Microsoft's next version of Continuum is what it should have been from the start

CShell is Microsoft's upcoming Windows Shell for Windows 10 that brings the same experiences across devices. It enhances the Windows phone "Continuum" mode too, here are some of the new experiences and enhancements you can expect to see when CShell is ready.

It's pretty clear at this point that tech companies are looking to turn your phone into the only device you need for work and play, whether you're on the go or at home at a desk. Samsung is doing it with their Galaxy S8 and DeX, and Microsoft tried it with the Lumia 950 with Windows 10 Mobile. Admittedly, Microsoft's attempt at Continuum was pretty poor, with a lack of a windowed-mode being a big problem.

Along with CShell, Microsoft is giving Continuum another go, and this time they're pushing it further than before. No longer is Continuum a "limited" version of the Windows desktop. Now, it's an experience that's almost identical to the Windows desktop that you know and love on a normal PC or laptop, except with Continuum it's powered by your phone.

We've been using an early pre-release version of CShell on an HP Elite x3, which is rocking a Snapdragon 820 and 4GB RAM. Now, we want to stress that although we're using an Elite x3 here, that's no indication that it will be coming to that device officially when CShell is ready — we simply don't know what devices Microsoft is planning to release CShell for.

The Experience

Extending into Continuum on a device running CShell immediately takes you to a desktop environment that will immediately feel familiar. No longer is the phone status bar at the top of the screen, but rather it's down in the bottom right where the taskbar system tray is, just like on a desktop. The system tray includes your Action Center, battery icon, cellular connection, WiFi, Bluetooth and anything else that shows up in the phone status bar.

On the bottom right, you have your familiar Start menu, Cortana and Task View buttons, again much like where you'd expect them to be. Hitting the Start button takes you to your phones Start screen, which now features additional live tile sizes and context menus, as well as the ability to turn live tiles on and off for individual apps. This is a big shift from the current Continuum experience, which doesn't use context menus in Continuum.

The taskbar itself can now be dragged to any edge of the display, just like on desktop. That means if you prefer your taskbar at the top of the screen, you can put it up there — same for the left or right sides. It's another nice addition that I'm sure many users will appreciate. I personally prefer keeping the taskbar at the bottom of the display.

Launching an app in Continuum with CShell will open it in a window, which can be manipulated just like a normal window on a desktop or laptop. It can be moved around, resized, maximized, minimized and snapped to either side of the display. Double clicking the titlebar will maximize/minimize the window too, and all the keyboard shortcuts for window management work too.

This is one of the biggest changes to Continuum with CShell. Allowing apps to run in a window changes the entire way you use a device. On the current version of Continuum, being confined to one app at a time on screen is really limiting if you're trying to be productive. CShell Continuum removes that limitation, allowing you to use Continuum just like you're using a normal desktop or laptop to get work done.

Fluent Design apps also work just like you'd expect them to in Continuum. Microsoft is also working on a number of Fluent Design features for CShell itself, but a lot of that work isn't ready at this time — this is a very pre-release build.

It's still a phone

Now, considering this is a phone, the type of work you're going to be doing won't be the same as the work you'd probably be wanting to do on a desktop. Continuum is still for doing light work on the go, at least until the apps are there. There's still no real video editor app in the store, so you won't be doing any video editing work for example. But, for people who work primarily in Office or on the web, Continuum is now perfect for you.

The Office Mobile apps perform great in Continuum, and now I can have multiple Office apps running on screen at the same time. You can copy and paste items between them with ease now, thanks to the fact you can have multiple apps on screen at one time. You still can't drag and drop between apps, not yet at least. This is still pre-release software after all.

You also have all the same customizations you'd expect to have on a Windows 10 device. You can apply your accent color to your titlebars, as well as the task bar and action center You can also change your wallpaper, of course. What's more, light/dark mode is truly universal with CShell, meaning it affects the taskbar as well as apps. This will also be the case when CShell comes to desktop.

CShell turns devices like the Microsoft Dock or HP LapDock into devices that make sense. When I use my Lap Dock with CShell, I feel like I'm using a real laptop, just without the added bloat of Win32. I really, really love it. It's made me use my Lap Dock more this week than I do normally, because Continuum feels useful now. It feels like a Windows device, and that's the point.

In short, we can't wait for CShell to show up on mobile devices. CShell is currently in the works internally at Microsoft, and is far from done. Everything in this article is of pre-release materials and is not final. As such, everything is subject to change. We're pretty excited for CShell — are you?

