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Xbox controller support and beaming to a PC are coming to Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile

Today at the Microsoft Build conference new details about what is coming to Continuum for phones were demonstrated on stage, and they are some significant advances.

During a session on Continuum for phone, Microsoft Program Manager Liz Threlkeld revealed three new features for Windows 10 Mobile, including:

  • Xbox One controller + Docks support
  • Ability to beam Windows 10 Mobile to any Windows 10 PC
  • Run Win32 apps like Visual Studio remotely

Xbox One controller support was shown on stage playing the unreleased sequel Shadow Fight 3. Users will be able to plug the Xbox One controller into the Dock to play the video game and any other UWP game made for Windows 10.

Presumably, you can also use an adapter to plug the controller directly into the phone as well. We'll confirm this information shortly.

Additionally, with the Anniversary update users will be able to beam their Windows 10 Mobile phone to any Windows 10 PC through Continuum. Previously, PCs could beam to other displays and phones could do the same. With this update, users can treat any PC as a dummy terminal.

Reasons for such an option include the ability to use your apps, your logins, and your data without having to install them on the other PC. For the demo, a Lumia 950 was wirelessly connected to a Surface Book. The phone's Continuum UI was then run within a window. Users can make Continuum full screen or minimize it to multitask on the PC while keeping Continuum running.

Finally, running virtualized software e.g. Visual Studio was also demonstrated. HP did much of the same earlier this year when they announced the HP Elite x3. Using a combination of Citrix was used for the demo, which let the speaker run Visual Studio, virtualized, through Continuum onto a dummy display.

Update: As it turns out, Microsoft demoed their Remote Desktop app and a new thing called Azure Remote App, which lets you run virtualized software to your phone through Continuum.

The update to Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile will arrive with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update due later this summer. Needless to say, we are very excited for what is coming next.

We'll have a hands-on demo of some of these features a bit later.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

