Microsoft's Surface phone should be much more than just a 'phone'

At least that's what the critics say about the 16 million legacy apps that will accompany full Windows 10 on a potential ARM-based Surface "phone". Though the prospect of such a device excites techies, those critics' concerns are not without merit.

Their condemnations conjure unappealing images of a user attempting to run full Photoshop on a five-inch display, for instance. Moreover, they ask legitimate questions such as, "How many consumers are asking for desktop apps on their touch-friendly smartphones?" Mobile apps are ideal for the traditional smartphone form factor, and smartphone users are both familiar and comfortable with them after all. Other than techies like myself and some of you reading this, there honestly are not many folks looking to put full desktop apps on a smartphone.

So if it's obvious that there is no huge demand for Win32 apps on phones, why does it seem like Microsoft is so focused on making it happen? Well … it's not.

A matter of perspective and positioning

Perception matters. In relation to its phone-related mobile strategy, Microsoft has to work very hard to reshape how it is perceived if it will succeed.

If my ongoing analysis is correct, Microsoft's Surface phone will not be a phone at all, but it will be an ultramobile PC with telephony. If accurate, the Who-wants-Win32-apps-on-a-phone question from critics does not apply here. It is inherently irrelevant. Why? The device that will be running these Win32 apps will not be a phone. It will be a Windows 10 PC and, and as we know, Win32 apps have a place on PCs.

Smartphones are dead: Evolve or die, Microsoft's ultramobile PC strategy

If that's the case, then why are we having this conversation within the context of smartphones, and a Surface phone to be precise? Simple. Just as the Surface brought the tablet into the laptop conversation, this category-defining ultramobile Surface PC will also cross boundaries.

We have been hardened to think "phone" when it comes to pocketable devices.

This is where the problem of perception rears its head in relation to the hopes of the Windows phone fan. Since 2010, we have grown accustomed to the "wait until next year" placing of our faith in what Microsoft's phone strategy would finally yield. From Windows Phone 7 to the improvements of Windows Phone 7.5, to Windows Phone 8 and the revisions of Windows Phone 8.1, to the not-ready-for-prime-time Windows 10 Mobile when it debuted, fans hopes in Redmond's "phone strategy," seven years later are unfulfilled.

Coupled with the impossible-to-ignore success of Apple and Google in the smartphone arena, our minds have been hardened to think "phone" when it comes to a pocketable computing device with telephony. Suggestions that Microsoft will launch a pocketable Windows 10 PC that does what a phone does are met with "Call-it-what-you-want, it's-a-smartphone" assertions.

Redefining and mobilizing the PC

Without engaging in a semantics war,, Microsoft's potential positioning of a telephony-enabled ultramobile Surface PC as the lowest tier in the Surface line (a reimagined Surface Mini perhaps as I first presented in January 2015) is about actual positioning of an actual PC, and not a war of words.

Thus, such a device would not be a phone any more than a Surface Pro from which one can make Skype calls is a phone. It's a PC. And it is from this PC position that I believe Microsoft will be approaching the mobile war.

Full Windows on ARM and the millions of Win32 apps it brings to cellular PCs and this potential ultramobile Surface are not merely about expanding the catalog of apps on a Windows phone. It is about Microsoft expanding the definition and footprint of the PC deeper into the mobile space.

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Microsoft is expanding the definition and footprint of the PC deeper into the mobile space.

Microsoft's ultramobile Surface is the solution to a declining PC market and evolution to a plateauing smartphone market. It is a long play where Microsoft will be placing a highly portable Windows 10 PC among its family of Surface PCs: the Surface, Surface Book and the reimagined desktop, the Surface Studio.

An adaptive shell will ensure a touch-friendly mobile experience on this ultramobile PC. Continuum will allow for a rich desktop experience where a user will be able to pin apps to a taskbar, use multiple Windows and more when connected to a larger display, mouse and keyboard.

And, ideally Project Centennial, (which I've predicted Microsoft will aggressively push this year because of cellular PCs, Windows 10 Cloud and to prepare for an ultramobile Surface), will modernize Win32 apps by converting them to UWP apps. Furthermore, just as any Windows 10 PC runs both Win32 and Store apps, this ultramobile PC will as well and will benefit from Microsoft's efforts to bring UWP apps to the platform through the app bridges and other means. And, yes, it will make phone calls.

Would criticism of an ultramobile PC persist if Microsoft were successful in mobile?

Samsung's next flagship might have a Continuum-like feature, allowing users to dock their phones and have desktop-like experiences. Though there are challenges to Android's desktop experience, such a move is likely seen as a beneficial evolution of Android's success in mobile. With a catalog of mobile apps in the millions and mobile success backing it, there is likely little resistance to Samsung making this move.

The PC, merged with the phone, is being pushed into a new form factor and deeper into the mobile space.

What if Microsoft had a strong UWP app catalog comparable to that of Apple's and Google's app stores, and it was equally successful in mobile? If that were the case, I doubt its choice to add 16 million legacy apps to that resource, via full Windows on an ultramobile PC positioned to redefine and expand the footprint of the PC further into mobile, would be met with, "No one wants Win32 apps on a phone." This is true particularly because adaptive shells assure users of a smooth mobile experience, and Continuum's continued evolution will provide an experience comparable to a desktop experience.

It would likely be perceived by many as the natural evolution and converging of personal computing within the Windows ecosystem. Its position in mobile would be retained and merged with a PC strategy that would be pushing the PC into a new form factor and deeper into the mobile space.

Pushing the PC into smartphone territory

In the absence of being preceded with a successful position in mobile, Microsoft is attempting to do just this. With full Windows 10 on an ultramobile Surface, Redmond will be adding its vast Win32 app library to just about 600,000 Store apps. Rival platforms have stores that exceed two million apps.

A PC, not a phone, is being positioned to affect Microsoft's mobile fortunes.

Microsoft's strategy is also a move being made in the wake of almost weekly announcements of apps leaving Windows and a shrinking smartphone market presence.

Though a critical eye is certainly warranted, this challenging position coupled with our expectations that a phone, not a PC, would be positioned to affect Microsoft's mobile fortunes may make some overly critical of this potential ultramobile PC strategy.

A PC perspective may hold promise for Microsoft partners

I don't believe this ultramobile Surface will immediately drive a mass of iPhone and Android phone users to Microsoft's mobile vision, as some fans may hope. Nor do I believe that it will be an absolute flop, as many critics claim. As a new type of PC with telephony capabilities, I believe that over time certain markets will slowly begin to embrace it. The enterprise will likely be first.

Microsoft's partners are more inclined to embrace the Surface PC vision than the phone vision.

Third-party manufacturers that are more inclined to embrace Microsoft's Surface PC vision than its phone vision, as evidenced by an industry explosion of 2-in-1s, may begin adding ultramobile PCs to their product portfolios.

Though there are challenges, such as necessary peripherals for Continuum, emerging regions (where a smartphone is usually a consumer's only computing device) may also be a market for an ultramobile PC.

Moreover, users in developed regions looking for a new PC may, in time, see an ultramobile PC that can be a full, highly portable PC and a phone as an option. Particularly, if Microsoft's app ecosystem efforts begin to meet with success (possibly driven in part by cellular PCs beginning later this year) and the Home Hub vision begins to take root.

Continuum's Proximity Connect on an ultramobile Surface in a Home Hub setting, which immediately connects a device, whether it's in a pocket, bag or hand, to a docking station at home (or work) is an appealing feature.

With the right perception comes the right questions

Will Microsoft's ultramobile PC strategy work? I don't know, but a plan at least provides hope. Whatever the outcome, our perception needs to shift from a smartphone-centric point of view to a PC-centric one. We need to look at Microsoft's strategy from its strategic position rather than from the position that our past experiences and the "smartphone war" have trained us to see.

Can Microsoft further redefine the PC and push it into the smartphone space?

Microsoft's mobile war has the company approaching mobile computing and telephony from an entirely new angle.

When we consider what Microsoft is actually doing we realize that the question isn't, "Who wants Win32 apps on a phone?" The better question is, "Can Microsoft further redefine the PC, push it deeper into the mobile space and successfully begin to overlap (even in part) the smartphone market?"

Following the story

What Android and iPhone need to know about Windows phone

Windows phone isn't dead

Smartphones are dead

The untold app gap story

Windows Mobile and the enterprise

I'm a Windows phone fan in an iPhone/Android world. Why? Microsoft has it going on!

The Surface Phone

Jason Ward

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!

