Samsung 'DeX' is Continuum for the Galaxy S8 — with support from Microsoft

That's right, with the new Galaxy S8, Samsung is taking on Microsoft's desktop-esque Continuum feature with its own take that has a clunkier name. DeX is the desktop dock system available alongside the Galaxy S8 that will transform the phone in your pocket into a PC-like experience on the big screen.

Better still — at least for folks who use Microsoft services — is that Microsoft is already on board with its long-term mobile partner, and it optimized some of its apps for the launch of DeX. Microsoft has been preloading Office and other apps on the Galaxy devices for some time now, so this isn't surprising.

Five things to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the DeX dock

Samsung DeX

There's still a lot to learn about exactly how Samsung's system will work, but even at this early stage there's much we do know. The DeX dock is required as the interface, much as you need some form of interface for Continuum, and it allows folks carrying a Galaxy S8s to plug in their phones, hook up a keyboard, mouse and other peripherals, and then use their phones like a PC.

The biggest drawback, if you can call it that, is that it only runs Android apps. So while it may look and operate like a PC, it's far from it. This won't be replacing a desktop or laptop right now, but like Continuum, it could be a great tool for working while on the go.

Samsung Dex

The interface is very PC-like, though, right down to the "Start menu" and the ability to pin apps to the desktop window. It also doesn't lose any of the phone functionality when docked. After all, it's a phone first and foremost.

There's still a question about how Samsung is going to allow non-optimized apps to run in the DeX environment, but what about those that are, such as apps from Microsoft? Office apps like Word and PowerPoint are already fully DeX compliant, offering a tailored experience for the big screen when docked. Exactly like you get from Continuum.

Other apps such as Adobe Lightroom are also supported — something which would be AWESOME to have on Windows 10 for Continuum — as well as virtual desktop solutions like VMWare and Citrix. So for the right person needing to get the right work done, DeX should be fairly compelling.

Continuum

The launch of DeX is both a good and bad thing for Microsoft, depending which angle you approach it from. The good, of course, is that Microsoft is one of the world's largest software companies, and it has to be smart business getting onboard with the single largest selling smartphone that doesn't have an Apple logo on it.

The bad is that one of Windows 10 Mobile's distinguishing features, Continuum, is diluted somewhat by Samsung's goliath phone. The Galaxy S8 will sell tens of millions of units again over the next 12 months and beyond, and even the most optimistic fans of the platform must admit it will dwarf Windows 10 Mobile sales. The potential reach of DeX is much wider, though it's hard to say whether it's more appealing to enterprise buyers than something such as the excellent HP Elite x3.

Only time will tell, but competition makes all parties involved stronger. And Microsoft is already coming into this mobile computing revolution from both sides.