87 Comments
  • So will I be able to stream my Lumia 640 to my Windows 10 laptop? I'm not as familiar with Continuum and what the requirements are, if any.
  • Right now Continuum only works on the 600 and 800 series chips. The 640 (XL) are not powerful enough. MS has stated that they would eventually like to bring it to cheaper hardware but I doubt it'll work for the existing low-end phones.
  • Good to know. Thanks! I figured the lower end phones couldn't keep up.
  • I hope they do too! But it makes sense right now. Even on my 950XL, my phone grows a bit warm and sometimes it has to think for a second before opening heavy apps over wired (USB-C) continuum. And that's on a 2.0ghz octacore chipset.
  • True, but SD800 and SD801 does not support it. The chip needs to have support for running 2 displays. So basically Lumia 950(XL), HP x3, and one Alcatel phone so far I think.
  • and Acer Jade Primo, as well as Japanese Neo Anus and Sony-less Vaio
  • Nearly spat my cake out when I read that autocorrect, lol!
  • Hahahaha
  • OMG, it is NuAns Neo. Geez!
    when the first announced that phone, its name did confused me for like a second
  • Continuum itself has no minimum requirements. Continuum for phones requires a phone capable of running two displays at once. I'm not certain if this feature of Continuum will require a full Continuum-able device or if older devices will be capable of at least running on PC in a windowed form remotely. If I had to guess, this is Continuum-able devices only, like the Lumia 950. Windows Central for Windows 10-Nokia Lumia 830
  • NuansNeo also is there but with wireless continuum only. I think by saying continuum they meant wired and wireless both type of continuums.
  • There's a poorman's version of this available to older phones already via the project my screen app running on a PC. It accepts clicks from the PC's mouse, but doesn't accept keyboard input from the PC, which is a shame. Only solution on older hardware currently is to use a bluetooth keyboard.
  • Run Win32 apps like Visual Studio remotely
    ZOMG! YAAAAAS! *can barely contain excitement*
  • You will still need a pc turned on and connected and since it's 1 phone 1 pc I fail to see the benefit. Imho I think that it would be cool if they could make it so that more phones can connect to 1 pc as you already have multiple desktops.  
  • And what happens when another user tries to make changes to stuff you are working on? How would conflict be resolved? Then again, a lot of applications do not allow second instances to be open.
    Multiple desktops though have nothing to do with the topic. They are just a window management feature, not separate instances of Windows. Posted from Bikini Bottom via my Shell XPS 13
  • Multiple accounts or something....
  • if Microsoft gives us an RDSH app we would be good to go.
  • Remote Desktop Preview for Continuum has been around since January 12 though. Posted from Bikini Bottom via my Shell XPS 13
  • and it will work with RDSH?
  • I don't think you can use the phone as a host, if that's what you're asking. Though, some basic features are available from the Device Portal (USB/LAN connections). Posted from Bikini Bottom via my Shell XPS 13
  • I just tested from the preview remote desktop app in continuum on my phone and was able to hit two clients RDSH servers. this did not work last time I tested on the non preview ver. I wish I would have known about the preview app before today.
  • But if you don't have a PC to remote desktop into, you have the apps virtualized in the cloud and can run them in continuum.
  • This!  The possibilities...
  • Do you mean you want the phone act as a HOST? I doubt that would be possible any time soon.  ​but if just use Continuum on phone as Thin-client, then RDC(preview) already can do so, I can actually connect to my university's RDSH server and run program there, as well as remotely run things on my desktop or surface PRO at home .
  • "Reasons for such an option include the ability to use your apps, your logins, and your data without having to install them on the other PC. For the demo, a Lumia 950 was wirelessly connected to a Surface Book. The phone's Continuum UI was then run within a window. Users can make Continuum full screen or minimize it to multitask on the PC while keeping Continuum running."
  • You don't need a PC. You just need to have your phone connected to a display like TV or monitor. These are considered dummy displays too. The beaming is a separate feature. It's simply an app that runs the virtualized version of Visual studio. An app you launch but the grunt of the work is done on the cloud so your phone doesn't need to have an x86 chip. And since the UI is created for PC's you can only use it in continuum mode.
  • I will move all my heavy lifting to the cloud if MS can make virtualization easy via a subscription service like Office 365.  Everything.  Cloud.  Always.  Please!
  • This stuff is available today via Azure. There isn't much it can't do.
  • Latency for gaming is really the only thing I'm waiting for Microsoft to figure out, and I think they are figuring it out pretty quick with the game streaming to the Xbox app in Windows. If they can get that working on Continuum through the Games app on the phone, and if I can stream games from my PC to my phone fluidly (either through a wired RDP session, or some other optimized way, like the Games app), there will be very little need for me to have a PC visibile in my office. Just let me put it some place quiet and cool, and connect to it remotely for everything I need.
  • Yea but it's still expensive. Renting the cloud based computer power.
  • Much cheaper than buying and running your own hardware and software OS licenses. Plus you can turn it on and off at will.
  • Sorry I was looking at Azura (or how it's called) can you point me to that cheap server rentals?
  • Unless the PC is on, connected and at home or office, then all that power to run Win32 apps can be used from a remote connection! Basically what HP showed with the Elite X3 but with your own hardware!
  • You don't need a PC, that's the whole point of continuum, you only need a screen. I didn't see the presentation, but I assume they used a surface book since they had no direct connection between the phone and a large display for the audience. 
  • Maybe you could buy Skype minutes for Azure cloud computing time, and store work in OD?
  • Still waiting for TMO WiFi calling and VoLTE on unlocked devices.
  • Probably won't happen. I believe the app uses native code and therefore requires a T-Mobile specific firmware. I found the file and tried sideloading it and it wouldn't load on my unlocked 950 XL, nor my old unlocked 1520.
  • Microsoft hasn't unlocked it on tmo branded phone for W10m yet so it should work when Microsoft gets around to fixing or adding.
  • Ummmm, it's no longer an app..... Looks like I might as well just get a newer Nexus phone or an unlocked iPhone. Hell, even the unlocked A9 and Priv have it!!!!
  • Band 12 phones like the 950 and 950XL has diminished the need for WiFi calling
  • all the 640s I have get better service then my 950 & 950XL do on tmo
  • Band 12 doesn't help when you're traveling overseas, or are anywhere T-Mo doesn't have native coverage.  It's still important.
  • Band 12 works on the 950(XL)? Last time I used it with a TMo SIM, Band 12 wasn't working.
  • Yeah.... Except when you ONLY have band 12 data coverage.... Then how do you make calls?
  • Sorry, I don't swear very often but F**K YES! This is exactly the next step I was hoping for with continuum. 
  • Yeah but I would have liked to have brought this to my aging Surface RT, can't see it happening though
  • I was wanting the same thing but cheaper tablets do more these days anyway. I still use mine a few times a month but not as much as others I have now that run full Windows.