  • Thanks for reading folks! Microsoft's approach to the Mobile war is, in my estimation, from an ultramobile PC vantage point that is meant to further redefine the PC and push it deeper into the mobile space. As such the question of who wants Win32 apps on a phone, is not the question to ask, but "Can Microsoft further redefine the PC, push it deeper into the Mobile space, and begin (at least in part) to overlap the smartphone market?, is a more appropriate question. Of course, Project Centennial, the other app Bridges and other developer reaching efforts will need to yield fruit to get mobile apps to the platform as part of the strategy, because the ultramobile PC will run Mobile apps just as other Windows PCs do. I submit that we need to shift to a PC-centric perspective from a smartphone-centric one, and the usual arguments' that accompany it to better clearly see see what Redmond's strategy may be, it's course and the potential outcome. Whether it is destined to succeed or fail, shifting a perspective is fundamentally necessary to "see" it with a greater sense of depth. Will it strategy work. I don't know but let's take a look and LET'S TALK!
  • The thought of having a docking station at home and in work and taking the phone away on the fly is appealing to me. I run a few small businesses. I'm not in need of supercomputing, mostly email, crm, web and some accounting. Having all that on one device that is mobile is my dream come true. Granted that the developers and digital artists will need high spec'd PC's, I don't.
  • Yeah, desktop docking for home and office and a lapdock for on the go (but better and cheaper than the HP x3 Elite lapdock, that dock costs more than a laptop!)
  • Jason's argument is definitely logical and persuasive, the unmentioned truth though is as you say. Most users require a PC now that can be powered from a very small form factor.
    Add phone and touch features and it becomes a phone.
    If we could dock our phone pc's with the high end ones to seamlessy get a faster pc to work on then I think the evolution of the phone is complete, its just another pc peripheral (either the majority of its processing power, or just a box to control high end power).
  • Hey Scott, I think this is where MS is headed. Redline the PC, smaller, portable, (ultra)mobile so that it serves as a persons personal computer at home and work. A new type if PC. Throw in telephony, now something that may have appeal on simply its PC merits, begins to overlap the smartphone space as well. Sure other ecosystem aspects as I point out in the piece have a role in making this successful, but I think this is the angle MS is coming from. When we also consider where MS is investing in mixed reality, 3D Paint, in king etc, I'm sure some ir all of these experiences would be highlighted to bring a truly unique experience to such an ultrmobile device.
  • The thing about artists and engineers needing high specced computers could lead to more advanced external grahics or even external cpus. Then they could really have the same ultramobile device to take with them and get the power in the office when they need it...
  • I cannot speak for anyone else but I would buy one. Being like everyone else is boring. 😎
  • What about practicality though? At the moment, Windows Phone = second-rate mobile experience where you are forced to live with "good-enough" apps and services, IF you're lucky.
  • Carrying an efficient and powerful smartphone / tablet / computer in my pocket is very practical.
  • Lack of powerful and efficient hardware has not been the issue bogging down Windows Phone. In fact, some handsets had capabilities that were unheard of (e.g., 41 megapixel cameras, 'liquid cooling', etc). The issue has and continues to be that the platform lacks the APPS and SERVICES people use. Don't get me wrong: I love Microsoft and wold be thrilled to go back to WP. But I won't do it unless it is practical.
  • Can't say I found myself missing any W10M Apps I'd otherwise find on iOS. Except for a UBS Banking App that would work with a NFC Card I found everything else on W10M which I actually cared for when I was still on iOS during the iPhone 4 era. Another App I'd find usefull, and which isn't available on iOS either, would be Tower for Drone flight/diagnostics which might actually become available once a W32 Phone arrives to the market - I could then actually use the full fledged MissionPlanner 2.0 Program. Other than that? I don't exactly feel like I'm missing out on anything =)
  • Problem is, the paradigm of a Pocket PC was looking successful for MS right up until Apple and Google moved things towards the phone instead. Now MS want to wind back the clock, only with the added restriction of constantly needing to find a monitor to plug in to. Is a regressive fight-back strategy a good idea? I hope so, but fear not.
  • This is my fear too. It will be very hard to gain traction without readily available monitors/keyboards/mice to maximise its potential. That's assuming it'll be more expensive than other smartphones because it would be presumably more powerful.
  • Continuum works on my TV, now. Those are really available.
  • There will be a monitor in your home, at work, in your car, hell I can see bars and restaurants putting monitors at the tables! Hotels putting monitors and docks it room. Just think, the barman/waitress doesn't have to take your order, just bring food and drinks and no waiting for the check! No more school books for kids, they just bring their pc to and from school. So many possibilities.
  • And all these things will be useless without a Windows phone? What is the point? Your data is already ubiquitous in the cloud and computer hardware is really cheap. This doesn't solve any problems. Some restaurant already have terminals at the table. They are cheap Android tablets that can play games and you can pay your bill and use your rewards. Why would I want to worry about connecting my phone to it and hoping it will work?
  • It actually does solve problems, but you wouldn't give Windows Mobile a break if it cured cancer.
  • Well rumor has it that it will be a westworld style tablet device. (foldable) so you probably would be able to use PC apps in tablet mode.
  • That is years away and Microsoft doesn't have a display department. Where are they going to get this display and how are they going to beat Samsung and Apple to it?
  • They already licensed bendable displays from LG I think. Edit: There it is. It's set for 2018. Exactly the timeframe of Surface Phone. Coincidence? I think not! Also they don't need to beat apple and Samsung to it. They just need to do it better.
  • Right, but that means they will be competing with Apple for those Displays and I don't see Microsoft being the winner there. Apple just has too much volume, hey will be able to convince LG. Samsung will probably beat them all though. Now you have Microsoft, Apple and Samsung with bendable displays and the issue becomes software. Who has a great touch platform and apps available for it? Everyone but Microsoft...
  • Cshell, Neon, windows 10 on arm are all they need. And remember android nor iPhone have apps that can dynamically transform depending on the device. If they have foldable devices in the works. It will be a lackluster experience. It's not about who does it first. It's about who does it RIGHT and Microsoft has everything they need to do it right. They have been investing in the right technologies. Also if you haven't been following. Apps are a dead end platform. Bots are the future.
  • Android has had scaling apps since Honeycomb. That isn't exclusive to Microsoft. Bots still require the developer to support your platform. Take the new Starbucks app for instance. It is using bots and is only iOS with Android coming soon. What is the chance it will ever be on Windows?
  • they haven't. Scaling didn't equal making the phone screen bigger. Geesh.
  • Oh, so I suppose that if you say that "they haven't", this Gmail app, for instance, just doesn't exist, right? Or maybe it's just scaling? Now I'm not sure, cause in that case we could probably call MS UWP also just "scaling". Not sure how deep is your knowledge of Android, but mr. bleached is right on this one, and even I, who is exclusivelly on MS "ecosystem", know, that scaling apps and adaptive UI is supported on Adroid since Honeycomb. Hell, even iOS has adaptive UI nowadays.
  • Microsoft is the only one who has adaptive UI NOW. UWP apps scale and fit the screen ratio and size. They are not just projected to the big screen like every other one is doing.
  • The only one? In your dreams – MS is only "the only one" who has the universal platform and adaptive UI extended also to the desktop PC evnironment, but otherwise adaptive UI which scales and fits according to the device and its screen size (and ratio) is pretty much strandard everywhere nowadays. Even iOS supports that for some years (so yeah, apps that are designed like that, such as Mail for example, can benefit from the larger iPhone Plus screen).
  • The way they did it with Surface Pro, Surface Book and Surface Studio.
  • Um, they could do like Apple does and contract with Samsung.
  • Doesn't have to be a monitor. How about a small projector. The Moto Z Insta-Share Projector Mod is pretty small and is around $250. Little pricey, but no bigger than a battery pack. If you are going to work on X86 apps you will want a keyboard/mouse, and MS's own foldable keyboard and Surface Arc mouse are exceptionally portable. There are lots of ways to skin this Ninja Cat other than a setup every where you go.
  • 👍
  • Andycalling I know what you mean the issue with wimo was it was to complex for most people and also abit to ahead of its time. I had various wimo devices and they had lag issues right up until the HTC HD2 that device was a beast and still held up well until a few years ago. What apple did was make things very simple and because if this it took off.
    For me I've never liked iOS or Mac devices but I do see why people went iOS instead of wimo. Microsoft tried to change things with Windows 8 but people were lost going from XP/7 to 8 but people seem to like windows 10 because it has a feel of XP and 7 if Microsoft are to make a phone they need to some how make it simple which is what wimo now is but it also needs the apps that people use day in day out which it is missing. Continuum is the one amazing thing about wimo though having a phone but a fimmimer Windows PC when using continuum could be the next step in PC/mobile/tablet market. Again it needs more apps that people use before it becomes a popular item like iOS and android.
  • I think Microsoft is losing an enourmous opportunity by not implementing CONTINUUM via Chromecast. Many tvs already have chromecast built in which if most hotels have these tvs and bluetooth keyboard/speaker/mouse/etc then the phone could easily adapt to the items in a room already available. Instead they insist on using a wire, miracast or other propriatary technology that is not highly supported. Perhaps there are royalties or cost involved but I believe that if you want your device to succeed, you make sure it supports all technologies so that the user can choose what to buy. From an apple standpoint it makes perfect sense why iPhone only works with Apple things. They are a hardware company and they want to maximize sales of all their products by making them compatible with each other. Microsoft does not build a huge selection of hardware, nor do all manufactures implement miracast or their preferred solutions so the answer would be to make your device as agile and adaptable as possible to the popular standards to empower user choice.
  • mymarcio, WP8 and WinMo10 supports DLNA and Miracast. If Chromecast is supported by the SmartTV, it means DLNA & Miracast are also supported since these are older tech. Which means You can already connect your Windows Phone to any SmartTV, even those that Don't support Chromecast.
  • Hi Eric,
    thanks for clarifying and explaining how the tech works. I guess my question then is, how do I connect my Windows 10 Mobile to the Chromecast TV I currently own. The iPhone sees it but the Windows phone... does not detect it. Using lumia 950XL. I've tried using the "Connect" setting and "Display > Connect to Wireless Display" and was unsuccessful.
    Do you (or anyone) know of a way?
  • AFAIK there's no such thing as a Chromecast TV. what brand is it? Samsung? LG? switch on the Miracast or Screen replication function of the TV. Make sure to allow your Windows Phone on your TV as an allowed device.
  • Older tech also means older b@st@rd business practices e.g. Sony only allowing other Sony devices to connect via miracast or bluetooth. Pay 5 times more to connect a wireless keyboard, that's nice...
  • It should be something, right now it's nothing.
  •   This is where Microsoft continues to fall flat - trying to push the PC into the mobile space without analyzing people use mobile devices. Why is Apple so successful? They understand the mindset between mobile (iPhone / iPad) and Desktop - how people interact with devices on the go vs. sitting at the desk. Where their strategy fails is when mobile and desktop start to blur.  Microsoft's problem is that they don't understand the mobile mindset. Continuum is a great idea, but they can't even get that the UI (not the OS) needs to be different on the Surface in tablet mode than it is when it's in laptop mode - they started to move in the right direction (for tablets) in Windows 8, but 86ed all that work in Windows 10 - now "tablet mode" is nothing more than "alternate app launcher". There's some hope because both the Hololens and the Surface Hub have a UI more appropriate to their form factors, but where is that work on the Surface?  If Microsoft isn't going to change the UI based on behavior, then the conversation is over and Windows will always only be a Desktop OS. If Microsoft let's go of the desktop mentality, THEN we can converse about moving the PC into the Mobile World. 
  • It's not a phone and Microsoft might be better off not calling one so people don't get confused. It's a PC that fits in your pocket and can work as a phone too. It won't replace phones and it would replace computers but it could be a big hit with someone who needs to buy a computer and a phone.
  • That's the point, when the low end laptop market swaps to a phone docked into a keyboard, mouse and monitor then why would people want to lug a second expensive phone around? Windows gets scale in the mobile space at last, and the only way to compete in that market is to produce a desktop os for android, talk about tables turned!
  • "They understand the mindset between mobile (iPhone / iPad) and Desktop ​" Seen their iPad Pro ads lately? They are doing everything they can to convince you that an iPad is a production device with a keyboard, pen and productivity apps. No, not desktop, but certainly laptop. Only thing it doesn't do is run X86 apps like my Surface 3 already does, for less money, with a mouse, which I am used to.
  • I have regular updates on my Surface RT. I wonder if MS is working on integrating that tablet UI into W10 somehow.