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • hey zac thanks for the inside scoop on continuum for mobile! looking forward to this update to continuum.
  • Hey Zac, will CShell on Mobile devices support multitasking?
    It would be cool to open two apps and resize them in both portrait and landscape modes on mobile devices(similar to tablet mode in Windows 10 currently).
  • hint is in the article ;-)
  • I'm a little bit puzzled. Traditionally, "multi tasking" means *running* two processes at the same time. Thus, "multi windowing" is not the same as multi tasking: it is possible to have two windows open at the same time where activity in one window is paused while activity runs in the other. In real multi tasking, it is possible to run activities in both windows at the same time. As an example, in one window, Groove is playing music while in another window, Visual Studio is compiling some code -- and both are running (seemingly) at the same time. It might be possible to have two windows open where you play Groove music in one window/application. Assume that you then run a compiler in the other window. If the system is "multi window" only, then starting the compiler would pause Groove... This would thus not be true multi tasking even though two windows were open at the same time. My point is that the fact that you can open multiple windows at the same time doesn't prove that the system multi tasks... From past experience with Windows, my experience is that Windows doesn't multi task "gracefully"... I have tried to work on a Word document while some computations run in another window (e.g., MATLAB code that may take one hour to finish). In the past, this tended to give very sluggish performance in Word; essentially you could just forget about using Word at the same time. Hopefully, the future support for throttling tasks could improve on this... I'd like to be able to run a word processor/type at full speed, but at the same time let a background process do useful work in between. In the past, this "background" task has kind of taken all resources.
  • The video posted earlier regarding CShell had a Continuum screen in which Word was being used while Groove played music in the background.
  • well, generally, your processor and RAM will also affect your ability to multitask. if you're doing MATLAB and its causing Word to suffer, I'd suggest looking into your resources. I've done plenty of heavy lifting processes in the background without it affecting other applications. It could also be how MATLAB is written as well. If it's coded to be multi-threaded, it may be choking up the processor as well. So, when it comes to multi-tasking, problems aren't always Windows' fault. It could also be the software's developer's fault.
  • Right now, I'm running a WPF app in Debug mode connecting to a web service in Debug mode while rendering video in Handbrake, watching a movie on PLEX and commenting on this thread....all on the same Windows machine running a 6-core AMD Phenom, 16GB RAM and an old-ass graphcs card (so not a beast of a box).  Windows has no problem multi-tasking.
  • Yes it supports multiple windows open at one time. At least in Continuum. Not sure about the regular mobile experience. Id like to see split screen like Android in the future though.
  • See the article...  >.>
  • You should clarify your comment. I'm pretty sure people don't understand that you're asking for multi-windowed experience *on* the mobile device itself. Not simply while connected through Continuum to a larger monitor.
  • " Now, we want to stress that although we're using an Elite x3 here, that's no indication that it will be coming to that device officially when CShell is ready — we simply don't know what devices Microsoft is planning to release CShell for. " Hint: this will run on devices with, at least, a Snapdragon 835.  Not for any technical reasons other than, breaking from past devices and associations of the OS.  Probably more of a marketing and positioning decision.
  • I have a feeling that you are correct(though I hope at least the 95X series gets in on the action) as all demos of the continuum update has been on the HP Ex3 as far as I can recall. MS is working very closely with HP hence the rumour of the x3 upgrade in the works. Depending on when MS releases CShell, I have a feeling it will be on the x3 first and then to other win10mobiles.
  • I see no technical barriers for the x3 and 950/xl not to run it. These devices launched with continuum as a usp and ms should give them the update to improve it.
  • Yeah, hope MS gives us CShell to our existing 950s as they seem capable of running it.
  • Hope they'll give the option but won't force cuz without WhatsApp my phone equals nothing.
  • There is a difference in being able to run it and running it in an acceptable manner. The latter may be subjective as the tolerance level is different for each individual but as MS is always being treated in an unreasonable position, they will choose to exclude the devices instead of being portraited as gimmicky/flawed attempt. That being said, X3 is mainly targetted at enterprise clients, I guess it will have a higher chance to bet it.
  • I agree. Hopefully, Microsoft can optimize CShell and the OS enough to lower minimum system requirements for the x3 and my 950 before RTM. But it has to be an experience that meets all expectations.
  • I do really hope 95X get this. But knowing Microsoft, all the current users might be dropped for this.
  • This will be incredible. Can you get this through insider builds? If so, I'll re-enroll in the insider program immediately.
  • Insiders are currently on a different development branch so it's uncertain.
  • Currently not. The official Insider builds do not (yet?) contain CShell. The build Zac is testing was released by accident by Microsoft and it's now no longer possible to download it. I also believe this only worked if you have an HP Elite x3.
  • Oh man I missed my chance lol
  • I think you cannot run Silverlight apps on this version? 
  • Correct no SL apps, even on the phone screen
  • I would like to thank Samsung for forcing MS into making this a priority again. I bet you Continuum wouldn't have gotten such a big rework, if at all, if there wasn't another fish in the pond strutten their junk. I know they didn't abandon it, just feels like there might be actual, serious effort now...but, we'll have to wait and see what the final product and marketing push will look like.
  • That's a joke. Stuff like this doesn't happen over a couple of months. MS has been working on this for awhile.
  • Samsung didn't force this, this type of work/coding takes time. If your so good at coding, why don't you apply for a job at MS and speed things up?
  • This is exactly why continuum has seen very little update since the intro of the 950s. The effort has been here.
  • Continuum has seen NO updates since it's inception.
  • This was first introduced last year at Build. There are videos which show this all over Windows Central from 2016. Samsung makes the processor, so they have the information to clone their clients work knowing what they are looking to do with the Snapdragon processors.
  • MS has actually helped Samsung to make DeX work.
  • And that's why I think Samsung will come out with a Windows 10 phone.
  • Shirely you jest.
  • Quite the opposite. Microsoft had a vision a the others have seen the light.
  • Hi cool4004, this isn't a rework of Continuum at all. :-) The iteration of Continuum that we have been using was simply a first iteration of a product under development with a clear goal to replicate the PC environment. Microsoft made very clear that that iteration we've known of Continuum was not the end goal. It's like a baby, growing toward maturity. What you see in this article is the more mature evolution of Continuum which was ALWAYS on the roadmap. As a matter of fact the 8 month old YouTube video: The Next Evolution of Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile linked below, which has been linked in MANY :-) of our articles since last year, revealed since 2016 where Microsoft was going with Continuum. What we see here is simply a fulfillment of what we see here: We've included that above video in our articles to show people that what is currently Continuum's state was never the end goal. :-) As a matter of fact once you watch the video you will see features like Proximity Connect and others that are coming as part of the roadmap that are not mentioned in this piece.
