones to allow for the higher OS overhead.
  • They could have just put Windows RT on the phones. Then you would have gotten all what is needed to compile WIn32 Apps for ARM....(without any dubious framework...mind you?)
  • As others have said here, putting an x5, x7 or even M3 (probably not possible) CPU in a phone would make things so much easier for MS. If that's NOT what they are looking into I don't understand what they're thinking, that would be a huge waste of resources and man-hours. There are many peripherals that wouldn't work with a virtual solution e.g. USB DAC's.
  • Not sure about x5, but x7 is a tablet SoC.
  • I can't wait to run Microsoft Bob on my phone!  :-)
  • This would be unreal.  I would pitch this to my company to replace laptops if I could run w32 apps and more than one at a time.
  • Hey Windows Central, you could perhaps try and get Ginny's name right?
  • You should be clear about what Project Centennial actually does instead of confusing people, which seems to be happening all the time on this site. Project Coninuum is based on App-V. It's basically packaging a Win32 app and adding a few APIs (for things like live tiles). The benefit of packaging these apps is the virtual registry (which means no more leftover crap in the real registry), virtual file locations and more security (these apps will need permissions to do certain things just like regular UWP apps).   It does NOT mean that you'll be able to run these apps on ARM based phones. This article makes it sound like if I bought a Lumia 950/950 XL I might be able to run Win32 apps on it at some point and that is not the case. What is a very likely possibility is an Intel based phone that when connected to an external screen is actually a PC that can run Win32 apps. It will be great for LOB apps and to avoid confusion will probably not use the Lumia brand. I think there's another brand for Microsoft 2-in-1s they could use for that device...
  • hooray for project coninuum!
  • There is no reason a Win32 app couldn't work on ARM when re-compiled (which would be necessary), assuming it doesn't use any assembly-code.
  • True. However you would need a full Windows like Windows RT on ARM devices in order to do so, not just Windows Mobile. In fact if Microsoft were serious about Win32 on ARM the Surface 3 with x86 should never have happened.