  • Hey Jason - Great article.  I believe you cover a lot of theories that should be included in a Sufrace Phone.  The one area I think that limits this possibility at this current time is the Networks.  The current 4g LTE signals are not strong enough to power such a device.  As we start to see the rollout of 5G testing and in 3-5 years when 5G is apparent throughout the country would be the time such a device would work as intended.   Currently today trying to place Skype, Messenger, Facetime or any other type of web video over a cellular network is atrocious to say the least.  The video is very grainy as well as choppy and sometimes hard to even see who you are chatting with.  As eveidenced in a couple of the screenshots you provided, Microsoft shows visuals of being able to video chat while multitasking on such a Surface Phone and today the network would never allow such a form factor.   5G will not only bring the high speed's that we do not have today +1gbps speeds but also extremely low latency which today is a real issue with 4g networks.    
  • I think you got the wrong idea here.
  • Heard of WiFi? I think that most places that you would use the device in its 'fixed' mode, i.e. with a keyboard, mouse, larger screen, you would have access to some sort of WiFi. Beyond that, the point of this is not so you can web chat or be entertained, it is to get stuff done. Doesn't take extraordinary BW to get that Spreadsheet, PowrPoint, Visio, or attach to that SQL backend.  As far as having to get a lot of files, my phone has a 128G SD card. That's as big as the SSD in my company desktop. I can just keep them with me.
  • Thanks Jordan. Well users wouldn't be restricted to cellular. As noted by SvenJ Wifi 📶 is usually available😎
  • Do MS know how to push anything? It's easy as a MS fan to look at the plan and think, yep ultra mobile pc is the future. I've had my 950 for around 18 months and apart from some glitches with Insider builds I'm super pleased with it. This week I read an article telling general public how the likes of Google and Apple we're going to introduce biometric unlocking of their phones using iris scanning. The article is full of all the positives of how wonderful this would be..... No mention of having this on the 950 for the best part of two years, no mention of Windows Phone in any way! MS have made some great improvements with W10M but there's not been any shouting about this, not any pushing this or real publicity and promotion. We know that MS came to mobile too later to beat the others but unless the general public start taking MS seriously it's just ever staying circles as more and more developers shy away for W10M and this more users. By the time the ultra mobile pc is real it'll be touch and go if it's already too late and no matter how many apps are available MS will be lucky to pull Apple and Android customers away from systems that they're already heavily invested in.
  • "We know that MS came to mobile too late" ??? Excuse me?? MS were in fact there all the time, they just weren't doing a particularly good job of it and got swept away by Apple and Android. Now they're busy trying to reinvent the phone, but pretending it's not a phone so they don't get criticized when it fails.
  • Analysis like yours are the point of reference to us of blogger.
  • My view is that whatever the Surface Phone ends up being, MS are/have made a HUGE mistake abandoning the traditional mobile/smartphone market because the younger generation buying the Androids and iPhones will see Windows as a platform in it's entirety as something unfamiliar and, frankly irrelevant. It's great that MS 'create' categories with innovative hardware, but make it 'and' and not 'instead of'.
  • It's obvious this ultramobile Surface PC won't be named phone at all. That would undo everything in regard as to making this device be perceived as a PC with telephone capabilities. This device won't run 16 million win32 programs. It will run win32 apps from the store. Having access to regular win32 programs would: 1. Make the device unsafe
    2. Deteriorate performance over time
    3. Create battery life issues I would also say that for these reasons it will run Windows 10 Cloud and it will not be possible to "upgrade" to Windows 10 Pro.
    Further, the composable shell will be the new Continuum-experience, shifting between mobile-tablet-desktop-(10 foot and holographic) shells on the fly.
  • Jason, we already know what Win32 on a 5-1/2" screen is like, it's called Remote Desktop. I'll gladly take an improved Continuum experience first. But they have to do something about Edge or give us IE11 back as an option. Edge is killing Continuum and it's the reason for its existence since we don't have any apps. ****, I'll take IE11 now and wait for another option later.
  • When I think PC, I think about laying out a 15 year real estate development project in Excel, along with accompanying market study and business plan.  The thought of doing this on a phone makes me want to kill myself.  My desktop PC is perfect for this, but on a phone?  Forget it.  A one month project would take 3 years. 
  • What if your phone can turn into a tablet?. The Surface phone is rumored to be a foldable tablet.
  • You actually want to do that using a keyboard, mouse and decent monitor (or two). The size of the actual PC is somewhat irrelevent as long as it can provide the performance you need, isn't it? What if you could do it with what is currently your phone, just attached to that same keyboard, mouse and monitor(s). Would it be any different? Would you care? Right now if you needed to do that in two places, you would need two desktop setups, a thumb drive, or cloud storage and some discipline to keep the files straight. Or you could use a laptop, but still might want a dock for a bigger/second monitor, peripherals, unless you are dragging one of those 17" behemoths back and forth. What if your computing platform was your phone, with all your files on it, that you could hook to real UI stuff at home or work, but could check that one number you suddenly thought about on the commute (bus,train, cab), even if it is a bit cumbersome.
  • Tom I think Sven offers a great response. The PC in your pocket doesnt necessarily have to be the only 'screen' for that PC. Continuum allows you to take that same device with all of its data, connectivity, programs and more and project it to the screen size you need and connect to the mouse and keyboard you need as well. When done, unplug/disconnect and take it all with you, review it on the device if you so desire while on the go, etc. Reconnect (Proximity Connect will automatically connect you to a docking station even if device is in pocket) when you get home. 😉
  • This solution you mention is already done, it´s called remote desktop. I don´t need my phone to pick up work at home. I can just remote in and work as if I´m still in front of my workstation. From my beat of a PC or from my wife´s crappy laptop. Works either way. In fact, works just like I need it to. You must not work for corporate world either. You can´t just "take your files with you". LOL you would make some compliance and IT people pretty nervous. Also, even if I wasn´t in corporate, and had my own business, not sure I would want to carry my data with me in the subway. Sorry guys, not trying to troll, I´m sure for a small subset of people continuum works wonders, but I still have yet to see a compelling arguement as to why the world needs it.
  • microsoft simply doesnt get it
  • Great article Jason, I wished Microsoft's executives like Satya Nadella had your enthusiasm for Mobile projects, I hope Surface Phone comes in various flavors ranging from middle range device (Snapdragon 625, 2GB RAM, 16GB of storage) up to a flagship device (Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage) but regardless of the specs, the promise to run Win32 apps on ARM is available, just as you can install win32 sofware on an Atom netbook 
  • Thanks Gabriel😎 Various options may be a good thing👍🏿
  • I agree with your analysis. However, even with an awesome mobile PC in your pocket, it's all for nothing if that mobile PC doesn't do basic phone things well. And nobody has yet given me a reasonable explanation of how this Surface mobile device is going to do phone things any better than current Windows Phone has. I would LOVE to have a full PC in my pocket, but the majority of other people on the planet are not going to give up their mobile phones for a mobile PC that doesn't have basic things like Snapchat, Tinder, or banking apps that allow mobile deposit. And I'm still not seeing how Win32 apps are going to change that, so a Surface Phone is going to be in a tech no-mans-land: underpowered as a PC, while lacking all of the desired functionality of a smartphone.
  • Lol. Snap and tinder are not basic things.
  • Hey Jason. Great job. Moreso, than any of your earlier articles laying out the future of WM you really nailed it this time. Well done. With OLED flexible screens now on the horizon in 2018 I can see where MS is going with it's mobile strategy -- bringing the PC further into mobile. Regardless of how it works out I think MS mobile play is here to stay at least for a few more years at the minimum.
  • Thanks mobilejk. Appreciate that😎
  • The same question applies: 'who wants (or needs) Microsoft to further redefine the pc and push it further into the mobile space?' There has to be consumer or Business desire and either that already exists or you design a product that creates it. Which ten of the 16 million applications are going to create that desire, that need, on a portable device? Can anyone name ten? Out of 16 million??
  • I think they've ceded tons of mindshare in this space, so it will take a monumental effort to get back to even 10% marketshare. I rode the waves from a Lumia 710 to an 810 to eventually a 1020, which was my favorite phone I've ever owned.  I preferred the UI to either Android or iOS, it was always snappy, and the photos I took with it still hold up.  A year after it broke, I ended up with an iPhone 6s+, and it just makes my life easier in a way that a 950 never could. I loved the MS Band, too.  When it was killed off, it was the last nail in the coffin for me.  I'd love to have a Windows Phone and a Band to complete the circle with my PC / Laptop / Xbox, but until I see a consistent release schedule that doesn't require me to hop carriers to have access to upgrades, I'm going to have to stickwith something with a bit more of a track record.
  • Microsoft needs to pull its finger out of its ass and start delivering in this ecosystem before what's left of the users finally jump ship. I'm coming to the end of my tether with instability on my L650, and just looking for a reason to move elsewhere. The Surface Phone may be enough to persuade me to stay, but it needs to stop being so quasi-imaginary. The alternative, I suppose, is using MS apps on an alternative OS....
  • On the same boat with my 650, almost ready to switch
  • Why would anyone still be using a 650 in 2017? It doesn't even do Continuum does it? We should all be on 950's or the HP Elite X3.
  • Build quality on 950xl is crap, very fragile compared to 1020 and 1520. Surface phone needs to be good.
  • No issues with my 950 XL after a year--certainly nowhere even near "crap". I am concerned though with the lack of any more than just the couple of 3rd party products available in the market.
  • 950 series is great. Quality is NOT crap.
  • Anyone who says hte 950 build quality isn't crap clearly has never felt an S6/S7 or iPhone... I had a 950 and I wouldn't dare compare that build to anything over $250
  • Dude, are you being sarcastic? How old do you think a L650 is? Hint - it's younger than the 950. No, the L650 doesn't do Continuum nor even wireless charging...but why would anyone willing pay for features they aren't going to use or really miss?
  • If we could get them in India.
  • Troll.
  • Agree.
  • I have a 950. Number of times I have used continuum: zero.
  • Get a HP Elite x3. It's almost perfect. 650 is great for what it is but, under powered.
  • Both my wife and I use the L650 and we don't have any problems at all.
  • I hope Microsoft's iOS bridge succeeds, and the app gap problem is finally fixed, but even if that doesn't happen (although I have crossed fingers) you still have chance to install Bluestacks 2 win32 on a high end Windows Surface phone that has 4GB of RAM and you can install all apps that don't exist in Windows appstore like Snapchat and youtube, for example.
  • The trouble is most people don't care about this futuristic wishful thinking but they want a working device today. Besides, the "shift" will be gradual and there's no chance Microsoft can become relevant without a full suite of "regular" apps that people use right now. I may be wrong on thay but majority of people don't care about continuum or a foldable device (prefer monoblock). In my humble opinion Microsoft should be doing exactly what they gave up on -- polish windows 10 mobile, produce phones for the masses and some high end, make sure people have apps through all the bridges, use money to fund some key app developers, stop alienating users by endless OS reboots, and then work concurrently on the next gen solutions.
  • You cant use that argument. Before Smartphones in 2007 millions of people had phones that worked fine or so they thought at the time. The same way your thinking now about Smartphones. But Smartphones eventually started to boom in 2010 onwards. Even though people were fine with Mobile Phones from 1997-2006. It's called tech advances. Smartphones will not be and are not the be all end all forever. Apps are not the be all end all forever. It was only a matter of time till mobile CPUs caught up enough to be able to run full Operating systems and full Win 32 apps. I can understand the adoption won't be instant. The same way Smartphone adoption was not instant. In the first 3 years of Smartphones Iphone sold 3 mill 2007, 7 mill 2008 and 12 mill 2009. Compare that to 2010-2016. Where Iphones hit 40 mill +. Only the tech heads bought Smartphones to begin with. It happens with all big changes in tech. I think why so many are refusing the Shift to Pocket PCs is that Apple and Google just are nowhere near ready. And do not have OS designed to run on a smaller device. While MS have spent the last 7 years adapting a unified Windows to eventually lead to what we hopefully will see this year at Build and in Novemeber where MS reveal new hardware in the Surface family.
  • Apple sold 79 million iPhones last quarter. That one phone sold more than all PCs combined. People are not going back to PCs, especially if it means they have to carry a Windows phone. There is no advantage to combining the platforms. Your phone experience will suffer and so will your PC experience.
  • And yet 2.4 billion unique users used Windows PC last year in 2016. How many of the 79million Iphones sold last year are existing upgrades? You cannot start comparing the saturated Iphone market where users upgrade free every year, to the PC market which users upgrade every 5 years or so. The iPhone market isn't growing anymore. Hence why their profits have dropped for the last 18 months.