  • Microsoft needs to sell this to the app developers because all people care about is the apps.
  • It's still UWP, so as long as they develop for any of desktop/mobile/xbox/hololens they can easily be supported/extended. CShell is just the UI layer that can adapt to different screen sizes/use cases.
  • This should be a relatively easy sell for productivity app developers. I think it remains to be seen whether more consumer-oriented devs get on board.  
  • Can't wait for CShell to arrive throughout Windows 10 devices.
  • Exactly, Now there isn't good reason for a pc oem not make a windows mobile device especially with ARM where you get that lte chip in there for free plus intel is adding lte in their devices. Move enough units and you add telephony for phone calls and have the phone companies return to windows with subsidized devices.
  • First time I have been excited for Windows mobile in a long time!
  • I use Continuum now and, yeah, it's a bit limited but I am still in awe of my phone running Office and Groove on my 27 inch monitor at work. These changes will make it much better and I can't wait. This is why I'll keep using my 950XL until it gives up or I can buy whatever is the next Windows 10 mobile device. My employer recently forced me to use an iPhone for our internal mail and calendar systems, so I am now carrying two devices each day. As an act of rebellion, I'm using Continuum for my internal work in Office. There is no doubt that some of the apps I use regularly are better on the iPhone, but that boring, aged, and not intuitive iOS UI drives me crazy and the security my employer slapped on the iPhone makes it slow to open.
  • I agree. I use Continuum every day (internet restrictions on my work computer) and I'm so grateful this technology exists. I really hope MS can make it a true laptop replacement for the next go.
  • LOL...tries to watch a YouTube video at work....domain blocked..... I'll show people....boom....Continuum bypass for the win!!!! Truer words have never bee spoken.
  • I use my 950XL wirelessly with the projector in my work conference room using Continuum expierence and for Office stuff it works great. Works well enough for me so this will only be even better. The day I can connect my phone wirelessly to a monitor/keyboard/mouse and have it stay charged on wireless charge pad on my desk, to the point where it can replace my Surface Pro functionailty wise, that will be revolutionary. We are almost there.
  • The day I place my phone on a wireless charge pad and NFC detects that it's my "desktop" charger, connects to WiDi, kyby/mouse for me is what I'm waiting for.
  • Woah!
  • You can already use wireless keyboard & mouse but I've never been a fan of wirless display.
  • I don't have a problem with everything being cabled in to the dock. This is a 'fixed' environment anyway. So what if I need to connect one cable to the phone. Would be nice if were in a cradle dock configuration. My Display Dock is set up with a logitech mouse and keybord, the unifying receiver stuck in the dock, but the monitor is cable to the dock, and HDMI delivers sound. I use wireless charging a lot, but for this, a cable seems to keep up better anyway. Little better heat transfer too, with the phone not laying on its back on the charger and all the heat having to dissipate up through the display.
  • I'm very excited!
  • I try to demo this and get burned at work with my 950xl and continuum dock.  On hdmi at home I am great on monitors and TVs here it doesn't sync.  When this comes out to newer devices I may dump my work SP4 and just leave it in car as most of my work is office and RDP.
  • Where is Tablet Mode though?
  • I'm legitimately curious: when would you want to run a phone in Tablet Mode?
  • Especially considering that this is for using it when docked withou a mouse and keyboard... I don't get the interest in Tablet Mode with Continuum. Maybe there's a good reason. Maybe he's just trying to confirm that CShell re-cofigures for all modes, including Tablet, and not specficially asking about Continuum in tablet mode.
  • Tablet mode would be just like lapdock mode. Connects wirelessly to big touch screen with battery. If they can make a $99-$149 version, I'm in.
  • For the device I think MS should that docks into a tablet screen,  that can run surface book and keyboard setups.  Book setup would have more power when docked...etc....
  • While I agree it is not primary thing, the question isn't nonsense. Since some previous update Microsoft claims that Continuum also supports touch monitors. So if you have some 15" touch monitor you might like to use it in the tablet mode.
  • They don't claim it, it does. I have hooked a 21" touch monitor to my Display Dock, HDMI and USB, as they typically are hooked up, and it works fine. Right now Continuum doesn't do enough to make it annoying you can't pick desktop or tablet. You only get one big app at a time anyway. With the recent insider fast update on Win 10 though, you have to look at the new 'phone' swipe keyboard to see phone formatting/functionality being added to Win 10 along with tablet/desktop. Seems clear, the intercovfefe will conform to whatever size screen you have based on that size or user selectable like tablet/desktop is today. I really expect, that you will be able to select tablet/desktop on the larger screen connecd to your mobile device. We are looking at early stuff that wasn't even supposed to be public yet. 
  • You won't run a phone in tablet mode, you will run a tablet in computer/phone mode. This will be on all devices, phones, tablets, laptop.... Just think if a phone can do it why not a tablet?
  • If MS wants to do this right and support it, they should consider setting up continuum bars in hub airports, starbucks, college campuses, whatever, for people on the go.  This will also serve as plenty of advertizing.
  • Probably the only sensible response there will be to this article. Makes a lot of sense, and thats why Microsoft will absolutely NOT do it.
  • airport space is super expensive. if you buy space, you need that space to actively make money. this won't. i could see it being a promotional thing maybe? starbucks & college campuses on the other hand? eh, i can see that. personally what would help MS sell it is if its a hotspot for kids with laptops *or* windows phones. maybe throw in DeX support to if possible. Makes it a better sell to get those places to support it.
  • I acknowledge that you are right about airport space being expensive.  But, if I could take my continuum phone into a place with KB/Monitor/Mouse in a hub airport between flights and do some light work, that would be awesome.  It would give the device a cool desirable quality.  Might be worth the money in marketing. I said Starbucks, because people like to sit there, drink miserably expensive coffee, display their lit up Apple logo, and pretent to author the next great American novel. 
  • It may be cheaper if they sold something similar to HP's LapDock to these places and they can loan them out to users. Setting up full kiosks in these places would possibly be a hard sell now that i think about it. it'd be permanent fixtures and they may not want to do that (well, college campuses may be on board, but starbucks... they like their image).
  • Good point here.
  • While I like to see MS championing this idea, I only see it as wasted money. Hardly anyone would use it. This is due to the fact that very few people have Windows Mobile compared to Android and IOS. Fewer still who have a phone with Continuum. Now, if there were a larger userbase, I can see this. This is just me, but I still carry around a 2 in 1 laptop for lightweight and real productivity work. 
