Microsoft will let you carry your PC in your pocket
Microsoft have just announced Continuum for Phones. It promises devices that running Windows Phone 10, when hooked up to a monitor and mouse, will provide a full desktop experience.
The implications of this are huge: truly mobile computing, apps that work equally well on any device and a lower entry barrier into IT. This ties in with their concept of Universal Apps, programs that work on all screen sizes: mobile, tablet and desktop, and this seems to be the ultimate culmination of it. It also links in with the new business model of free upgrades of the OS and free on devices of certain sizes to OEMs.
Joe Belfiore, VP of Operating Systems at Microsoft, showed a simulation of a phone running Windows Phone 10 being hooked up to a monitor, a bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth mouse where the Office apps on the phone look and act exactly like the desktop versions.
We’ve seen this before with Ubuntu and Blackberry, but those brands and their devices just don’t have the brand appeal or the user base that Microsoft does, and with Microsoft Office being the industry standard this could mean a huge uptake in Windows Phone 10 devices. Not only does this mean potentially needing only one device, it could also herald the era of a truly portable PC. This means we could see similar designs to innovative hardware like the Asus Padfone which was let down by software, namely lack of productive apps on Android. Interestingly, the upcoming Windows 10 Phones will be able to power both its own screen and an external monitors simultaneously, almost like having two devices meaning the shortcomings of a Padfone, where the phone slots into a tablet, won’t be present.
Perhaps most importantly this has big implications in ‘mobile first countries‘, developing countries where for many the only engagement with computing is through their mobile device – this could give them a cheaper mode of access to desktop computing. Indeed access to desktop computers in some countries is so low that Toby Shapshak of CNN describes that the entire continent of Africa is ‘mobile-only‘. In its efforts to dominate the market, Microsoft is arguably economically democratising technology, and that can only be a good thing.