  • How many of those PCs were Windows 10? Even giving the update away, they could only get a quarter of users on Windows 10. The other versions of Windows are irrelevant as they cannot run the same apps. If the PC user base is so much bigger than smartphones, why are developers completely ignoring Windows?
  • PCs dont run many APPs they run programs, and most PCs with older operating systems "XP, Vista, WIN7, WIN8 and Win10 can run programs that still work & run fine. So all those billions of PC users running windows programs are doing just fine. 
  • Can't believe the upvotes on this, jeez give it up people. Mature consumer tech segments usually have a big winner, a smaller winner, and everyone else is a loser. MS will gush money investing as much as Apple and Samsung but getting only a fraction of the return, stuck at 10% market share (if they're lucky) with no compelling reason for the majority to switch platform even if they achieve app parity. So they have to go for more of a breakthrough "iPhone moment". If MS comes up with a compelling new device that fits in your pocket that kids can play full screen-keyboard-mouse Minecraft on, then it won't matter how few apps there are, it will fly off the shelves and trigger massive developer interest. Yes it's kind of a hail Mary, but if you're way behind with the clock ticking down, do you just stick to the old playbook or do you try to change the game?
  • I would like to direct people to this A-MA-ZING forum thread: It's a discussion of what you would do differently if you could run full windows on ARM devices (so tablet or 'pocket PC')
  • Now I really feel like I am reading the same articles over and over. Keep writing Jason, I will keep reading anyway!
  • If successful, this won't happen overnight!....I would give it a Five to Ten year plan.....
  • They needed it 5 years ago. Microsoft will be completely irrelevant in 5 years except maybe in enterprise. At that point, enterprise will start eroding as well.
  • Completely irrelevant? You are freaking out of your damn mind brotha! Microsoft will be here long after you are gone.
  • People like this don't see what the current reality is - MS is not targeting the consumer cell phone space.  That ship has sailed.  They're targeting the convergence of the PC with the phone.  Right now, you own a PC and you own a phone.  If it's a Win10Mo phone, then all the better, since you're not frustrated enough with the dearth of consumer-focused apps to move to iOS or Android.  For you, replacing your two devices with one logically would have great appeal, as it would for the enterprise.  But unless and until MS addresses the app gap, the consumer that owns a PC and an Android or iPhone will not find this convergence particularly compelling.  UWP apps will only enhance the Windows-centric experience.  But if your bank, for example, doesn't offer a Win10Mo app (and most don't), I don't see them suddenly deciding to invest in a UWP app.  For MS to offer a compelling alternative to the consumer, they simply must address the app gap, and right now, it appears that the only way that could happen is through the bridges.  Solve that problem, and I suspect people would gladly ditch their Android+PC combination for this "ultramobile" PC with cellular alternative.  JMO.
  • have you seen their stock lately? MSFT has beaten their highest back in 1998 and is still rising.  They are slowly moving into consumer space (not that Windows was ever part of it), but looking at XBOX, Digital media(movies, Music), Hardware (surface, surface book) and Microsoft Stores.  These are things you might have not noticed the passed decade.  They're shifting to consumer space.
  • I never said that they're not in the consumer space.  I said that "MS is not targeting the consumer cell phone space".  They've made no bones about it either, referring to it as "retrenching" with an enterprise focus. 
  • Business will embrace this. Right now many have to buy a computer and a phone for their workers. If they could buy just a phone? Many benefits to this.
  • Will they? Desktop computers are good for 5+ years these days and laptops too. A smartphone is easily broken or lost and isn't very powerful. HP hasn't seemed to have any luck with this model. We haven't heard a single success story from them!
  • That's a crazy statement. You realise nearly a quaternof the world's population used Windows last year right? 2.4 billion unique devices.
  • And that same quarter of the worlds population likely spent more of their computing time on competing platforms. The danger for MS is customers can increasingly do more of their workflow on iOS/Android and we're not far away from a tipping point where Windows just doesn't have enough advantages to maintain it's relevance.
  • Lol. No they didn't mate. Smartphones unique jserbase isn't even at 1 billion. Try half that at 500 million. The sales of Smartphones each year are upgrades. Not new customers. That's why all the reports on the smartphone market last year are that it has peaked. And not growing.
  • It is all mobile these days and desktop is dropping. In a few years it isn't crazy to imagine that desktop will be relegated to enterprise and niche markets.
  • Did you type your comment on a phone or a PC?
  • Mobile. Reading and replying to comments is more comfortable with Mobile. I am not stuck to a desk and it is more personal and hands on. For the most part, I find my Nexus 6 more pleasing to use compared to my Surface Pro 3. Unless I am doing something intensive like creating spreadsheets.
  • Iam not shure where you work bleached, but where i work at my 2 jobs cell phones are baned /not allowed in the work area & we only use windows PCs for real work all day. Cell phones are only allowed on breaks and lunch outside the work area!! That incudes my wife at her Hi school as a teacher all day too no cell phones in the class room just PCs & laptops in Lab rooms or on carts. Thats millions of people very day, dayin and dayout.
  • Yeah, we are not supposed to use cell phones at work, but everyone has their phones for breaks. I travel and use mine for work email though.
  • The technology changes in the coming 5 years could provide a very favorable environment for the success of Cellular PC: -  5G provides an 'always connected' high speed network. -  The mobile processors based on the 7nm (2018), 5nm (2020) and 3nm (2022) chips will arrive.  All day battery life could become feasible. -  The W10 user base will surpass 1 billion plus.  The business and enterprise users will lead the way to adopt Cellular PCs. -  The adaptable CShell, Project NEON, W10 on ARM, high growth of UWP and Centennial apps will push the adoption from the software side. -  The rumored foldable screens (2 or 3) happen to be very critical for the success of Cellular PC.  It would provide adequate screen real estate for the Win32 and Web apps.  It can use W10M UI when folded and switch to W10 Cloud when unfolded. I predict that the first Surface Cellular PC phone could be released in the next Spring with RS4 and use a 7nm Snapdragon processor.
  • Except there are no mainstream x86 programs that haven't been replaced by a mobile app. Microsoft and Apple will be hard pressed to beat Samsung to foldable displays. Microsoft really is in a bad position due to their complete failure with mobile.
  • So one can play the full versions of Mass Effect 1,2 and 3 on an iPhone?
    Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 equivalent PC games are the KILLER x86 apps that would work great on such a device.
    They already have Ultraportable PC's that run these games using Intel Atom Processors. Look up the device: GPD WIN. It's a Full Windows 10 PC that runs all these games; all on a 5.5" display.
    Gaming is the key to the success of this Ultraportable Cellular Device.
    The best part is, there will be no waiting for Developers for this to happen. Just go to Steam, download the game and play.
    Thousands of AAA grade games ready to be played on this devices on launch day.
    Tell a teenager they could get an iPhone and play Pokémon GO and stripped down first person shooters, or get a "Surface Phone" and play full versions Grand Theft Auto 5 and all of those awesome AAA games.
    That Surface Phone would look pretty tempting.
  • You think cellphone hardware is going to be able to play AAA PC titles?! You think they are going be a good experience while on the bus?
  • You have your nanometers completely wrong.
    The yields of the totally new 10 nm process are abysmal - 7 nm is nowhere near mass production
  • According to TSMC's production schedule, 7nm process chip will be out in 2018.  5nm process chip will be out in 2020 while 3nm process chip is scheduled for 2022.  TSMC owns 59% of mocile chip market.
  • Also google for TSMC 5nm 3nm process chips.
  • How big is this device going to be? Will it be pocketable? Why will you carry this large device around if your mobility and mobile experience is going to suffer? Will you need a separate display for it to be useful? A 7" 3x2 or 16x10 Mobile Surface device isn't going to be easy to carry around. It needs to be at least that size if you don't want to be carrying around a bunch of dongles and laptop shells. It is hard to imagine how this will make sense. They also need to release something that will inspire manufacturers. Why will they use Windows when Android gives them the ability to add features and differentiate their device and has a mature app store with desktop app capabilities? Why would they want to be dependent on Microsoft when hasn't historically taken mobile seriously? Google supports new apps all the way back to Gingerbread (2010) while Microsoft supports apps back to Windows 10 Mobile (2015)!
  • In 2006 I had a Samsung slide mobile Phone. About quarter of the size of a Galaxy 8. People said the same exact thing your saying now about Smartphones. Look where we are today.
  • Galaxy S8 will fit in your pocket and has tons of software available. There is nothing ground breaking about a mobile PC. It has been plenty of times, it isn't a revolution like the iPhone in 2007.
  • I agree, I used to be a iSheep that thought the first Galaxy Note (which was just 5inches, but in a world filled with 3.5inch iPhones looked gigantic) was a monstrosity. I now use a HP Elite x3 and love the 6inches. 5.5 inch is about as low as I go these days when considering a new phone. I could see myself carrying a 7inch mobile device :)
  • I used to occasionally carry a Nexus 7 and it would fit in my jeans pocket, but barely. If they removed the bezels, it might be ok.
  • I've got a cheap Lenovo Tab 3 Essential 7 seven inch Android tablet next to my HP Elite x3, SP3 and Win 10 desktop, for the occasional app I'm missing (like Grindr now Meet 'm is blocked from acces to it's servers by Grindr) and I can see a me using a Phone that size (with reduced bezels and a slimmer footprint), actually I would love that, running Windows 10!
  • Just to test that I bought the Cube W10 Windows 10 phone with 7" display, 2 GB RAM, etc.
    Seems slower...
  • you got it bleach! Not only the size will be a big problem but the battery life too. Will it last for 1 day? 2? 2 displays means more power needed = which leads to shortert battery life. The system will be a clean Windows 10 with phone functions? So still no snapchat and other games? How high will be the price and why would you buy such a device when you can have a tablet/ultrabook? Again, they are focusing on a very specific group of people. This wont beat android or apple
  • I think you're forgetting how smartphones started out being small, and now they are getting bigger and wider, just look at the Note line from Samsung and the new iPhone plus line. Obviously they're not gona make it an iPad mini size phone or else it loses its point of being pocketable. As for carrying dongles and all those things, I think you might be getting ahead of yourself. None of us really know what the final product will look like and assuming it'll have to be a certain way to work is just not true. As for inspiring manufactures I believe MS is already doing that, just take a look at HP a big corporation really taking its time to build a flagship phone that runs W10P, clearly HP sees something worth investing in. It's only a matter of time before others follow suit. As for Android customization and providing a more robust app store then maybe, but you have missed the whole point the article is making. Android is a mobile OS, and what it's being presented here is a pocket size PC, something completely different. Yes Android has the apps, and you can customize it as you see fit, but the next level of mobile telephony won't be a smart phone but a pocket size PC that'll do what your phone does and more. PCs are fully customizable, so it only makes sense that that'll be possible to do with the Surface phone. I believe the Surface phone will be the game changer. Eventually Apple and Android will try to copy MS in the pocket size PC, this is where MS has been ahead of the game and Apple and Android will try and play catch up.
  • Samsung has a pocket PC coming out this month and Google has been developing desktop UI for Android. It will be much easier for them to get developers onboard since they are already onboard. If pocket PC becomes a thing, Android is in a better position to make it happen.
  • But Android still lacks legacy support needed for the Enterprise sector or the Steam/GOG library for real PC games. That knife cuts both ways. Microsoft should just use some billions of it's cash pile to entice some high profile developers like Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder and Nintendo to build apps for Windows 10. If Microsoft can get the top 200 iOS/Android apps on Windows 10 by the time the mythical Surface Phone is ready for prime time they have the upper hand on Android in the battle for the Pocket PC! God knows Microsoft has the cash on hand to make it happen ;-)
  • Microsoft tried just paying developers and they only did the bare minimum needed. They need engaged users in order to entice developers. Gimmicks (bridges) and $$ isn't going to do it.
  • Then they should make better contractual deals this time around, deals that specify what's been expected from devs!
  • Or, they can create a compelling platform that will bring them users. Even if they get app parity, why would people change from their current devices? They work just fine. They are unable to pay all developers enough. They need good software and they need to convert users. Lack of apps isn't the issue, it is a symptom. Until they have engaged users, developers will never take them seriously.
  • If it's 6" or less, it's a smartphone with smartphone UI and Continuum 2. If it's larger, it's a tablet/2-in-1/ultrabook possibly with Continuum 2 ;) It should be a strict no-no to run apps without UI optimized for touch and small screen on smartphone-sized display.   First I mistakenly read "why MS should use Windows when Android gives them ability to ..." - which is what MS is already doing in mobile :D Android and iOS have all the same MS apps (+ Next and Arrow for Android) as W10M. People at MS are not stupid, they can see where the user base and/or money is.   For me, it's difficult to see how this kind of "beyond smartphone" smartphone could have much more fertile ground than HP X3. ARM-powered ultrabook that can run Firefox, Inkscape and and does not suck in display and storage - that would be, if the price is right (in other words, not Surface brand), a different story. MS could replace x86 in Hololens 2019 with ARM + x86 emulation. When the UI is all around you, there is no need for dongles, wires and part-time-orphan displays and keyboards ;)