  • A larger userbase shouldn't be a problem for much longer. The Dex Dock works with Continuum supported phones. I wouldn't be surprised if that compatibility went both ways for the S8.
  • Imagine if the seatback monitor on your airplane had an HDMI input. Your phone, and a little folding keyboard would mitigate that laptop travel ban, now wouldn't it?
  • Looking forward to this...
  • The only thing that I never liked in the WC demo was that the Continuum Start Menu was different from the full desktop Windows. I hope MS change that, I feel we should get the full desktop menu when in desktop mode. Everything else looked great.
  • hey there, I think eventually it may come. I use the search bar/Cortana often so its a bummer its not available in these screenshots, but for what the windows team has done so far its incredible!
  • i feel like its odd to have two entirely different start menus though. I don't want to have to take care of two different start screens. If I change one, I don't want to have to worry about changing another.
  • They should have a toggle in settings Sync Start in Continuum On or Off.
  • While I wouldn't necessarily be against that, I also would not list it high on priorities. The whole purpose of Continuum is to offer similar experiences back and forth, not change them. It just seems like its counter to the theme surrounding Continuum.
  • Of course we are excited for this new version of contiuum!
    We've been using an early pre-release version of CShell on an HP Elite x3, which is rocking a Snapdragon 820 and 4GB RAM. Now, we want to stress that although we're using an Elite x3 here, that's no indication that it will be coming to that device officially when CShell is ready — we simply don't know what devices Microsoft is planning to release CShell for.
    Wel regarding this subject. THEY SHOULD MAKE IT WORK ON THE LUMIA 950(xl) AND HP ELITE. They dropped customers to often now the last years. Its time for them to prove that customers are important to them and not easily thrown away if a concept doesn't work. Even if they don't make a big announcement about it being supported on these devices the update should be there. They always kinda said continuum wil improve for the lumia 950. So far it hasn't. Come on Microsoft you can do better. Show us that you care!
  • While I would like this update to be coming to my Lumia 950 it may be better to start with a fresh phone so you can ensure that the user experience is on par. Especially since the 950 is an aging device or may even be past end of life by the time this update actually hits. A better user experience and lesser chance of a fiasco due to hardware would benifite everyone at this point. Especially at this point where negativity would more than likely completely knock Microsoft out of the mobile game. I fully agree on the customer side of your statement though. I have found myself disapointed at Microsoft so far just due to the fact that I was hoping that phones would last longer with their OS.    
  • I also considered the argument that you are making. And you are right it could be bad. Microsoft wil probably want everyone to forget about the old Windows phone and destroying any link to the old OS would include dropping support for older devices. Which is why I fear this update wont come to the Lumia 950. That is also why I suggested that they could release it quietly or maybe just with a simple application or hack. Fully dropping does however comes with a reputation cost as well. I hear on less Windows fan tech sites heavy complaints about the support of Microsoft regarding their mobile devices. This could also prove to be an issue in case of successfully launching a new platform.
  • If it is stable and bug free it should run at least in both lumia 950/xl. It has been proven that current continuum can run in unlocked Lumia 830 and 930...
  • MS is truly setting the bar in mobile computing lately. I am just worried about the loyalty factor in cell phone space where consumers prefer to stick with familiar no matter the limitations :(. And with time, google and apple will copybake similar features into their ecosystems while taking credit for the implementation... Anyway, my question here is, will I finally have the option to set up new device while preserving the layout and and app structure of my start screen?
  • Google already introduced a free form mode into Nougat. I wouldn't be surprised if Samsung used it to create their DeX mode. Anyways, Motorola had this feature back in 2011. Microsoft isn't doing anything new here.
  • I catch your drift, and thanks for the feedback. The way I see it though is that MS has much more on their plate essentially scaling desktop origin OS to something that works in unison across mony platforms. You can't really say that about android as it has always been mobile first system. Cheers.
  • The wheels used in Formula 1 are essentially the same like the wheels invented many thousand years ago. However if you don't know to appreciate whole work and knowledge and even difference between those wheels it is your own problem.
  • Wrong as usual. Motorola made a device that you snapped your phone in to and it blew phone apps up on a larger display. Microsoft has made a UI and app framework that understands the context in which you are using the device and delivers the proper interaction model. One sucked, the other is a game changer.
  • That only works with a half dozen programs after almost two years.
  • It works with most UWP apps, actually - and there are hundreds if not thousands of those.  Any app that has been updated for Windows 10 works with Continuum.  At least, I have not see one yet that will not.  Those that are still Windows Phone 7/8/8.1 applications run only on the phone in Windows 10 Mobile. 
  • Not true at all. I have plenty of Windows 10 apps that are not compatible. You can only mirror the phone screen, it doesn't scale them.
  • Motorola made that device like 6 years ago and it had multi-window if I recall and worked fine. It was the same basic idea as what Microsoft's is doing 6 years later. People didn't care then and won't care next year if this ever gets completed. It just doesn't make sense in a time when hardware is cheap and the cloud makes our data ubiquitous.
  • Maybe people should read this Motorola Atrix review to get an idea idea about how it worked and whether it was fine.   It is a fun read in any case, just for what was state of the art, or pushing the envelope, in 2011. I'm not sure running firefox in a linux shell, with a mirror of the phone screen to the side is essentially the same thing as what MS is doing, but hey, Tesla is doing essentially the same thing the Electric Vehicle Company did in the late 1800s early 1900s. 
  • Most outstanding features like low light, living images to continuum, iris recognition unlock has been copied and MS had gotten no credit because Nadella is saying to find a hypothetical holy grail and not actively invest in mobile phone. It is sad 😢
  • I am very very excited!!!
  • Great formation, but I really deteste when someone says "xx should have been xx from the start". Tech journalists always make this silly comment Gotta break eggs to make omelets....
  • Exactly my thoughts as well. If they could they obviously would have done it. There can be no version 2 without a version 1. What other software company has developed an OS as ambitious as W10, that scales across so many form factors with interfaces that adapt to screen size etc., not to mention now being able to run on both x86 and ARM. The development of the APIs that support continuum alone is nothing short of amazing. It's a long journey, but they'll get there!
  • Does Windows 10 scale across as many devices as Android? I don't think so. I don't think it is even close.