Check out more Samsung Galaxy S8 coverage on Android Central

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

423 Comments
  • Oh, Windows 10 mobile and continuum...you've been too slow
  • Always the case. Lack of focus and execution.
  • Microsoft has a bad habit of wanting to perfect things - yet never seems to accomplish that - to such a degree that by the time they feel it's where they want it to be, it's been surpassed by the competition. It clashes so completely with their overall Windows 10 SaaS regular updating that I have a hard time comprehending what's going on with their mobile division, other than remaining silent.
  • I say MS showed their hand too early with the continuum technology, so other companies saw this and started working on it for at least the last year, maybe 2, but under cover so that they had a more polished product when it finally was revealed. Samsung has now come out with their version. So we have this...MS showed Continuum too early and with no app support, and it was a mess. Now MS supports the DeX with their awesome Android apps. Google will build up their next OS or 2 with a similar feature so that it can be deployed on multiple phones, and Samsung wont need DeX anymore. In the meantime, Microsoft is still trying to dig mobile out of its trench. Sigh...a tragic comedy that is a sequel to Blackberry.
  • You nailed it. I think Microsoft rushed the release of Continuum before making apps available on the platform.  Android supports termux, which is basically a Linux distribution with apt-get commands so you can install all kinds of software needed when you're in a desktop.  If bash for Windows was available in Continuum and Microsoft has a cool source code editor with autocomplete for most programming languages, I think they can compete with Samsung. Lets wait to see if Windows 10 on ARM lets the Linux subsystem run on a Windows phone device.
  • Windows 10 on ARM is certainly one of the things that can save Continuum, especially if Microsoft is pushing for the "PC replacement" aspect for businesses. It might very well end up that DeX ends up being more consumer-grade while Continuum ends up being more business-grade if they're really going for that angle, with x86 emulation, etc.
  • I agree completely. Look at the Surface/Surface Pro. Microsoft was smart that they kept it close to their chest. We see lots of 2-in-1s now but imagine if Microsoft leaked the Surface Pro 6-12 months prior. Things might have ended up a lot differently.
  • honestly, i think their hand was forced. this was always going to happen. the motorola atrix tried it, but didn't do to well. so, this concept was inevitable. microsoft had a somewhat working version and decided to be first as opposed to running a me-too later.
  • S8 will have facial recognition as well. It's as if Microsoft and Windows Hello never existed.
  • Technically, the S8 will be the first to have facial recognition on a mobile phone.  The Lumia 950/XL has an Iris scanner instead.
  • It will be interesting to see how this works then. The problem with facial scanning is people holding up photos to fool the system. Microsoft embedded infra-red into the technology to get around this. What are Samsung doing?
  • Android phones have had face unlock for many years. All the way back to 2011. https://thenextweb.com/google/2011/10/20/can-androids-new-face-unlock-fe...
  • Microsoft is always slow Samsung is the leader, this is the future and I am happy with my S8 preorder. BYE WP never again
  • @Pappale I could make a house payment with what I would spend on one...hope you can make do for the next month ;)
  • The S8 cost $50 more than the Elite X3 did at launch, I think he'll manage.. ;)
  • the elite x3 isn't the only windows phone with continuum...
  • Do you promise to continue to troll these boards?
  • Hmmm... Can't wait to see all the Android forums full of Pappale's constant ******** once he gets his S8 - although I'm guessing it won't stop him from continuing to ***** on the WM forums as well.
  • Enjoy your Hibachi S8!
  • Bye.
  • Nice bait, on this site it will work
  • Plus more apps than you know what to do with!
  • This is the end isn't it... MSFT has screwed up a nice opportunity.
  • Give it atleast 60 days for the units to get out there.  Hopefully Samsung has it all together with this for their sake.  But I do not see where Microsoft lost anything. 1. It is a Samsung proprietary app/service on their hardware. Unless you are a Samsung fan, I do not think people will just flock right to it. 2. It is Android. 3. Microsoft has been there and doing this already. 
  • Assuming the s8 don't blow up.
  • No galaxy has ever blown up.
  • Only because those rebels blew up the Death Star... twice.
  • This. This was very good :D
  • Why downvote...it's true.  NO GALAXY has blown up.