  • "It should be a strict no-no to run apps without UI optimized for touch and small screen on smartphone-sized display."
    You mean the next-next version of Redstone? - Oh you didn't now about the downscaling universal UI?
  • No, I mean that small screen requires UI designed for small screen. Scaling desktop application down to 5-7" just doesn't work.
  • Yes I believe MS has to start talking about all this stuff instead of keeping things so ultra secretive, they need to start showing people what they have planned and what type of devices we can expect too see. They have lost many people over the last year or two because of their flip flop mentality, I have stopped using windows 10 mobile for now( even though I own an x3 and a s4) My daily driver has become a Google Pixel because quite honestly it runs MS services better than my windows phones running 10.
    MS really do need to pull their fingers out of their asses if they expect anyone to get onboard with this new vision or it will be dead in the water.
  • I hope its a Pocket PC. Not a phone. Smartphones and their OS are at their peak. They can't go anywhere else. The next step is true Computing. I want and need the Surface Pocket to move forward. Not be just another Phone with a Phone OS. No need to rely on a dock. The foldable screen could be a proper desktop mode. With a Nintendo DS style pen for precision. Don't know why everyone seems to think so small with how a full desktop could work on a fold out 10inch screen. And have a finger touch quick access 5-6" screen on the front for quick posts on Facebook and texting.
  • You are deep in the minority. That sort of device will most definitely fail. People want mobile devices with mobile operating systems. Just look at the sales difference!
  • Sales difference to what??? Pocket PCs are not out. And you cant compare the 2.4 billion windows users to the much smaller unique userbase of Smartphones.
  • That's where your wrong Richard...Pocket PC, was already out and failed once before....Very few people want this device that MS thinks is going to shift mobile. WHy? because you cannot do mobile things on it using win32 software. Win32 software is designed to be static, in a desktop environment. It's moving backwards to a time when you had a basic mobile phone that just made calls and a desktop's not moving technology forward.
  • Can you call what was in the past a true pocket PC though? A L650 is closer to a true PC than those were.
  • Yeah I remember those. Eeessshhh. I disagree with you. A front screen for finger touch access for texts, making calls, quick Facebook posts. Snapchat, WhatsApp etc. No problem. A foldable out 10" screen with Nintendo DS sized pen for use on a full Desktop on this foldable screen is a great idea. Accurate and easy. And we are talking full Windows 10 which you know you can run every Android app flawlessly right? I do it right now. My kids played Pokémon Go on my Surface Pro 3. Times change. And Smartphones as they are are not the be all end all. Just as Mobile Phones were not the be all end all. Here's the link as to how easy it is to get Android apps on full Windows 10. You can even create shortcuts to them on the desktop. A Pocket PC like this would be amazing. There is no way an Android device as it currently is could compete with a full Windows 10 device that can run everything Android and everything Win 32. It's just not even fair.
  • There is no way to know if Android emulation will work in "beyond smartphone" device. It is possible that MS will block it - in favor of UWP apps. If emulation works, $100 Android phone may beat "beyond smartphone" in mobile app performance. Like $300 laptop may beat Continuum "beyond smartphone" in desktop performance, storage and ease of use.
  • If its full Windows 10 MS don't block anything on FULL Windows 10. If its not full Windows 10 then your right. Bit the rumours are its looking like full Windows 10.
  • I fail to see how people are going to switch to a PC-like device that doesn't run apps natively. Sure, you can use a workaround to get Android apps on Windows. But why are people going to switch to a Surface Phone just to use workarounds for apps that run perfectly for them now? A Surface Phone is the worst of both worlds: An underpowered PC that doubles as a smartphone with no apps.
  • Pocket PCs have been available and popular for quite a while now. Microsoft missed the boat. Last quarter there were 400 million pocket PCs sold vs what, maybe 60 or 70 million PCs? Microsoft won't be able to keep up. External display support isn't unique and legacy Windows programs are no longer for consumers.
  • What are you calling a Pocket PC? I'll acknowledge that today's phones are about as pocketable a personal computer as we have ever seen. They don't however completely supplant those things most of us do a lot of work on, laptops, desktops, workstations, and such. A lot of that is just due to the ergonomics of the phone. Some of it is the capability of the phone processor/OS. Up to now, there hasn't been much reason to provide desktop ergonomics for phones, since they couldn't support what you wanted a keyboard, mouse and monitor for. That's changing, technically. The phone sized device is capable of running a large percentage of applications that it never could before, and is now only hampered by the IO options. If I could plug a pockatable device into that same dock I plug my Surface or XPS 13 into, with a single cable (USB-C with thunderbolt) to access a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, and run the same apps, do the same work, and that pocketable device is also my phone, why wouldn't I want that?
  • You wouldn't want that because it will be underpowered as a PC and you won't have apps when it is a phone. It will be a poor experience either way. It will not be able to rival a Surface Pro and an iPhone/Android.
  • So it's your opinion that whatever is popular today will popular forever. Might want to brush up on your history.
  • PCs were popular last decade. I don't think they will suddenly come back and I certainly don't think Microsoft is in a position to combine them with mobile. Unless they have something ground breaking, like the iPhone in 2007, they will not be successful. Plugging your phone into an external display and using a keyboard/mouse isn't groundbreaking.
  • Tell that to the 2.4 billion windows pc users last year.
  • So many PC users! Where are the developers? Ohh, that is right. Those are business machines that run niche software and don't drive developers or consumer adoption.
  • I also would prefer a Pocket Pc with telephone capabilities.  What do you mean when you say "look at the sales difference"? Specifically, what devices do you want to compare? I do not know of any currently available devices that can be considered to be a Pocket Pc with telephone capabilities​. You seem to be saying the that "mobile devices with mobile operating systems", that are commercially available for purchase, outsell nonexistent devices that are not available for purchase. (Pocket PC with telephone capabilities.) DUH!  There was a time when "everyone knew" that people won't buy horseless carriages because horses and street cars were fine. Everyone knew that "talkies" were a fad that would never replace silent movies. Currently mobile devices with mobile operating systems are functional for many people, The are also the only option available. People, the general public/consumers, want these devices because they perform functions that they want and value, not because they are mobile devices with mobile operating systems. To most people smart phones are "black boxes" that they purchase and get value from. It is entirely possible that a new class of devices will be popular and be perceived as better than current smart phones. It is also possible that it will be a failure. Success or failure will depend on the implementation and market, not on preconcieved notions of what will be popular.      
  • People want the next level of high tech. Most people I know don't use the full potential of their respective phones. All they care about is their social media, and being able to game and all that stuff that the rest of the world does. And the few of us out there truly want a pocket computing like @Richard Loverisge said it is the only logical thing to do.
  • dude we already had an era of "pocket pc".. its dead and I dont see a reason to go back in time because we have tablets from as small as 6inch till 13inches followed by much powerful laptops and ultrabooks . Maybe if big OEMs step in and create decent devices (decent means at least 8/10 stars from reviewers) but without them just the Surface phone alone on the market...... wont change anything and W10M will die and I think Microsoft killed W10M anyways so...  
  • great piece. I've been thinking the same thing. its sort of a reverse approach. making the PC mobile not the other way. It will be absolutely ridiculous to run a win32 app on a small screen of 6" or even 7". And unless we want to be awkwardly holding up 10" tablets to our ears like they do with some android tablets, it makes no sense. From the pushing of centennial by ms to the improvements in continuum and the adaptive shell, one can see the direction ms is taking with this. the new SD chipsets able to run full win10 will make it a lot easier for them too. I'm sure from the launch of the SD chipsets and the creators update, we won't have to wait very long for the first gen of the phone. i guess we have to wait and see what happens.
  • I'm not saying the Surface Phone is happening
    but now that I'm testing the 7" Cube W10 I'm using my BT headset.
    Also you seem to now about the Continuum adapting in future versions from big screen to small, too
  • 'Preciate the blog Jason, but is there such thing as a Surface phone? I've never read or heard MS actually say there is such a thing. Only bloggers.
  • Yes, all just a truck load of speculation at this point.
  • Correct. MS has said nothing whatsoever about it. It´s nothing but a rumor until we hear from them.
  • Guess that kind of was/is obvious.  Our existing W10M devices will continue to function well 
    but I guess over the lifetime of those devices
    we won't see too much that will truely exite us. Today's main feature of W10M is that it won't die
    and will receive a lot of security updates for a long time 
    that potenitally would turn Android users green with envy
    - if they ever would hear about it. W10M devices will continue to be nice devices, 
    the rest we don't know. Anything that Microsoft currently endeavours in the hidden 
    will take at least two years to come to practical fruition for us.  Currently available W10M devices are a stepping stone
    for corporations who need to tightly control their IT infrastructor
    until the day Microsoft introduces something new & "category defining".  .  
  • Microsoft's future is not Win32, this long dead technology from the 20th century that, like a zombie, seems to never go away even without blood circulating its veins. Microsoft did a lot of things lately to become irrelevant for consumers and they succeeded. They have a terrible ecosystem problem with loose knots everywhere. Furthermore, the Store is missing tons of key applications because developers don't even care about it. They made terrible key decisions in the last years and their marketing department is stale and almost useless. Furthermore, Microsoft also has this nasty tendency of letting their supporters down. Yes, it's a negative depiction of the company but it's also a sad objective truth. Microsoft missed the whole mobility decade because they did not perseverate when it was time to do so. Now, enough with this Surface phone. It doesn't exist, it's a chimera. And if they actually release it, it will be a miserable failure because that's not what consumers want and because their ecosystem is weak. Move over. Release your AR technology Microsoft before Apple or Google steal the thunder again...
  • Oh come on be honest with yourselves, can we just let it go.  Microsoft presence on mobile is putting their apps and services on iOS and Android platforms that's it.  They have said as much, but we have a vocal minority who has this crazy dream of a surface phone they just can't let go of. Microsoft marketshare on mobile is almost at zero, it will probable reach that in the next few quarters.  They have no developers, a surface is not magiclly going to solve their biggest issues.  Please let's forget about running legacy software on mobile, the users don't want it. It's a good thing I know Nadella is not focus of fighting yesterday's war like the folks on this forum is so keen of doing despite the obvious. Look what happened with BB, they finally abandonned the development of their BB os and outsource to a few Chinese oem's and went Android.  It took them awhile and it certainly costs them.  The iPhone was introduced 10 years ago last month, the mobile os battle have long been fought, both Apple and Google won the OS war.  Everyone else lost, it's time to move on to the next thing instead of trying to beat a dead horse a different way.
  • Jason is like the Aaron to the Microsoft Moses, who don't know how to communicate a strategy. Problem is, we've already lost faith, and the audience has dwindled to less than one person out of 100 who have already left the flock.
  • It isn't about communicating a strategy. It is about having a good strategy and implementing it properly. Microsoft doesn't seem to have either.
  • I'd like to add before Smartphones no one was looking for a Smartphone with apps either. No one is looking to move forward except techies in any era. But they do. When people see what it can do and how much better it is, they will change naturally. Just like they did to smartphones.
  • [...]push it deeper into the mobile space and successfully begin to overlap (even in part) the smartphone market[...]
      There is no "partial overlap" possible. All I can (and have to) do today with a "traditional" Smartphone, with a certain battery life, with a reasonably small and portable device, has to be possible with this new device. It will not have success if it gets too big, if certain functions are not available. My daughter said that the communication between her classmates is now going towards Snapchat, away from Whatsapp. Just as an example. No One, even if that thingie can run all W32 programs of this world, will need it if it doesn't have the important functions of a mobile device. Like train / bus ticketing, NFC payments, and whatnot. And that, unfortunately, means Apps. If this device will take another year or so, I fear even the most patient supporters will leave W10 Mobile, and with them the developers of the actual apps.
  • Initializing...
    Scanning article for instances of "retrenchment"............ 100% complete.
    ​No instances of the word "retrenchment" were found.
    This article is safe to read.