  • Hmmmm....Where are the vastly available Android Desktop, Laptops, 2-1/Convertible laptops and HMD gear, powered by Android? Android is primarily phones, tablets, TVs, watches, IoT. Windows 10 is primarily on desktops, laptops, tablets, 2-1s, convertible laptops, HMDs, phones, IoT, HoloLens and basically anything you can fit an x86/64/ARM processor to lead the way use of Windows programs. If you don't mind, bleached, please explain what other device types does Android scale across that are more in number than even the list I provided. Maybe I am missing some device types.  
  • Very interesting that you broke laptops and tablets into so many different categories, but Android is available and scales to all these form factors even if they aren't widely used. You can also buy Android desktops and VR/AR devices and have been able to for years. I cannot think of a single form factor that Windows scales to and Android doesn't. Microsoft has no platform for wearables, auto, or TV. Android and Android apps scale to more devices than Windows.
  • Thank you for your reply. Why is it interesting? Those are actual device categories.
  • Because they are just different forms for a laptop. It is like saying flip phones, slab phones, phablets and hardware keyboard phones all count separately.
  • No. Full stop. Android apps do not scale. Period. TV apps are different than phone/tablet apps, are different than auto apps are different than Daydream apps are different than wear apps. If you want to be on all 5 you have to make 5 apps. That is the opposite of scaling.
  • You have to create the interface for some of these of course but you don't have to write the whole app. Scaling isn't going to work for an auto, wearable or TV app. These need to have specific UIs and it doesn't make sense to scale them. Microsoft doesn't do this either. Even having an app scale to different screen sizes is a bad idea. The UI should be purpose built for each screen size. Scaling works, but a quality app is going to have custom UIs, it isn't going to rely on Microsoft's​ or Google's scaling.
  • Hey Bleached. Once again you are speaking as a simple consumer about technical things and are missing the point. Just like Android, W10 can be scaled to many forms. But that's not what is being discussed. What is being discussed is the ability to write once and be able to scale across the spectrum of devices. Currently an Android app has to be scaled separately for phone, tablet, wide screen, watch. That's a lot of writing. What MS is doing is the dream of program writing...write once apply across any platform. Android doesn't do that despite your ability to use the apps on various platforms. It could also explain why Android apps are so poor looking in quality...a whole lot of writing. Developers do get tired. 😄
  • Windows 10 can be run on phone or PC. It doesn't scale to anything else, and currently it doesn't scale to those things either, it has to have a custom build and UI for each. Making apps that scale from phone to PC is simple. Android did that years ago, and just like Google recommended then, developers should create custom UIs for each form factor if they want users to have the best experience. Microsoft hasn't made any headway here. Write once is just a dream. You cannot create a UWP that automatically scales on TV, mobile, PC, wearables, VR or auto. Mostly because Windows isn't available in many of those places and also because it doesn't make sense. A phone app can't scale to an auto or wearables or even a TV without having a custom UI created. A custom UI is always going to be a better experience than a scaled UI.
  • Bleached, W10 runs on all kinds of form factors. That's what the internet of things is about. You only interact with Windows on a consumer level, but W10 runs factory machines, airplanes, banking systems, etc. It's an operating system, it can be developed to run anything, just like Android. But the development of CShell is a game changer as far as implementation. Android doesn't have that function right now, but I'm sure they are working on getting it. It's the next step. MS is just more ahead than them.
  • Android has had a composable shell for years now. I can change the DPI of screen size of my Nexus 6 and the UI will scale and adapt accordingly. Microsoft claims they can do that, but until next year, they can't.
  • As a developer that actually programs for such things, UWP does scale - you don't build custom UIs for each form factor - at least you shouldn't.  You make sure that you app scales to desktop size and then is appropriate when someone resizes the window.  That is all you have to do and the app will work fine on the phone as well reguadless of the size or DPI.  Better yet, make sure you are using vector-based graphics and it scales even better.  Using vector on Android is a pain and doesn't really work like you would want it to - it basically takes the vector and makes a one-time bitmap of it and resizes that from then on.  Android becomes a pain for scailing because, to get it right, you have to specify different versions of your forms for each resolution type - not to mention all of the variations of devices you might have to support.  Too many flavors of the OS.  TV support is NOT automatic by any stretch. Saying write-once is a dream is something that has been said by many, but it is closer today then it ever has been.  The vast majority of Office code is now the same between iOS, Android, Windows UWP, Windows x86, Windows x64, and MacOS.  For mobile and desktop developers you can get very close with Xamarin in having the vast majority of your code and UI be coded the same for all of the platforms (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows UWP, etc).  Actually, the only place you mention where Windows is not currently available is wearables.  The auto version is, I suppose, not in a release state yet, but it had been announced.  Windows is available on TVs, PCs (including all possible PC and mobile form factors), Xbox One devices, IoT/Kiosk devices, VR/AR (yes, UWP automatically works there, no adjustment required), smartphones, mobile devices such as industrial scanners, etc.  Not to mention supporting Keyboard, Mouse, Touch, Active Stylus/Pen input, voice input and more with little to no coding to enable it.
  • @The_Bytemaster is someone that actually knows what he's talking about. @bleached please take notes from a real developer.
  • You are right about is not being close, but wrong (as usual) about the direction. Were you dropped a lot as a baby?
  • Wow, and here's bleached throwing shade on MS and Win10.  How predictable. 
  • Why did improvements take so long? There has been virtually no continuum development since it was released, and who knows how long until this next version is ready.
  • Obviously waiting for CShell to be useable
  • Ah yes. Most companies do release things 3 years ahead of when the actual structure to make them useable is in place. This way you can further alienate your user base with a lackluster product and diminish your abysmal market share. Obviously.
  • Go help them make it better and in a shorter time then. Go write code but for Windows. For an OS with a ton of resources.
  • So seriously, can Microsoft look us directly in our faces and prevent our current L950s and X3 from getting this long awaited continuum update?
  • I think the 950 xl has a 820 chip inside just like the x3 the 950 does not so you cant run it on the 950
  • 950 xl has a SD 810 chip inside.
  • Deep breath.......
    Hasn't happened yet.
  • By the time this ships the Lumias will be at their two year mark. I'd be surprised if MS will update these phones past that date.
  • It all depends on the timing - There's no secret this is in the works, so I think it should at least come to Insiders on existing devices. Even if they release it to Insiders on 950, XL and X3 and when it comes to the actual release do what they did to the 930 etc. and drop official support for it going forwards. The 930 never got Creators Update officially, but if you got it on Insider builds - They could do the same here and only officially support it on new devices that come out at the same time as the release. They need to get a Skype for Business app done for then too - Their focus is enterprise and if they go this route and drop SL apps including WhatsApp then that's a further sign they are still focussed on enterprise - We need to be able to run the various MS apps and services and currently S4B is still a WP8.1 app (That works just fine)