  • I seem to remember there was something called a Galaxy Note 7.... wait, did it blow up? Why yes it did!
  • They NEVER BLEW UP...they did Catch on fire but there was no explosions....get facts straight.
  • I think people are taking the proverbial Steve, lol! Even your post has been down voted!
  • Galaxy Note 7. S7 Edge also had some isolated issues. Your statement is not true
  • For people who want to or have to stay in the W10 ecosystem, this is a non-event.  RS3, CShell, wireless Continuum, UWP, deep integration and synchronizatiobn with W10 are very important for me.  The Cellular PC solution is far more strategic in the long term.  DeX, however, can put some pressure and swing some potential iPhone 8 buyers.
  • MS fcked up with that continuum crap, with no multi window support ,lack of apps and horrible UI and performance.
  • No, they have retrenched a nice opportunity. There is a big difference. I don't know what that difference might be, but we are assured it is a big one. I'm sure MS will let us know what the plan is any moment.
  • Yes, everyone blames Ballmer for screwing up tablet and mobile, this time Nadella screwed up Continuum. The fact that Microsft supports DeX tells me enough.
  • Of course they support it - you will need to be a Office 365 subscriber to use it, and my assumption is that MS makes far more $ off those customers than the couple million people hanging around using W10 Mobile
  • Samsung wants to sell devices - phones, TVs, monitors. Windows 10 on ARM is coming, and maybe we see a partnership growing? Samsung is training a global population on a new device form factor at their expense and Microsoft's benefit.
  • How is it to Microsoft's benefit for Samsung to create an Android desktop platform? When developers start making desktop apps for Android? Sounds like the exact opposite of what would be good for Microsoft.
  • lts beneficial because developers will start to take smartphones more seriously.  Because where before they would look at smartphones as "toys" good only for games and social media, now, they will consider making serious apps ofr these devices.  Business will consider starting moving to smartphones for knowledge and clerical workers, and Microsoft already fully supports mobile software, so, in a way, they are in a very good position to take advantage of this shift.  So more money for Microsoft.   Furthermore, other developers might start using their Xamarin development tools  because it looks like they will be able to code Android apps to be more responsive to depending if its running on the big screen or not.  And if developers use their Xamarin tools, its a lot easier to make a Windows version of the app.  And as previously mentioned, app developers will never look at mobile apps the same way again, so future productivity apps will be built mobile-first, and thats ok for Microsoft because UWP is basically mobile apps anyway and that will all be available on desktop.    
  • Ballmer didn't screw up Mobile but the infighting of those oppose to Microsoft going mobile. Nadella has it along for the ride but has not made it a high priority but give greater priority in supporting the major platforms to keep Office as a front runner.
  • I dont think this is the end actually. Sure, maybe its the end of Windows 10 mobile phones but we knew that already. But this is the begginning. This validates what Microsoft did with continuum and shows that Windows 10 using CShell to go to mobile form factors is another great idea. If Office is already set up for this phones MS knew about this already. Potentially worked with them to help create it. To me, this is the beginning of a new form factor coming and Microsoft is right on the curve with this. Some place they havent been in a while in mobile... :) ​Also, it runs android. Having used OSs like RemixOS Android on desktop isnt the same as a desktop at all (aside from look). Android is a phone platform first and formost. Their tablet OS has failed to appeal for years and no traction as a desktop OS yet so we will see... 
  • That depends how powerful Continuum is when Microsoft release the next big mobile device. DeX looks excellent and improves greatly on the current public iteration of Continuum with windowed apps, desktop shortcuts and drag-and-drop, and a far more mouse-friendly File Explorer. But there's still so much more that can be done to bridge the gap between DeX and a true Windows desktop, and Microsoft needs to take advantage of that.
  • its been DEAD...NOT slow.....
  • Now the hate comes....here it comes Microsoft.  Blame Satya.
  • Slow? They have products out there on the market for over a year now. Unpopular doesn't = slow.
  • Implementation was slow and wrong... and Nadella is to blame.
  • Shut the **** up
  • the irony when Windows's Continuum doesn't support actual windows but Samsung's Android DeX does.
     