    ​Ad: Limited time only! Upgrade your scanner to include protection against "Smartphones are dead" and get 50% off!
  • I'm just waiting for the 950 to come down to $150 new. Speculating about Surface Phones has run its course.
  • Don't put your hope in a "Surface Phone" or something similar.  x86 emulation requires a SnapDragon 835 type of SoC.  The 835 is a 10 nanometer device, it's "bleeding" edge manufacturing technology. 
    Which means that (unexpected) problems may be ahead. 
      First and foremost I for one expect availabilty problems, 
    the 835 might very well be on allocation for the major part of 2017.  There will be any announcements of devices utilizing the 835, 
    and they all will have to share the limited supply
    (due to the yield of the new bleeding edge 10nm manufacturing technology).  Samsung themselves will get preferred access (if not near exclusive) to the first production lots. So even if Microsoft were to showcase a 835 device,
    we'll hardly will get our pawns on it. And it may be damn expensive.  
    Apple is working diligently to continue to raise the price point for a mobile device, 
    they are now said to crack the $1000 barrier easily.  Others will follow suit.  We might well see price points well beyond $1000, 
    targetting $1300 ($1299 that is) towards $1500, $1700, $1900.  The industry kind of is hitting some sort of saturation of the market.  If you can't sell ever more devices at a decent margin,
    you need to sell more expensive devices.  Let's how they will position those devices, 
    and how they will present those to use 
    to make us double our budget for mobile devices.       
  • Great point, i for one wont spend $$$ 700 to $975 dollars on a new phone every 2 years. the most i have spent is $288 on two new Win-10 mobile phones this year so Iam fine untill the Potential Surface Pocket PC Arrives in 2018.
  • Having w32 apps on a phone is great, if the phone also has all the mobile apps you want. That's the problem. People will still need an Andoird or iOS device for those apps. If you already have that in your pocket, what does this "Surface Phone" offer? Might as well get a laptop. ​Of course, if they can get developers to start bringing those apps over (and back) to the Windows unified platform, there is hope. To me, this gives developers another excuse to ignore the UWP and keep their old apps out there instead. We're becoming more and more a mobile world. That world just doesnt run on Windows. I cant see this changing that. I love the idea. I might even buy one, but I dont see many others doing the same.
  • Finally, an adult in the room thank you and completely agree.
  • This just in...   BREAKING NEWS: Microsoft announces partnership with Blueatacks to optimize Android apps for Surface Mobile screensize and resolution!   There ya go... Android apps on your new surface phone. Now if only this became a reality
  • If Surface Pocket runs full Windows 10. There's no need for MS to do anything. Programmers have already done it and i use it daily on Surface Pro 3.
  • How many times do you have to tell people something before they understand? There is some mental block or something going on here.
  • So you think emulating apps on Windows which is being emulated on ARM is going to be a good experience? You are going to carry around a gimped mobile devices just so you can have a gimped PC experience? That isn't going to be mainstream.
  • Different users with the same comment. Or is it just that you don't like the fact that programmers have made full Android work flawlessly on a full Windows 10 device. The beauty is the app argument doesn't exist for dull Windows 10 Tablets like Surface Pro or any other 2in1. You get all the benefits of Win32 and if you really NEED mobile apps you can get anything you want. If Surface Phone is Full Windows 10, then there is no argument that and Android phone can compete at all.
  • What benefits of Win32? That is only niche software these days. It isn't 2006. It isn't consumer software and won't drive sales to consumers. There isn't a single piece of Win32 software that is mainstream and doesn't have a mobile equivalent.
  • The only "benefit" of win32 is existing software already written. Because they targeted desktops, it can be more full-featured. Because they targeted desktop, they can be a pain in the ass to use on a touch device and not great on battery life. Its a nice thing to have on a Windows phone/tablet, but its not a game changer.
  • The hardcore windows people might bother with that as a workaround. The masses they need to reach arent going to do this. They just want to be able to setup the new gizmo they bought that requires an Android or iOS app.  
    ​Amiduos is cool, but its a hassle and the latest they have running now is lollipop.
  • Amiduos isn't just the Android runtime for apps, it's an entire Android OS running inside a virtual machine. Do you really think people are going to use a virtual machine running inside Windows 10 on ARM to get at the few apps they can just download and run natively on another phone?
  • Seems to me your scared of full Windows 10 on Mobiles? Qualcomm have fully backed Windows 10 on ARM. Full steam ahead making directx 12 work great as well. Remember CPUs will only improve. It took 3 years for Iphone to sell anything significantly. What's to say in 2020 Surface Pocket 2 or 3 isn't exceptionally powerful? From 2007-2009 smartphones weren't selling massively. That didn't happen till 2010. Stop thinking so small.
  • I'm not scared of anything, I just know a bad idea when I see one. 
  • Man, how hard it is to care on speculation. Yeah, a plan is nice, but it's only as nice as the support behind it. W10M was a great plan, and when it was revealed Microsoft had no real desire to support it long-term, that plan ended up being massive disappointment, another OS reboot, and a huge delay in hardware. What's the plan matter if it's repeatedly delayed, with no proof that the plan ever turns into a product? Nothing changes with this strategy, really. It still ends up being 100% a question of third-party support, primarily for software. Is Centennial really good enough to grab a decade-old Win32 app and make it run on a phone, if the developer doesn't want to implement APIs? How functional is something like OpenOffice goign to be on mobile, if you don't want to pay for the absurdly expensive offering from Microsoft? How well will full PhotoShop run on a phone, and how will the supposed shell handle it if Adobe opts to do nothing to massage the application for it? How about games, especially legacy ones and Steam? How well will Google Chrome adapt to this environment when Google has previously made deliberate efforts to make its presence on a Microsoft-run mobile OS difficult for consumers and Microsoft to endure? Of course, there might be some degree of an answer to this, if Microsoft had made good on the bridge promises it made us 2 years ago, only to scrap Astoria, gain no traction with Islandwood, and shove the whole of W10M under a bus to work on W10A, meaning Centennial's reality never came to fruition on Mobile either.
  • Sorry but this notion that people are secretly pining for W32 apps on a portable device is ludicrous. At the end of the day they are still the same apps, most of which have not seen meaningful updates in years that consumers have moved away from on their mobile devices. There just is no demand for such applications. And since there is still no sign of the mobile apps people actually use being available on this magical surface mobile what is the attraction over a 2 in 1 which gives you the same access to those W32 apps?
  • Exactly, Jason keeps spouting this same nonsense of an ultra mobile PC without explaining how it would be superior to just having an Android phone and Surface Pro to run your Win 32 apps. The Surface Pro will have the added advantage of not needing to find a Monitor and a Keyboard. This Mythical Surface Phone is solution that is still looking for a problem.
  • I agree, but you know why articles like this keeps poping up every other month.  Those folks needs to feed their family too.
  • Or an Android phone + any of the other W10 hybrids out there. It would be great to have a load of w32 apps that worked well as UWP, but there's a reason why UWP constrains the functionality of what you had with w32 have to simplify the interface controls to work with touch on a smaller screen and that means you also have to reduce the options. When you get below 6inch screens you have to simplify further, a problem addressed a few years ago by ... apps.Thing is if you have very limited computing needs your phone probably gives you all you need already (and you don't even need an expensive phone to cast netflix or any other larger screen services onto that thing you probably already have at home... a TV). If you have more demanding needs you're going to want at least 10 inches of screen estate (and probably a bit more). In theory a really powerful pocket PC + Continuum would give you that and mobility too, but it's a solution to a non-existent problem. I believe MSFT will continue to dominate computing on screens larger than 9 inches. If they improve the UWP situation they'll do well down to 6-7 inches, and these devices may have neat folding tricks and cellular radios... but these things will barely touch the demand for smartphones, which offer a different kind of mass market functionality,and where MSFT has already more or less admitted defeat - something which gives me no pleasure but it's true. 
  • The beauty of Full Windows 10 is it can do anything. Very different from Windows 10 mobile. I can run any Android app on my Surface Pro. If Surface Pocket runs full Windows 10 there is no way Android can compete. Check this link out. That os exactly what a full OS can do.
  • So, Richard, Do all android apps run just as they would on an android phone? like Bluetooth, NFC etc all work?
  • Yep yep and yep. The NFC requires that function from the hardware. So my Surface Pro 3 doesn't do this. Bit as long as the Surface Pocket PC has the hardware it will work. My kids play Pokémon GO on a Surface Pro 3. At higher resolution and better framerate. It picks up the camera straight away no problem on the back of the Pro 3. Remember Full OS isn't as limited as a Mobile OS. So developers can access anything they need to make it work. And It works amazing.
  • Ok, then I may get a new "surface phone" if its what they say it I am running duOS now ....very interesting.
  • You can try it out on any full Windows 10 device now if you have any. I mean a Surface Pro is probably the best to trial it as it has alot in common with phones. As in rear and front facing cameras, Bluetooth, WiFi etc. You can even create shortcuts to the android apps right there on the desktop. But if a Surface phone is not running full Windows 10 on arm then MS have screwed up in my opinion. It has to have full Windows 10. Then developers and programmers could really change how we see a Pocket device. It's so easy to get Android apps running beautifully on a full Windows 10 device. But imagine all the other possibilites. Steam games, emulators and the like all on your full Windows 10 pocket Surface. It's the only way I see MS moving forward in the mobile space. Just another Mobile OS won't cut it.
  • Wow, by Joe I think he's got it!
  • so it's better than bluestacks or something?  guess I'll give it a shot on my little surface 3  
  • it is pretty cool. I have it on my dell 13" 2 in 1. I am going to undock soon and try touchscreen...
  • It's amazing. Even all the full finger gestures work.
  • It is. on my dell, everything works great. I can access my full android library now. WOW! The only thing not working 100% is rotation. that could have been my fault as well. Do you know if as you add more ram to your system you can access more with duOS?
  • Hmmm. Not sure. Gyro and GPS all works. So you can even use Googles map apps as well. So ultimately if MS actually bring Full Windows 10 to a Surface Phone, there really is no limit as to what's achieveable in my opinion. But only if its full Windows 10. Here's hoping.
  • I use off road mapping. Streets are just a means to get to our adventures. I have my off road mapping on my dell now. AWESOME. Now, to add the rest of the apps. Hopfully I can "expand" memory in the "tablet" as well. 16gb is a bit tight. Next up, a mount for my dell in my vehicles. In my suburban, no big deal, I think I can fit a 23" monitor between the seats, but in the patriot its a bit tighter..
  • Yea hate to say it, it needs to be more than hey look, full windows in your pocket.  I don't feel that's category defining enough cause all you've done is shrunk laptops/tablets down even further. I just hope they are smarter than what we've been able to foresee and come up with an idea wowed us like the surface studio & dial thingy.  It's needs to be fluid and natural, just like how that Surface Dial looks to be.    
  • After buying the alcatel i can see my self using continuum at work and at home alot more. I have a microft display adapter i use and it works well. My problem tho is I see no work or advancement being done on continuum atm. To me it seems if this is the direction, more work would be being done to refine or make more apps or features avaiable. Some times it just seems a half arse version on miracast and nothing more. You can drop out of continuum and just cast screen and theres really not a big diffence.
  • Wrong!
    The difference is HUUUUUGE!
  • Using an old lumia 625 decided to hangon for max 2 years,feeling like on the edge of a cliff. I might not find well built unique design lovely camera windows phone, but it seems i won't find any other windows phone! In india the lumia 950s are out of stock, there are some x40 or 650 but that's it no other OEM and now microsoft says it withdrawing its supportand concentrating in selected markets. What's your say Jason?
  • Using win32 apps on 8" tablet is terrible on 5" is horor. Android 7.0 now have support for mult window, in the future no one will use MS devices! They need to lunch surface phone this year.
  • What if a future OS version supports bacwards Continuum: from big to small screen?
  • JFC...trying to decipher your gibberish is "horor" enough.
  • Microsoft has lost the mobile market and will not get it back with a "mobile PC" (which is what a smartphone already is).  What I really need is an article that shows how to go from W10M to Android/IOS (how to migrate data, do common tasks, etc).
  • Paul Thrurott has some great articals on doing just that, hope you find what you are looking for.
  • A smart phone is not a mobile PC. It just a phone. When it can run full fledge PC apps and do PC only things, then it can be called a PC. You need to learn the difference.
  • A smartphone is a PC the vast majority of tasks. Only in a professional setting does a phone fail as a PC. A PC is now a niche device for professionals. It will not be long before Microsoft is out of the consumer market completely.
  • Always fun when trolling goes where it's not working!
    Keep it up!
  • Only way to survive is android and apple apps on A MS phone
  • If Surface pocket is running full Windows 10 the world is the limit.
  • You would be able to run Android apps on a pocket PC, using Bluestacks or whatever.
  • Apple will be on their way out. You can only run Apple apps on Apple devices. Google and Android is different.