  • If they don't update either the L950s or X3, there won't be a phone in the world that can run this unless they do the typical "MSFT App Release Shuffle" -  Get it working on iOS & Android first and then saying that in a couple of months/years they will get a UWP version running. Or we wait for this functionality for 15-18 months when MSFT might release a new phone.
  • I would think Insiders will get this on existing devices, but maybe won't officially get support for the release - LIke how the 930 got Creators Update all the way through the Insider Builds but then got dropped from official support. There's no reason to hide the OS changes from others, the cats already out of the bag and we know how it's going to work....Just like Windows 10 works - More value in getting Insider feedback IMO than holding the whole thing back until a brand new device releases.
  • Sure they can. They looked me straight in the eye and told my WM 6.5 wasn't getting 7. Then they said sorry, but your WP7 isn't getting 8. 8 to 10? Well some of you. Creators update? A few less of you.This new era of Windows Mobile..'s a new thing, and even though we've been testing it on the very hardware you own, you've told us the experience isn't super, so sorry.  When it gets right down to it though, I'll want the new hardware as I have every other time. It hurts my wallet, but I've never been dissappointed when I did it, just when they told me the next one wasn't free. Start saving now..
  • Do you think the Lumia 950s could handle this?
  • The could optimize the update it to run.....they can do it, it's Microsoft.
  • I do, the 950 is not stretched to it's limits IMO, the hardware in the phone could run W10M quicker in it's current form but I think it's the OS holding the hardware back more than the other way round
  • Wohoooooo.
  • Hey Zak You're talking about Continuum in a very wierd way. Continuum is an ability! Like a plane's ability to fly. For Windows, Continuum refers to app's and the OS' ability to adapt to different screen sizes. Continuum is not a mode of operation. Continuum is not a specific piece of hardware or a software routine. A phone that is hooked up to a large screen is not called Continuum. Continuum is achieved through a cooperation of the OS and higher level software (like CShell or apps) running ontop of the OS, together providing the ability for user facing software to dynamically adapt to different screen sizes. Scentences like these are just plain wrong: Booting Continuum on a device running CShell (continuum can't be booted) Launching an app in Continuum with CShell (an app can't be launched in Continuum, it's not a container) The Office Mobile apps perform great in Continuum (nope, Continuum is not a mode of operation) If you were to open the Word app on a desktop computer, would you say that app is running in Continuum mode? No, you would not. The thing is, if that desktop is running CShell, then there is absolutely no difference between the desktop and the mobile device (hooked up to a large screen) opening the Word app. It's the exact same thing. Neither is in "Continuum mode", because like I said, Continuum is not a mode of operation. This is the correct way to think and speak about it: On large screens, CShell with offer this exerpience... On small screens, CShell will offer that experience... Thanks to continuum, app X will adapt it's UI to device X, Y and Z. Continuum allows the start menu to layout its contents differently on large and small screens. etc.. By fixing the way you speak about it, you'd be painting a much more accurate picture of what continuum is in readers minds.
  • It's Zac....
  • Continuum is an app on my phone, just FYI.
  • Sounds very promising!
  • OK, so where are the mobile apps MOST of the people use? Where is the apps that make people buy new phones?? MOST of people dont buy phones to have AutoCAD or Photoshop in their pockets...
  • Have you noticed MS saying "focusing on enterprise"?
    Consumers may buy it, but MS isn't coming back with a campaign towards them right away.
    Unless they change their minds, which, well, what is the chance of that happening?
  • The article did not mention this focus.
  • Focusing on enterprise? Even in enterprises they need apps to run on their devices. And good luck trying to convince any manger or CIO of buying mobile devices that run Windows in a world dominated by iOS and Android. The only enterprises for which this might be an option is those who already have a Windows based infrastructure, strict security requirments that only WM can offer and who are satisified with either the limited set of apps that are currently available (such as the Office apps) or who are willing to write their own inhouse apps for those devices. For the latter I which them good luck in finding developers willing to write those apps, because they need to learn a skill (UWP development) that has no value or demand outside of the enterprise world. Even when focusing on the enterprise, the appeal of this solution will still be limited.
  • Bleached?
  • Running x86 apps potentially?
    No Snapchat would be seen as a plus.
  • Are you saying that C# or JavaScript does not have a place outside of the enterprise? There is a lot of application development in Apache Cordova, Xamarin, and games in Unity.  Unity scripting is C# by the way, so basically every game that you see that is "made with unity" on you Xbox, iPhone, or Android device is (likely) using C#. Windows Mobile sells in enterprise for a few main reasons: Security - top of the line mobile security Manageability - Devices can be easily managed and integrated into existing management solutions, including anything they are deploying for Windows 10 desktops.  The internal/private Windows Store also helps with this. App compatibility - because a lot of in-house developed applications are already on Windows, migrating those to UWP for Windows 10 desktops can easily be a long-term goal.  The UWP means more security and improved management and ease of distribution to enterprise devices.  That same application can then move to their mobile devices with little to no effort.  There are a lot of .Net developers in enterprise already. Network Compatibility - VPN, etc. can be forced While tools to enable simmilar features are available for iOS and Android, it requires installing and maintaining another set of 3rd party applications just to manage those devices. Also, while there are less apps for Windows Mobile, it only matters if the apps you need are there - and there is a lot of enterprise applications such as SalesForce, WebEx, etc. that are there already.  If all of you buinsess required apps are already there, it starts to make more sense.
  • "The only enterprises for which this might be an option is those who already have a Windows based infrastructure," Are there a lot of enterprises that have an Android or iOS infrastructure? 
  • will all printers work since it is actually windows 10
  • Yes, they should all work as long as there is a driver available.
  • Is it actually Windows 10 or a cut down version specifically for this function? If they did it right then the same image should work on your desktop, XBox, phone and tablet without any differences. If each one requires separate builds, then it doesn't actually do what they say.
  • It is Windows 10, but there are different builds because certain "personalities" are not installed.  Personalities was the name given to them back in the NT days when they supported POSIX personality and OS/2 personality as well.  Xbox, Windows Mobile, and others do not have the Win32 personality installed. Drivers, though, are another thing.   Print drivers are a mixed bag because of how printer manufactures develop them.  There is the same driver system, but it has to, for example, be compiled for ARM and not be adding functionitly that requires the Win32 API.