  • Surface RT supports remote connections out of the box. So nothing new for Surface RT owners.
  • Yes!!! Xbox controller support, finally! Also, a UWP Citrix receiver is necessary for businesses to adopt Windows 10 Mobile and Continuum. We use all of our desktop programs as individual apps like on the HP Elite X3 and even though I have a Continuum setup at work, I cannot do any work since the WP Citrix Receiver doesn't work in Continuum. This will be huge!
  • this and Microsoft needs to make a RDSH app as well.
  • As someone said early, it's in the RDP Preview app. I use it at our company with no issues. Works great with continuum.
  • I had tested after he said rdp preview. I was not aware of the preview ver. This changes everything for me.
  • How about now we get the ability to sream from Xbox One to W10m while in Continuum? I don't know if that's useful, but it really makes sense and all the hard work should be done already with it being an universal app and the pc having the feature, and Xbox controller being supported.
  • That is exactly what I want to do. I'd love to play Killer Instinct from my phone on an external display, streaming from my Xbox One. Well, with Xbox controller support, I probably could just remote into my home desktop and play my Windows games with an Xbox controller from anywhere in the world.
  • You are grossly overestimating the capabilities of mobile chipsets' GPUs. Posted from Bikini Bottom via my Shell XPS 13
  • No we aren't. All we are doing is streaming a game. If Sony can do it with the PS4 and Xperia phones, why can't windows phones do it with Xbox?
  • "while in continuum" is the part I am referring to. The device is already driving two displays. I am not sure it can handle flawless streaming on top of that. But who knows what might be in the pipeline, maybe even a year or two from now... Posted from Bikini Bottom via my Shell XPS 13
  • My 950XL streams youtube just fine in continuum, it's not really that different except for upstream input.
  • it is just doing screen rendering. Easy for the GPU to do. The heavy lifting is all done on the server.
  • I would love to be able to plug an Xbox controller into my phone or tablet to play games.
  • OmfgggG, I have been waiting for Xbox controller support since my 920. Now we get it and the possibility of playing on large screen. MS, you made me wait but it was worth it.
  • Looking forward to this and hoping we see it on Insider builds first
  • Why dont they release a Continuum like update for Surface so the Surface 1 and 2 users can finally have W10, even if it is just W10 mobile on the tablet
  • Because Windows 8.x RT was different from both the Windows 8.x PC versions and Windows Phone 8.x versions. Transitioning from an OS with a desktop and Windows-on-ARM applications (similar to their Win32 counterparts) to a mobile OS is difficult and not quite beneficial. There are a lot of things that Windows RT can do that W10M cannot, just by virtue of supporting WoA. And finally, Microsoft deemed that it was not worth (back-)porting any W10 features into Windows RT devices. Posted from Bikini Bottom via my Shell XPS 13
  • Any mention of Ethernet Adapter support for the dock?
  • It seemed to me to see an Ethernet connector in the Dock of the announced ne Windows HP terminal. If so, the OS is capable to do more than my 950XL. BTW yesterday I ended one week of  programming at my office, without bringing a computer. Continuum is amazing.    
  • This would be nice!
  • THIS ^
  • really sweet
  • This is better than Apple's continuity and handoff features.
  • Hahahaha, Microsoft FINALLY built the Win phone / PC interface I asked them to in October 2014..
  • So maybe I misunderstood, but would this allow me to say be on a train with no wifi, plug my 950XL (or beam?) into my laptop and use Netflix from my phone onto the laptop? Does that make sense? It's something I wanted to do on my last trip but figured I needed the dock to do.
  • Why not just share internet from your phone and then use netflix on your laptop like normal?
  • Finally XB1 controller support! That means that there are no excuses to finally enable XB1 game streaming to phones. Hype!
  • They had to leave something for Day 2/3 ;-)
  • You mean like project my screen but with more features
  • I was under the impression that you already could plug a game controller into the continuum dock...Or into a phone
  • Who cares?  More niche announcements for geeks.
  • People that care
  • Yeah, I'm waiting for the "BIG" announcement
  • Ok, now this is REALLY good news. I was hoping to be able to fling Continuum through my tablet. But will it let me use the keyboard and trackpad of the laptop/desktop to have keyboard and mouse input on Continuum? If it adds that, NexDock is NexDone, to be perfectly honest.
  • While it's pretty cool that they're broadening the Continuum experience, it would be even cooler if they'd spend more time just making the exisitng setup work better.  I've tried to integrate Continuum into my working day and it's failed miserably.  The trade offs are just too steep...Edge can't open more than 4 or 5 tabs without freezing, websites run really, really slowly (Windows Central is the biggest culprit...it brings Continuum to its knees), Outlook crashes frequently, Cortana won't work properly, the screen randomly goes blank then switches on again after a few seconds, apps just close by themselves....the list of things that don't work is extensive.  No exaggeration, but it takes nearly twice as long to do something productive on Continuum as it would on a laptop, therefore cancelling out productivity altogether.  I can't even imagine hooking up an Xbox controller and trying to do anything that requires more than basic graphics and low processing power....Hell, your lumia 950 would probably shoot itself in the head.  I really am excited about all the great stuff Microsoft is doing, but everything they produce works like a half finished beta product that they can't be bothered completing.  Before you start hooking other things up to Continuum, just for the love of God make the current one work better    
  • Oh. But I thought Microsoft didn't care about Windows 10 Mobile. (Ignore what the moaners say.)
  • Will they ever make a new phone people want to buy? 
  • IMHO, and it is just my opinion, Microsoft do appear to be taking a step back from first party devices. They have gone from a plethora of them, down to three, plus an XL. Some of the OEM devices are showing some promise, so who knows where this particular ride will take us. The 950 series are really well spec'd, but, they look and feel as if someone couldn't be bothered to make the exterior as top notch as the interior, although a judiciuos choice of cases can alter the look and feel to a standard they should have been at when released. Shame really, although saying that, the 650 looks and feels rather nice! If only they could have crammed the 9xx series internals in the case of the 650!
  • At last! The continuum set up, as it is, is a bit of a gimmick really. I love having the ability to go to clients and set up in a couple of minutes, but I feel as if it could do with a few more 'apps' to realise it's potential. As some have said above, my 950xl's and 950's do get rather toasty when running continuum. I still like the idea though, and with OEM's releasing devices with it built it, maybe, just maybe, it could see a small rise in devices being shifted. I hope acer release a set up without the monitor to make it a bit cheaper for every one, after all, if you can beam to your desktop in the anniversary release, why not do a bundle without the monitor. Yay, more snippets of good news!
  • THIS IS BIG.  Why arent u guys cheering for this