  • Jason, I stopped reading after the first two paragraphs. Maybe there's more (and better) info further in, but when your argument starts with saying that the "nobody wants Win32" apps on their phone is irrelevant, because "it's not a phone, it's a PC", you've lost me. It's not about the category or the intended function, it's about the form factor and the ability to mesh with existing workflows (and whatever the personal life equivalent of a workflow is). The sooner that you and the Windows Central team (and likely, Microsoft) realize this, the sooner we can once again be proud of a true ecosystem of Microsoft products. The pie-in-the-sky dreams are nice, but we've been burned way too many times with some bad pies, or pies that never neem to come down to ground level (i.e., execution)    
  • I'd also like to point out that if Surface pocket runs Full Windows 10, then its pure win. Right now I can run any Android app on my Surface Pro 3. How? It's a full OS people. See this link.
  • That's a virtual machine running a full Android installation. No consumer is going to run a virtual machine inside of Windows 10 on ARM when they could just buy an Android phone and download the apps they need without the headache. 
  • Clearly thinking to small. You think hardware stays stagnant?
  • A Microsoft-branded Surface phone is not a thing anymore. It's been scrapped. Microsoft's "Surface Phone" is the iPhone. This is why they put all of their best apps on that platform. I can't tell if Jason W really believes this stuff or just needs to pump out an article every so often. Windows on mobile is dead. Unfortunately, that's the reality of it.
  • Your right. It won't be a phone. If it is ill be so annoyed. It's going to be a pocket pc. With full Windows 10 that can do this.
  • What shall I say, we can all dream. Ms its track record does not give me any confidence they can pull off any hw that can also be used as a phone. My phone is unstable as hell since the last production update. They treat their loyal customers like crap and then expect them to buy the next big thing? And they will very likely pull the plug on it a year after release?
  • I really wish you are right Jason ,,,about Microsoft releasing there surface phone
    Because from what I see it nothing coming ,,,
    I don't care what the OS will be as long as it will run windows or windows mobile with sell to be suitable for mobile form factor... But I think Microsoft will stop there lose in mobile and it's time for them to give up mobile ,,, I wish I am wrong I love windows mobile I had Lumia 950xl still using it as my daily driver but not sure when iphone 8 release this would be my situation ,,,
  • I just wish they will add more shortcuts in the uwp apps like those classic win32 ones.
    ctrl-tab to switch between tabs, esc to quit, and alt-whatever to select whatever buttons in the window / dialog.
  • What I said in the past, android will do a continuum like option that because it will be faster functional than microsoft, it will win the fight, and microsoft will finally loose the battle. The only way to microsoft try to win the battle is bring out a fully functional continuum in the next months win32 support, not because its necessary, but because it will do marketing. People might start try that out and programmers will start to push some more apps. But this won't happen, and android will eat microsoft. Only matter of time and further mistakes of micosoft
  • The Galaxy S8 or perhaps even the next Note will have the Android version of Continuum. It's not far away at all then the last remaining USP for Windows Mobile will be gone too with it
  • It's not Continuum
  • ?
  • Many people are quick to put MS mobile in the grave. With the changing strategies, frequent missteps, horrible marketing etc. its east to see why. I have had my share of ups and downs with this company. So many potentially great ideas killed and others dying the slow death of mismanagement, neglect and abuse. Microsoft has not inspired confidence in developers or consumers in regards to a mobile platform in many years and is paying the price. This is why they are seemingly retreating from this market to advance a new one. No one can say if this new strategy will succeed but I think it has a much better chance than trying to break into the existing market. To say "no one will want" because they are happy with what they have now is silly. After living through the 1980s and seeing what passed for "must have" items, then to see theses fads morph into multibillion dollar industries nothing would surprise me. It seems to me that a small device that could act as a phone and home computer at a reasonable price would be accepted by the market and would have the potential to thrive. Only time will tell but I for one am watching and reading with great interest. Keep up the great work Jason, Thank you for your perspective.
  • I find the idea of a Surface Mini or Surface Pocket or Surface Pocket Book, or whatever, *conceptually* interesting. Is it a good idea to allow for Win32 applications? What about Continuum? I'd like to be able to run Win32 applications on such a machine. Still, I doubt many applications will be useful when run on a small screen.
    -- the idea that I can have the documents with me, and use this Surface at home and at work with instant access to files... requires good storage capacity and relatively good battery capacity. Of course, as long as OneDrive syncing works, OneDrive also allows for this possibility of having files available everywhere
    -- if the solution is to lug along a "Lap Dock" type thing to get decent display size, I don't really see the advantage since a "Lap Dock" typically is just as big as a laptop
    -- if this Surface thing has an expandable display which can be "folded out" to, say an 8inch "tablet size", then it *may* be possible to run some Win32 apps on the screen. The larger, the better, but the thing must also be relatively compact. At the same time, a screen based keyboard kind of ruins the possibility to get a big display of the app. Would I buy it? Perhaps. But it must be solid. (I dropped by Lumia 950 on the floor, it landed on one corner, and the screen cracked. Perhaps I should have used some protective cover, but I didn't...)
  • Continuum will evolve.
    The UI will mutate and adapt.
  • Great article Jason. The Surface mobile variant has to be very exceptional as a phone to cut it. In fact under mobile shell, one has to forget that they are carrying a PC in the palm of their hands. The advantage here is that when Microsoft develops windows as a service moving forward, the mobile variant won't feel like it is ignored since well they will be developing one operating system.
  • I just wish MS would do what they should have done in the first place: Be Microsoft!
    MS has always been the business-frist company who also made OK home products. Because businesses embraced them, people became familiar with the design language, and when it came to buying their home tech they simply went with what was comfortable. Being sidetracked by Apple's mass-market appeal has set them back several years now. If they were to release an 'x86' capable phone that can run all of the business apps, and then made everything else 'ok' then businesses would push for them to get initial market share. As people are forced onto windows phones then they will clamor for the apps to follow. And when you have more than a few hundred die-hard WP fans (myself included) asking for things, then they will get them.
    MS needs to stop playing at Apple's game, and get back to their business roots, and have a board that allows some follow-through.
  • Great Article, Jason. Well to say honestly, some fans would move on when the Ultramobile Surface launches, mostly cause of its enterprise features and cost. The need should match between the consumers and the device's capabilities. I'm perfectly sure that it will be one heck of a design. Let's just say the app gap is solved for the ones who deem it necessary, Ultramobile Surface must win in the OS segment,CShell should make it revolutionary as the overall device itself, it's a matter of striking it right to make it sync.
    Portability is here to stay no matter what, ppl are ultra comfortable with having a pocket-able device around with them, otherwise the same device turning itself into a full blown PC would help when it's necessary. It'll be the perfect start for the mobile computing and the OEMs would follow suite.
  • I truly believe the next step in mobile telephony is pocket computing. Mobile OS have hit their peak, there's nothing more to do with them, the more we add and try to improve upon them the more we are just going to clutter and make it obsolete faster. The next level is pocket PCs, and MS is leading the way. Apple and Android will just have to follow suit, even if they don't want to.
  • This is the salient comment of the article: "What if Microsoft had a strong UWP app catalog comparable to that of Apple's and Google's app stores" If they did, they wouldn't be doing as poorly in Mobile as they are, and until they do nothing else will change their results.  Continuum isn't a game changer for the non-business user but being able to use their Home Security Monitoring app or play Clash of Clans is.  A Surface Phone and Continuum might replace a tablet or low-end laptop, but won't make a dent in telephony-centric users' decision making process.
  • im actually excited.  These people pessimistic are the slow adapters who are still using bag phones from the early 90s.
  • Makes sense.  I'm still hoping microsoft finds a way to use hololens tek. to create a laptop sized holographic screen and keyboard.
  • 3D display on any device category would do it.
  • I will agree that he Surface Phone has to be more than a "phone", however there is still a smartphone market that does exist, and MSFT should be capitalizing on it. Much like the Surface Pro, Book and now the Studio, these are all "more than devices", but MSFT continue to fully support the current devices. they compete against, ie. 2 in 1's, laptops and desktops. IMO, I believe MSFT should rethink their retrenchment strategy, masses of people still want smartphones, especially while we wait for the "more than a phone" Surface Phone. I honestly believe that MSFT could re-establish and maintain a 6-10% market share if they reversed their decision on making Lumias. And they could do it with four models covering all price points. They would include a budget friendly L570, a business model L670, a mid range consumer model L870 and a high end L970. MSFT needs to do something quickly, that is if they truly want to remain in the mobile game, because by the time the Surface Phone launches, market share for W10 on mobile will be where Blackberry is now. MSFT needs more than a high priced niche device to capture a significant percentage of mobile users.
  • I'm on board...but they need to provide me with a Laptop shell much like the one HP has....but for far less than $600. The absurdity of this price point is beyond belief....I can buy name-brand 2-in-1 devices with processors and RAM installed in them for $200.
  • The idea of a portable PC with a special CShell-mobile UI, foldable screen and DUALBOOT with Android ​is very promising and defining an entirely different business-private communication device
  • Agreed, after running DuOS for a bit. it's really good! too bad they never got newer versions of android up on it.
  • If Microsoft does release a Surface Phone (or whatever it is to be called), the company really needs to reconsider the current practice of not submitting devices for CDMA certification. The lack of Windows Mobile devices for customers of Verizon Wireless, Sprint and US Cellular is disheartening. Also, keeping devices irrelevant to so many potential users, almost assures that they will not sell as well as they could if they were made available on all carriers.
  • If there really were potential users, Microsoft would have pursued CDMA devices and Verizon would have cooperated. There isn't.
  • Verizon Wireless isn't the only CDMA carrier in the US. There are three major players and their resellers. The issue boils down to cost and the future of CDMA. CDMA certification costs more than GSM. CDMA is a fading technology as Verizon Wireless is undertaking a network upgrade to hopefully be completed in 2019. Until then, Windows Mobile suppliers are loathe to shoulder the added expense, thus any increase in sales are being lost due to a very restrictive position on the part of Windows Mobile devices. If the Surface Phone is released as a GSM only device, Microsoft can expect more of the same in the way of sales, even to commercial accounts.
  • Great read, a phone that isn't a phone but is a phone but really isn't it's a super mobile work device, the bulk of smart phone users only use social apps not work apps, unless MS think making an Enterprise device is success. A perfect windows phone ecosystem for every kind of user would attract app developers no doubt, but making one is the trillion dollar question as Apple and Android have already achieved in most parts. Still like my 950XL, used to use iphone, never used an android device, but find myself looking at cheap options so i can at least experience the android experience while I wait for the mother of all not a phone device.
  • I'm expecting a westworld style tablet device. I will not accept anything less after waiting 5 years(since L1520, I'm expecting it to come in 2018) for a decent phone from Microsoft. /halfjoking
  • 3x things must exist for all of this to happen. Display, Mouse & Keyboard & adapter / dock (wireless or not), everywhere. Meaning if in any event, if I was to travel and stay at a hotel, can the hotel provide a host-less setup but just provide the 3x above. If I was on-location doing business at a client site , and of course home for anyone with such a device and or supported device. All of this and more meaning work anywhere. For business usage primarily since the days of carrying that 6-7 or even 8 pound laptop, is all where is started, but today even for some execs and upper management will still agree, I hate carrying my laptop, if I can do my work via my phone that has the capabilities of running my company apps with remote access, I'm in. Me personally, When I need a powerhouse machine, I am not using a laptop, Yes I have my Surface, but that too can not replace a Xeon CPU at any level with A SLI / Cuda setup...Hence Cloud Computing / Clustered Distributed Server Side Apps. Mobile first, Cloud first vision. So if it was capable of running x86 apps, yes I have access to all 16+ million apps and more.
  • How's about all of us make a Win10M phone! :P Then it starts a new sector / category for @Windows Central & it's almost to all of our likings! 😱, whos in? #OpenHWInt not just the #DC
  • I was WP fan and owner since 7.5, unfortunately I had to let it go last year  due to the app gap, absurd from me? I dont think so... I kept waiting for that "boom" phone and never arrived... I feel sorry for MS in their mobile division... happy iphone 7 owner now
  • It looks like a duck and walks like a duck and even quacks like a duck, but it ain't a duck!
  • Too bad VMWARE dropped virtual Switch for phones back then, I was ready to use Android and WP and or all 3x ... that would have been something to make my eyes wide open.
  • So after "mobile first" we ll have "evolve or die"...Not promising at all...
  • That was the same statement as adapt or die, navigate the axis.
  • Of it could run win 64bit apps and be dual sim full active I would buy it. I hope amd and release new ultramobile cpu and make that 64bit phones a reality.
  • This sounds crazy, but I think Microsoft should save costs on the middle range version of Surface Phone and sacrifice expensive hardware like good camera, metal body, AMOLED screen, wireless charging, water resistant and build Surface Phone variant with Snapdragon 625 CPU with 2GB of RAM, IPS screen, 5Megapixel camera, 32GB storage, microSD card sell this for $500, but with that price include the monitor, mouse + keyboard dock and this could be the next big revolution of PC in emerging markets like China, Brazil, Russia and Mexico