  • I am day dreaming that C shell is running on my Lumia.
  • Pero que impidió que asi fuera la primera versión?
  • Estas cosas llevan tiempo.
  • Not really. Im using my phone a lot and i want apps to run like whatsapp etc..
  • Sounds cool. Sounded cool a year and a half ago and we're still waiting. I just ordered a new HP ProBook. Maybe in 4 years I'll take another look at Continuum. MS really needs to move faster, especially now that Samsung has copied the idea.
  • So refreshing to see an article on Windows 10 on ARM. Those "switch to other platform" articles made it seem like there was no development that would benefit mobile in the future. In my opinion, CShell is what Microsoft needed to do years ago or at least say they were working on it, while simultaneously releasing new hardware.
  • I can't wait to see it all come together. I'll stick with my 950xl until the end of time... at least until the new hardware comes along from MS.
  • "problem" whatever, the fact that it worked was awesome enough, ppl just have zero chill when it comes to this stuff, I celebrate 🙌🏼 instead of spitting hate 😎
  • Are you able to run non-continuum-enabled apps in windowed mode? Our will they still have to be opened on the phone display?
  • I'm guessing it depends on the developer.
  • What kind of apps are you thinking of? WP8 apps or Windows 10 apps only?All apps bulilt on UWP support Continuum unless it has been specifically disabled (By default, a UWP app will work in Continuum out of the box, you need to edit the manifest XML to disable it)
  • Yeah excited, but who has a device to run it on?
  • Looks really good. Hope its available for the 950 soon.
  • But there's no windows mobile handset that's decent to work with it since the 930 was officially off the support list.
  • The ultimate question: how does Edge perform?
  • Looks like Samsung done same.
  • Get glasses.
  • Waiting for this on my Lumia 640 XL
  • Cshell is the game changer card  
  • It is everything we've been asking for but there is still one vital thing you/we need to tell Microsoft...! The experience in CShell is awesome and it is 'flat'. This is a good thing. It should be HoloLens/AR that brings about the 3D aspect, not Windows screens without it. I really think this is an important distinction until things like holograms can miraculously appear 'out of the screen' (we're not there today for sure). If not, I fear CShell and the next release of W10 will be messed up by 3D. Trust me.        
  • Not only does it slowly get users used to the idea of 3d it also gives MS a chance to get early feedback to perfect their design patterns. It's actually a smart idea to go with 3d. It's a new take on it. IF you think about it the vision for the future is Augmented reality. That will likely be your main device in the future. Everything else will be supplementary. You want everything to look familiar around your main device.
  • MS have struggled with the design aspect since W8 (which was descibed by one PCPro journalist as lipstick on a pig) but are now getting things right. They need to listen to the positive feedback about CShell in these columns and not clutter up the newly (rightly)acclaimed design with 3D which I would suggest is prone to misuse. I also suggest MS get the feedback you suggest via peripheral hardware, not mess things up again as they did with tiles in W8. On a quite separate note, MS have a lot of work to do with their developer website graphics, many of which on MSDN, unlike the old MSDN Developer 'paper' freebies, convey informative hints about the articles they address i.e. there's nothing nice in the design of them, they don't make previously read articles easy to find, they're generically similar and ugly.  
  • And you realize why it's taking them so long. The scope of their project is massive. They need to take design features more seriously because people in this generation like looking at pretty things, especially if they have to do it. Depth is also a more natural way to link a hierarchy than on a 2d surface. This allows not just applications in general OS to be easier to use but it also can make websites look amazing and easy to navigate. It is by human nature to work in 3d environments. It is more natural and easier to use. We see things this way. Imagine a Live tile that is flat and when it explodes it shows even more tiles and maybe there's even a 3rd hierarchy. It will be a mess in 2d. Now use depth of field and other nice blurring. sizing and tilting effects you will know exactly what you are looking at much like your eyes focus on real objects in real life. At the dinner table If you focus on the plate your vision gets worse as it drifts further from the focal point. So you can still make things out around it but the further out the less you can do. MS seems to be going towards this sort of design. It's forward thinking no doubt.
  • No reason why tiles couldn't open out into menus/limited app features. The next W10 update is not ready from a 3D perspective whereas CShell is awesome. Like I said, safer to develop the 3D aspect in a peripheral device for now.
  • other thing. The left hand vertical menu is in danger of being boring. It would be a real shame to force menu position on UWP apps.
  • Hope my 650 gets it even tho i think it will never will :( i just want that perfect start screen we always diserved no need for continiuum
  • I'm hoping the start screen gets better before it's released - If you put a Surface Pro into Tablet Mode and tap a tile you can feel a delay in the launch of the app, something isn't quite right - On W10M it's nice and smooth and feels natural - I'm sure they will iron that out though and then it'll be improved for all device that utilise that shared start screen
  • I have an elite x3. Can you please share how to install and test this? Thanks
  • As before, this is really cool, but it's hard to care. This site itself has made claims we're basically a year from any chance to actually try this, after saying the Surface Phone is now pushed back to Fall 2018. Hard to be excited about this when I can't use this and we've had so many delays/cancelaions from the ecosystem in the last few years. I actually took my Display Dock on a trip yesterday, first time I had touched it in months. It didn't take long to get frustrated at the experience, as it didn't seem interested in handing off audio over HDMI. Music played through the phone, not the TV, and video didn't want to give me audio at all. It was a bit late, so I dind't care to fight it to get the music going, but it's a personal experience that I would hope is stepped way up next time. Tired of sitting on my hands with this stuff. I want a new phone. I want to enjoy Windows on that phone. The lack of hardware is really starting to hurt. I'd rather not have to go to another platform, but MS is really making it hard to stick around.
  • what it should have been from the start
    I love Zac's opinions, but articles like these smack of ignorance about how ideas come about and software is developed. 1st of all, good ideas take time to develop. The fact that you thought of something clever today doesn't automatically mean you could have thought of it yesterday, last week, or even last year as this article is suggesting. 2nd of all, software isn't developed with a magic wand. Due to internal architecture, some of the simplest user-facing changes require some of the most complex under the hood alterations.
  • In 2010 that was a poor excuse. The iPhone was released years before and was obviously the future. In 2017, that is no excuse at all. Microsoft should have had this vision 5+ years ago and it should be starting to mature by now. Instead, it will be a year before the first release and years after that before it is mature assuming they don't kill it first. Microsoft is very late to the game.