  • "Windows's Continuum doesn't support actual windows but Samsung's Android DeX does."   Huh???  From the article it say Microsoft Office is compatible with DeX.  Microsoft would be stupid to shun all Galaxy S8 users from using Microsoft Office.  They're not Google or Apple...  By the way, last I checked Office also works in Continuum.
  • In DeX ypu can run full Office using virtualization technology. Continuum only supports Office UWP apps lacking crucial functionality. The article is wrong, when it says it can run only Android Apps. It can run everything you can run on your PC using virtualization technology. While in Continuum you can run almost nothing. Besides: with DeX you can have multiple windows and you cant do that using Continuum.
  • You can put complete office through virtualization on Continuum.
    The office on dex is an app but with the ability to adapt to big screens and not only scalable (aka 99% of android apps)
    HP offers a full service of virtualization on their servers/cloud.
  • Yes, HP offers virtualization. But that is not standard on Continuum. It's impressive Samsung manages to beat Continuum with one single blow. They are offering a better Windows Mobile than Windows Mobile. There are almost no apps for Continuum, not even Microsofts own apps (except for Office). Who do you think wins? HP with their 100 or so sold phones or Samsung with 70 Million? Who do you think will come out as winner and who will stop selling phones? Microsoft just wasnt fast enough. Once again.
  • Do already tried dex?
    Do you know the real number of HP on enterprise market?
    Hum... Looks not
  • It would be surprising if HP hit 5 digits with the Elite X3. No way they moved more than a few thousand.
  • Lol. I worked in mobile sector for years and still have contacts there. Its almost impossible to sell Windows Devices now. Actually, all customers are porting their applications to Android. My old employer had to hire more Software Engineers just to port Windows to Android Apps. I know what DeX is doing with Citrix. I dont need to try it, I know how Citrix works. And yeah, I know how many x3 HP has sold.
  • Lmao how many times are you trolls gonna recycle those accounts?
  • One of the good things about DeX is that we'll see whether consumers will tend to use such functionality. If they do not, then Surface Phone has one more problem, because we talk a lot about this function, but above all, we do not know if people will use it as much as we think.
  • It people are not gonna use lagdroid simulating a desktop on a single phone it doesn't mean the same functionality, with better implementation, security and reliability won't be adopted
  • I hope that by "better implementation, security and reliability" you do not mean Continuum. There is no such thing, not even after 2 years. And this is not just about DeX, it's clear that Android will invest in this functionality and it will delivery to consumers. All that Microsoft is doing now is more a proof of concept.
  • Microsoft simply has Mobile along for the ride and has not made it a focus level like us consumers. Samsung has a higher focus on mobile than Microsoft so it's not really hard to see the development of Dex which allow  independent progressing along this line of functionality...
  • Always the bridesmaid
  • That's ingenious comparison... U have an iq of some advanced alien race..
  • "The biggest drawback, if you can call it that, is that it only runs Android apps." Seems like that's an improvement over W10M/Continuum, given that Continuum only runs W10M apps and there are more apps available on Android. 
  • Windows 10 apps are Windows 10 apps. DeX does not run Windows 10 apps.
  • Yes and no. The desktop version of Word doesn't work in Continuum (yet, if ever) because it isn't a UWP. 
  • But the UWP version of Word is a desktop version, so it does run a desktop version. Once the old version has fully moved over to UWP there'll be no confusion.
  • Come on, you're smarter than that. You know I mean the non-Store, fully featured version when I say "desktop" version. 
  • Of course, but my point is that to refer to the old platform's app as the 'desktop' version implies the UWP version is just for mobiles which is a big misunderstanding of the new platform. Once the migration is complete, there will be only one version. I'm sure you know that's what I'm saying though?
  • No worries! MS will create android version of the apps for Dex! And Android has so much more developers, so no worry that Dex will get left in the cold like the dead horse Continuum.
  • There is worry actually. Devs havent made a lot of good tablet apps much less apps tailored to desktops. Not many people use Android apps on Chromebooks even though they can. Because the apps are made first and foremost for phones. 
  • I'm flattered. Made my day. #tileart
  • Richard,  yes...but.......when there are no windows 10 apps....the android wins every time!
  • Richard doesn't get it...
    Makes me so sad.
  • Like 90% of the fanboys here too spazz (love the name btw!).  They all tout pinning mobile sites?  what the F&#K is that?  its not 1994. 
  • it's their only way to still defend MS and that pathetic win10mo OS. Another few months and they will say why do we need apps and browsers for? you can call and sms on your device, isn't that enough :)))
  • Android never wins, not for the end user, not for oems, only for google
  • Nope, instead it has far more Android apps. W10 apps are a joke, there is almost nothing in the windows store worth installing, Web browser works better for most tasks.
  • Actually there are a few good ones.
  • I have yet to see a windows10mobile/phone/PHONE app work better than the equivelant android/IOS verison. 
  • A few. Literally three.
  • Lol the 4th account from the same troll
  • If your including me in this statement you are wrong there little fanboy.
  • I think Edge is best thing about windows mobile.
    I wish they would release it for Android.
  • Yup sounds about right. Android's tablet app scaling might not be great but it'll blow Continuum away, especially if applications can be windowed... I'll be doing some research on this...
  • Android still has some issues with scaling, but if Microsoft and Adobe leveraged some of the new API's from Android Nougat - specifically, window re-sizing - it should work decently well.  I still don't see the merit in using this (or Continuum) over a laptop/desktop though. 