  • ~2025 the actual ring phone will be out, not talking about the surfs up or cool hand gesture, the actual call me hand gesture but really your phone...kidding, or am I....nah kidding...
  • Not for everyone though
  • I think we should dispel the word "phone" from this Surface device. Probably should consider calling it a "Surface Mobile Device" with phone capabilities.
  • Surface Courier?  Surface Pad?  Surface PhonePad?  Surface PadPhone?  Surface Phone+?  Surface NotePad?  Surface NotePhone?  Surface Personal?  Personal Surface?  Surface Service? . . . . . . . . ???
  • While Centennial is great, it isn’t the solution to the app gap on pocket-sized devices. Windows CE already had Win32 compatibility, not 100% compatible with the full version found on NT, but close enough to be able to write portable code if you were careful. I had cross-compiled code between desktops running NT and Handheld PC, Palm-size PC, Pocket PC, WinCE-powered Smartphone (non-touch-screen ones), and Windows CE embedded devices. The thing is, while the logic was very portable, the UI wasn’t, and that was the case even though Windows CE provided a GDI mostly compatible with the desktop.
    The Handheld PC could run apps very similar to desktop PCs thanks to its larger screen, but when you started to hit the 6” displays, even if you could run the same UI code, you had to rethink it if you wanted it to actually be usable. Running on the Smartphone with tiny sub-3” screen and softkeys required yet another UI and ergonomics redesign. My PHM RegEdit had 4 completely different UI layers to accommodate for Palm-size PC, Handheld PC, Pocket PC and Smartphone. Microsoft have been working over a decade to build a UI framework that could finally scale to these smaller screens and mixed input methods (mouse, pen, touch). I know Centennial lets us rewrite part of the app and keep Win32 pieces, but honestly, while great to publish Win32 apps to the Store, even Microsoft themselves present it as a stepping stone to go full UWP as the ultimate goal and requirement if you target anything else than PCs. Win32 and x86 compatibility will be great for Continuum on larger screen, but will absolutely not help with the UI problem on pocket-sized devices or even devices with other input methods such as holographic. Most app won’t even be really usable on a Courier-sized device because they are simply designed with larger screens in mind. Replacing the smartphone by a wireless earpiece paired with a smaller tablet might be an ok solution to bring the PC to replace some phones, but running desktop apps on a display that fits in your pocket is just a dream. And this is coming from someone who worked for around 10 years on various Windows CE devices and has a Centennial app in the Store. If you want to sell a pocket-sized device to consumers, it has to work great when used as a pocket-sized device first. Everything else, including Continuum, is secondary.
  • I already have a Windows phone...the 950xl and a dock for it and find it a quality piece of hardware...full windows 10, would not be too bad...I would fully be in...I like change if it's cool and this could be something to shake up the market a bit.  It would be nice for Microsoft to be innovative instead of the next white elephant to fall. cheers, SEADRIVE
  • MS should allow win32 centennial bridge developers to create what's called a "mobile interface" for their bridged apps. These interfaces will only allow you to use the apps simplest features hiding al the complexity of a typical win32 app. When the screen size changes the UI can morph back to a more complex one with al feature enabled. For example. If I'm using newsleecher on my mobile I probably only want to connect to the server, search, start a download, filter and some easy stuff. Photoshop could be more like picsart or Pollar while in mobile mode, hidding all the complexity. The UI elements would run the code for those specific tasks only. Right now the challenge for a UWP app for something like photoshop is insane. Getting all those features into a tiny screen is just not possible. MS needs to separate the complexity from the mobile experience.
  • But wait a minute. What happened to the whole "App Bridges" thing? Wasn't it supposed to "cure" the emptyness of the app store? Where is it?
  • Probably will be the final demise of the traditional laptop (non-touch screen). It will be the next step in mobile. And for sure a dummy touch screen laptop (screen, touchpad and battery only) will be perfected by then and be used in conjunction of the phone. If i have a phone that can run full Windows with me and is Continuum capable, why would i buy a laptop for computing? 
  • Yeah more than a phone, a handkerchief for sneezing out... Ha ha ha... This comment is just for fun...
  • Great read - but i only have one question: When?
  • Another mirage... Keep reaching for another one in which ms may change plans... Like with Nokia, ms-band and HoloLens, to name a few...
  • I say, bring it! Smartphones don't generally work that well yet. They are locked into a very narrow vision that does not work well with the other devices in our system. SO you get a text with a message that would be better as an email, if arrived into an environment that was not locked to the mobile device then a lot of hassles would go away. That's just a basic and obvious place to start, a fluid environment that spaned across all devices is a much better idea that our current.. 'phone is not a computer' model...
    BRING IT :)
  • LOL you still don't get it! and fanboys either! It does not matter what it will be called! a 5-6" device that has phone capabilities will be useless without proper MOBILE APPS!!!! get it?? MOBILE APPS NOT Win32!! I could give a damn about continuum and running win32 apps with it, I have a decent 2in1 for that! I don't need an underpowered phone like device to run a win32 app! a Phone Like device needs mobile apps, on the go use!
    With fans like you, sorry, but I do not wonder anymore why MS failed so miserably...
    UWP FAILED! Devs do not give a damn fck about it, as you can clearly see...or don't...
    LOL Even Ms doesn't give a damn about their own grand master UWP platform.
    And over all this, let's not forget MS burned users trust several times with their create-abandon technique!
    I have to be a complete idiot to ever trust my money and time in barely anything MS creates. Besides Xbox, which is great and surface pros which are nice devices, everything else has become crap! Starting with that mediocre Windows 10 OS.
  • Come on, tell us how you really feel.
  • Put windows holographic on it;")
  • Soon or later, things will change.
  • The game changer is for Microsoft is getting it's AI(Cortana,etc.) development to the point of it being able to factor out huge numbers of apps...
  • There is a development from Microsoft that I haven't seen anyone pick up on yet, and it's just a theory perhaps. In Windows 10, they did some very clever work to allow a process to contain no Windows specific things at all, and that enables them to emulate the Linux kernel and run a real Linux distribution on top.  It's much lighter weight than virtualisation, actually is a new thing that has not existed anywhere before (i.e. Linux can't do this) and we've only just seen the start of it so far, they have made big strides forward with the Creators Update and won't be stopping there. So the new idea?  What is Android underneath?  That's right, a Linux distribution. So, Imagine Windows, On ARM or Intel, which can run Win32 apps, UWP apps, Linux apps, and Android apps.  All side by side, efficiently, from your pocket to your desktop, and devices like Surface that can do both.  Wouldn't that be a truly killer product?
  • As usal a great article. But its all in imagination till now.
  • Personally, I think the article and the discussion miss the point of what MS is actually doing, and how that positions them going forward (though the discussion much more so) What MS is doing in mobile is a delaying tactic until they can reach a point of true disruption to the mobile market. Everything they're doing on the engineering side centers around decoupling Windows from device form factors; UWP and the way they're building out both their dominance in Azure for the cloud backend and the modularity of the Windows OS itself, is about making sure that they're not tied to any one device form factor and can quickly and easily adopt any new technology. If anyone thinks we're still going to be relying on small rectangular touch screens in our pockets in 10 years, they're not paying attention. None of the existing app ecosystems mean a damn thing in the face of new computing paradigms. At the same time, MS doesn't have any real shot at a significant consumer mobile presence until the game changes. Thing is, given their positioning, they don't need to care about that. They're getting their services out there, they're maintaining and growing core parts of their business, are getting positive mindshare from their hardware innovations, and are powering a lot of the backend necessary for mobile experiences, that all keeps them relevant and hugely profitable. On the consumer front they just need to prepare for what comes next, and that's what they've been doing. Honestly, it's almost better to think of a Surface ultramobile PC that can also work as a phone as a stepping stone to a future where the form factor you're operating in is related to the task you're pursing not the device you're using. That won't fully pay off until we have cheap mass market HoloLens like devices with full day battery life and unobtrusive form factors, but it's where everything they're working on is headed.
  • with a holographic display that projects from the phone and a keyboard/trackpad projector you could have a full pc experience in a small form factor
  • Microsoft might be onto something here. When I visit a doctor they roll in a laptop on a cart. It might be easier (easier to misplace also maybe) a pocket size device. I am always for progress though not for just the sake of progress. We are rapidly growing more mobile by the day. If I was in certain professions and I had to lug around a laptop. I would definitely go with a device that folded out to become a 7-8" tablet. More and more professions are becoming mobile. Enterprise along with consumers could really use a a small powerful device. Let the naysayers say nay! They've been talking negative since the beginning of time. If Microsoft doesn't succeed, I can about guarantee that some other company will. We really don't know what MS or for that matter any company has planned but, I will bet that be it MS, Google, Apple or some unknown company. Somebody will break through the mobile PC wall. One more edit. As usual well thought out and written Jason Ward...
  • I would love to own a Pocket Surface!
  • We went crazy for the better part of a year trying to agree on what the device that became the Surface book was going to look like.  Almost no one expected the design and it has been extremely successful.  We still have to see about the Studio in long term success but again, not a device anyone foresaw, but was marvelled at nonetheless. So the micro Surface, or Surface "phone" or Phonelet, however you might see it, is likely to be a reasonable wow that will likely give us some of what we expect and yet do it in a way no one saw coming.  There won't be leaks, just "bam" and here you go.  So it's natural to speculate but just reserve enough in your mind to realize that something is coming and major aspects of it are likely to be things that have not been done before.  Perhaps we all argue so much because of that urgency we feel for wanting it "now" :)
  • I really wish people would stop deluding themselves about a "Surface" phone. 
  • I think this device is the next evolution of the smartphone in general sought to speak because Android phones will be basically using the same chips so Microsoft being more advance from an OS standpoint will be able to run those Win32 apps which should take off in the business environments but not so much in the consumer side because of those apps unless unless Microsoft bots and Cortana can convince consumers that this is better and more efficient than having a ship load of apps that presently give Android it's strong standing in the consumer sector.
  • I think the next big thing in mobile devices will be the Smartphone/Tablet PC hybrid device and so far folks microsoft is ahead of anyone building such a device. the Redstone 2 and 3 upgrade to Windows 10 mobile smart phone this year will enable the right designed windows 10 mobile smart phone to have a "Continuum "screen that works so much like a Desktop computer with multitasking, sizeable apps on the screen and ect that you will swear you are working with a PC. Now that Microsoft X86 Emulation software can enable ARMS CPU's used on smartphones to run full X86 Desktop PC programs Windows 10 mobile smartphones can really be POCKET PC'S putting them in a class all by themselves. with the new Amoled foldable screens we can have a mini tablet PC / Smartphone that folds up so you can put in your pocket 
  • Great article Jason!  If you look at the cost of an Enterprise laptop, say a Dell Latitude 7450 at $1800-1900 devices like the Elite x3 can be a real value with Windows on ARM.  Replacing mobile kiosks in hospitals, retail, and laptops in the enterprise is now a reality.  Sales & Marketing Reps, Executive and Administration, Retail and Consumer reps why not? The small cheap tablet prospects are really as exciting as a phone considering VDI.  Retail, Engineers, and Hospital workers can take advantage of high end graphics without paying high end prices such as a Surface book.   MS is wise to not focus on consumer but on Enterprise.  ARM also lowers the cost to make it attractive to Education and compete with the Chromebook. 
  • Great article Jason!  If you look at the cost of an Enterprise laptop, say a Dell Latitude 7450 at $1800-1900 devices like the Elite x3 can be a real value with Windows on ARM.  Replacing mobile kiosks in hospitals, retail, and laptops in the enterprise is now a reality.  Sales & Marketing Reps, Executive and Administration, Retail and Consumer reps why not? The small cheap tablet prospects are really as exciting as a phone considering VDI.  Retail, Engineers, and Hospital workers can take advantage of high end graphics without paying high end prices such as a Surface book.   MS is wise to not focus on consumer but on Enterprise.  ARM also lowers the cost to make it attractive to Education and compete with the Chromebook. 
  • One failure in the Windows phone situation so far is they only support slightly under 1/2 of the phone market. The CDMA and TDMA cellular operations are different, yet Windows only supports TDMA; thus ignoring the ones that provide the widest nationwide coverage. The two primary TDMA providers footprints are narrowly  aroune the metro ragions and along freeways or larger populated areas on main national highways. Their coverage near the northern and southern edges of the nation is confined to large population comunitiess. As a rsult the services that cover almost everywhere are ignored by Mickeysoft. They forced us into Windows 10 then cut off the ability link our phones and PC together by forcing us to buy andorid or iphone products as phones. One point of consideration, The next PC purchase may be something that works with the phones we have available.
  • I figured it out. This is "andromeda", the pictured device. They are actually making this. A detachable clamshell ff is already in the windows code (two gyro variables and a hinge angle variable for "andromeda".