  • As I said, there's a limit to how quickly you can generate and implement ideas, regardless of how far behind you are. I worked in software development & know what it's like to be criticized for only just implementing FeatureA this week instead of last month, when in fact I didn't even know the method or need for FeatureA until last week. Yes, Microsoft is late to the game. But the speed at which they catch up is limited by the fundamental humanity of their developers. Software development isn't turbocharged by being behind any more than you'd suddenly become Usain Bolt upon realizing you might finish dead last in a footrace.
  • It's not our fault Nadella fired experienced teams and is working with interns...for MS is always: wait for it, soon, not ready, while others continue to develop at a much faster pace. Microsoft, no matter how much time they take, they don't seem able to deliver a good quality product, or when they actually do, they kill the project.
  • Come on, bleached, say something positive about something other than Android.  It won't hurt, I promise.  Might open up a whole new world for you.
  • "that's no indication that it will be coming to that device officially when CShell is ready — we simply don't know what devices Microsoft is planning to release CShell for." I'm guessing that MSFT will not have any current phones work with the new CShell.  Of course neither MSFT nor anyone else will release a new phone.  Leave it to MSFT to release an update that can't be deployed on any phone!  You can't make this stuff up!
  • Cshell is most useful for devices with small screens that is running on a larger screen. This all points toward a mobile device smaller than 8" screen. MS will have to make it first to show the OEMs what it can do. All clues point towards a Surface Mobile device, most likely a mini tablet or 2-1 phablet. Can't wait to see what Panos and his team comes up with. The software guys have to get it right, or else it won't work. Hopefully they can announce something this fall for 2018 production.
  • They have already announced that Surface phone is in the manufacturing process now
  • And will hit the market when ready.... Waiting..........
  • Source?
  • This looks awesome!
  • still without apps.
  • It's obvious that app gap in the mobile space will still be an issue. But that mobile app gap is not what is being discussed for this article.
  • Hey Zac, I am a true lover of Windows Mobile and I want you to convey my message to the Microsoft Authorities. As we have seen soo many developments and new updates, I want a Live Background feature for Windows Phone just like we have in the Androids. I am pretty sure that it will be really cool to have a Live background running on your Windows Phone. Please convey this message as a feedback to Microsoft development authority.. I want it soo soo much..Thank You
  • This is going to be the best thing since sliced bread 🍞. It will make possible more devices while making others obsolete.
  • The taskbar in these pictures looks way nicer and cleaner than its desktop sibling. There's even more consistency in the icon sizes. Wish it'd be extended to the desktop.
  • I'd love to see that Win32 to ARM emulator with Continuum too, at least as an option, but since y'all hate it and Microsoft seems to be phasing it out, I'm probably not supported n that idea much.
  • I will be more excited if I can just plug my phone into ANY windows 10 laptop's usb-c port and kind of hijack the PC.  Of course I will be runing in a virtual environment only with by default no access to the host's data.  But the big screen and keyboard are all mine.  That's total portability without any docking at all.
  • Interesting. Indeed, this does seem like the experience that should have come with Continuum day 1.  I will be on the sidelines watching and waiting to see how this develops. Thanks for sharing!
  • We all know what it should have been. All of us except Microsoft.
  • can't believe this hasn't been upvoted more than it has!!!
  • Waiting for mobile build 16212...............................
  •  Sounds great!! I use Continuum now, but would love to give Cshell a try.
  • I am not excited about anything M$ is putting out, until I see it literally helping me. We have been told too many times that M$ was going to do something big, only to be disappointed in the end result. So until I see it happening, and can use it in a useful way, I will NOT be holding my breath...
  • If you want to see it, be on the insider build programme.
  • I am not sure some peoples comments about Continuum not getting improved is true, I remember when you couldn't resize apps on the screen , and now you can. I use Continuum alot for Office, Grove and Edge. CShell abilities will just be an epic experience from such a small device in your pocket.
  • I'd really like to have a Continnum phone, but MS never lunched any one here where I live, Brazil.
  • Please buy one from amazon. You can also find from people that switched on eBay.
  • CShell looks really nice and I agree that it's what Continuum should have been on the first rollout. Regardless, the experience looks exactly like you'd expect - no UI experience limitations compared to a full windows desktop/laptop installation. I'm thinking that one of the end goals for CShell and Continuum on mobile devices is to project the phone UI within a mixed reality headset. That allows for a fully mobile experience with a virual large monitor in the headset. Lots of potential and use cases there. 
  • Can you open multiple instances of eg Word? Like two Word documents next to each other?
  • Thank you Zac Bowden for this article, and yes I am excited about the CShell
  • If the MS can make thier Samrt Phone connect directly to Monitor without Dock and can have mouse, headphone & keyboard connect by bluetooth in same time to phone, they will hit the market !
  • Actually it is possible, if your monitor supports Miracast...
  • Looks very promising. I wonder whether you can finally install extensions in Edge with this build?
  • I hope they can make Edge on mobile more like PC so it can play flash and also add in extensions. This would make a world of difference as apps wouldn't be required as much as you could do a lot through Edge. It will make it especially easy if you can pin web pages to the taskbar like you can in the latest PC builds.
  • Realistically with Microsoft producing no first party mobile phones c-shell, as it is now, may only be applicable to the HP Elite X3. Even then there is the big assumption it will even be made available on the current Windows 10 Mobile devices. Looking forward it seems to be a feature for this mythical "ultra mobile device" that may (or may not) carry a Surface brand. No one has suggested anything like this will be consumer based as Microsoft have abandoned the consumer mobile space. I think having the option is good. Continuum development is good technically. C-Shell seems a solid addition to uniting the Windows experience across all devices. However without a viable mobile device that people use and have in their pockets it's all theory. Without UWP applications that make use of Continuum its also just OK and not anything that will change the world. At the moment any potential customer would find it a struggle to find a mobile device for sale from Microsoft with a screen size less than 10 inches.
  • Nice!
  • Those ******** about continuum must be real heavy work a holics. I for one love my x3 and the continuum function. RDP to other pcs on my network, running word to update docs while listening to groove streaming. I mean seriously multi tasking and multi window are two different things. What I would like to see is all apps have the ability to run in continuum. Like my slingplayer app. But other than that continuum now is very good, their work in improving it further is just gravy. Now the hp Elite x3 is a pc already if Microsoft was to leave us out I would never buy another windows phone ever again.
  • They will leave you out, no doubt about it.
  • I'm very pretty much excited on this one!