“Continuum turns your phone into a big-screen projector and a big-time productivity tool”. That’s what the marketing department of Microsoft says. A lot of media is also shouting out “Turn you phone into a PC”. But is it true? I have been working with Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile for almost a year now and I am a huge fan! I have had my frustrating moments in the insider preview program with mostly Windows 10 mobile but at the end it’s really a good OS with lost of features and capabilities.
For a project I was able to work with a Lumia 950XL with Windows 10 Mobile and a Microsoft Display Dock to use and work with Continuum and Azure Remote App. In this blog I share some of my findings and thoughts.
How does it work
With Continuum and the Display Dock you can connect your phone to a big screen, keyboard and mouse like on a full desktop/laptop. I say ‘like’ on purpose because of course it’s not the same. More on that later on.
When you connect the display dock or connect to a device with a Display Dock you have a separate screen. Everything you do there is not displayed on the phone, so it’s not duplicating a screen but more a separate desktop. Duplicating is an option to do but then you’re not using Continuum. You can also receive calls, texts and apps while continue to work.
You can also attached a USB Drive or USB Stick to the Display Dock to work on files from these media types
What can you do with Continuum
Basically Continuum is only an interface to extend your phone to a set of devices connected to the Display Dock for a richer more productive experience. For starters you can do some basic stuff like browsing the internet and read your Email, it types and reads more pleasant because of the large display and keyboard and mouse. But you don’t need Continuum to do that because everybody is used to do that on a little screen on the phone. You can use a lite version of Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Onenote to edit documents, presentations or notes from you’re Onedrive or phone. Here Continuum gives a great benefit with a bigger screen, mouse and keyboard.
You want to use it as full Windows, but you can’t
Just moments after i connected the phone and started working as if i was on a full Windows 10 device I got a Windows RT shiver…. that sounds a little bad and Microsoft needs to put some work in there to match more, but it’s al about expectations. For example,
- When you want to close a window you have to hover on the top right of the screen and wait about a second for the “close” button to appear. The same for minimizing a windows.
- With my version it was not possible to change the size of a Window or have Windows next to each other. This is something that I do all the time on my full Windows 10 devices. but I have read that it’s coming soon.
- I have installed several apps installed like Skype for Business, PDF Reader, Nu.nl App, QR Code reader, Skype and so on, but these are not Universal Windows Platform (UWP) Apps and cannot be used in Continuum. For this moment only a handful of UWP Apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote enz. and default phone apps (like Camera, Settings, Store and Onedrive) are available while working with Continuum. They other apps are ‘grayed out’ and you cannot start them on the secondary screen. When you do start them they start on your phone. Those apps will work in the future when all those apps are UWP Apps and supported with Continuum.
- The office apps are basic, but decent enough to start writing some notes, spreadsheets, presentations or documents. It’s really cool and works pretty smooth. Save them on Onedrive, OneDrive for Business or USB stick/drive and continue on other devices.
These are some examples to not threat your Windows 10 Mobile phone with the Continuum feature and a Display Dock as a full desktop or laptop yet.
Remote Desktop Preview App
Since yesterday the Remote Desktop Preview client got an update (version 857) and received some Azure Remote app options. The above statements “Turn your phone into a PC” and “Big Time Productivity tool” start have more meaning with this app, the Remote Desktop Preview client. The regular app does not have Continuum support that’s why we need the preview app. Only very recently the app is updated with Azure Remote App support. With this app you can connect to your on-premise remote desktop environment and/or your Azure Remote App environment and really use your phone as a full computer….. or more as a thin client….?
Now you have a lot of cpu power and Win 32 apps at your disposal to really start working. The Remote Desktop Preview Client is heavily in development and needs lots of feedback and support to get to a mature and user friendly app, but when it does people can use the remote desktop or Azure Remote App environments to start being productive.
Very cool…, but not a full desktop/laptop experience
It’s a phone with ARM processor that does not have all compute power, memory and disk space like a PC or Laptop. But in my opinion when you threat it as a lite tablet with big screen, keyboard and mouse you can do some very cool and productive stuff with it. The user experience between full Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile need to match more and the developers really need to spend time in migrating all apps to UWP Apps. Maybe in the next year everything is more mature and all apps are Windows Univeral Apps you get a more full PC experience, but for now my opinion is more a lite thin client/light tablet.
p.s. if you want more info about Azure Remote app check out the blog of my colleague Arjan de Vroege that is loaded with Azure Remote app info.