  • Not everyone has the money or the inclination to buy multiple devices, especially when mobile devices now have desktop-class processors.  It just seems like a waste of money, resources and time to switch to a different device just to have a larger screen. Your question is similar to people in the 90's asking why someone should need a laptop computer when desktop computers are so much more powerful.
  • Right, but with laptop docks costing as much as a real laptop (the HP Lapdock is $600), why not buy a real laptop?
  • The HP Lapdock is admittedly overpriced - but it is a business solution, not something for consumers. Of course the bigger picture is once you've bought a lapdock you'll rarely need to buy another - it's hardware upgrades with your phone.
  • Windows 10 Mobile apps made for Continuum only, further diminishing the usefullness of Continuum. No idea why Microsoft didn't allow Continuum to run non-Continuum apps in a fixed size, in a similar manner to how iPad runs iPhone-only apps.
  • I totally agree
  • "No idea why Microsoft didn't allow Continuum to run non-Continuum apps in a fixed size, in a similar manner to how iPad runs iPhone-only apps."
    It's a checkbox, basically, for devs, if they want it. ONLY issue is the app needs to be native UWP, not off 8.1 e.g. Slack (beta) or using Centennial. It's like any UWP can go to Xbox too, it's not hard, it's up to the devs if they want it there. End of story. Have you used Continuum? I'm guessing not because most UWP/Win10 apps DO work with it. I'm not sure you understand what's going on here. If the UWP scales it works in Continuum. That's it. You do want some mouse/cursor controls, but it's not a scaling issue. Scaling is a problem for iOS and Android, not UWP, where it's basically free when you make the app.
  • Why wouldn't an 8.1 app be able to run in Continuum if it can run on the phone screen? That just seems weird.
  • I think that was more along the lines of what I meant. Even an app that was built for Windows pre-UWP should be able to run on Continuum, if it runs on the phone anyway. That's my non-engineering take on it, mind you. :)
  • I actually use Continuum more than most, though that might not be saying much. But clearly the developers of the apps I use have not checked that box because a lot of my Start Menu is blacked-out, even on apps I know are UWP. I _am_ seeing more that work with Continuum, but still not tons of 'em. What I'd really like is for Microsoft to add a filter to the Store so I could specifically seek out potential alternatives to apps I might already use that would work with Continuum. Fingers crossed.
  • Scaling is even more free in Android, it doesn't even require a check box. Developers can also create custom UIs for their apps that are displayed according to the screen size if they want. This has been available since Honeycomb and has been constantly improved. Samsung might even be able to entice developers into properly implementing it. https://developer.android.com/guide/practices/optimizing-for-3.0.html
  • That's generally how it works since Windows 8, isn't it? Or am I misunderstanding? (Granted, I'm talking Windows in general, not specifically Windows Mobile. Just saying that the general concept is there, I think. And I've seen that extended to apps I run under Continuum - they scale up on the monitor usually in a completely different UI than on the phone. Same way as if you stretch out certain Windows Store apps on the desktop.) Again, I might be just confused. :D
  • Yeah lol but why would someone want to use that crap?
  • I know right,  the android system is much better than the windows version.
  • Yes, and with the tens of milions of Galaxys sold in the next months, I can see this feature helping in a big way the upcoming ChromeOS with support for Android Apps.   Well done, MS. Well done. [/s]
  • Microsoft are pretty much writing their own death certificate at this point. They're eager to gain back market share but keep forgetting about the consequences of handing their unique selling points to competing operating systems. 
  • They're eager to gain back market share
    What gives you that impression, their enthusiastic "retrenchment" or lack of any meaningful updates to their mobile OS? 
  • I wasn't necessarily talking about the mobile OS, it's pretty obvious they have let that ship sail
  • Ah but they aren't competing operating systems are they? You're forgetting that MS has retrenched, so no probs right?
  • Actually, I think Office was already optimized for chromebooks...
  • Kinda. It's still not an ideal experience, but that's because the Android app layer on ChromeOS uses Android 6.0.1 API's, so there's no resizing or moving application windows around. 
  • And that android apps are optimized to a desktop environment? Or just scaled and get pixeled, bad usability, etc?
    Guess not
  • With in 1-2yrs Samsung reached MS. S9 will be more features packed with dex experience.
  • And because it's android,I can see someone doing a skin pack or a Win10 style launcher for DeX. Like there already is for android phones.
  • What's problem with skin or android. As android has more apps. I just want to see if apps work as meant for this environment with keyboard and mouse.
  • Android was designed from the start with keyboard and mouse (trackball).  Originally it was not capable of touch.  Google bolted touch onto Android once iPhone came out.
  • The way the things are going, I'll be not surprised if Microsoft itself would be the one to publish this launcher on Play Store...
  • But does it offer live tiles?
  • Lol an even worse symbian-like **** in 2017
  • WHat?  the S8 already has many features in the DeX space...and it will continue to evolve before sales start!
  • HP's only hope for w10m, somehow a bit in a tight rope. Now continuum has now a competition.
  • HP is going to move to android and develop their "DeX" system next go round....
  • Lol the crystal ball
  • No the "writing's on the wall ball".  
  • It looks more like Windows than Windows does. If Continuum had made massive leaps forward ahead of this then I wouldn't be worried but it looks like Samsung pretty much just matched it for functionality right from launch
  • They surpassed it for functionality. Desktop icons and multi window support? That's not even available to insiders on Windows mobile yet.
  • And that really nice File Explorer using drag-and-drop. Meanwhile Microsoft have some weird icon explorer with little useful functionality. Ugh.
  • Well, just found my next phone!
  • Me too. Time to put the 1020 up
  • I am waiting for the note 8....I want pen support!
  • A Note 8 with DeX sounds like a next ultimate smartphone we can have soon, while MS is still having a slow pace on drastically improving W10M Continuum experience through CShell, which is a big project and likely won'