Microsoft has a lofty goal in mind, and it is very close to actually accomplishing it. Microsoft wants to bring to its customers the same computer-using experience, regardless of what sized screen you happen to be viewing it on. Its efforts have brought forth Continuum to the Windows 10 Mobile experience, and it’s a pretty sweet ride.
Continuum, for those who are not aware, is the idea of using your phone as the CPU of a computer, which is connected to a monitor, mouse and keyboard. All the functions are actually taking place on the phone, but you’re getting a desktop experience while doing it. This makes your phone the ultimate device because regardless of the task, your phone can handle it. No more are your apps constrained to a screen or an input paradigm. If fingers and a virtual keyboard will work better, use them. If mouse and keyboard is a better option, use them. It simply doesn’t matter in the world of Microsoft.
This is the very definition of a differentiating feature. No other phone does this. Some in the past have tried. The Motorola Atrix comes to mind. But that was never a really viable solution for a number of different reasons, most notably, the excess hardware you had to buy/tote around with you. With Continuum, you’ll be able to plug into any monitor/mouse/keyboard, so you don’t have to lug anything with you. This is a powerful experience.
The best thing about this is that everything is being done on your phone, which is the ultimate in portability. Your phone goes with you everywhere, so your work should too. Of course, we’re not talking exclusively about work either. You can take your games, your movies, and your life with you and just plug in wherever you can to get this experience. It’s like bringing a desktop with you everywhere. That’s hard to beat.
Same, but different
Probably the best part about all of this is that the experience is going to be exactly the same if your on a phone, or a computer. It simply won’t matter. If you know how to use one, you’ll know how to use all. There will be no learning curve or disconnect while switching between platforms. It’s all designed to work together. Most of us have already bought into the Microsoft ecosystem in one form or another. All around the world, if you’re on a computer, it’s a good bet that it’s running Windows. So buying into the Windows culture and ecosystem on your phone is a pretty easy decision. No one else does this.
There is another company that is doing something not dissimilar – Apple. Apple’s Continuity feature allows you to do much the same thing, but it is done within the device’s native ecosystem. Apple argues, you shouldn’t use a phone like a computer, because it’s a phone. Rather, if you pass the data seamlessly between devices, you can use them all the way they’re meant to and simply use the one that fits your needs best. It’s not a crazy idea.
Plus, one of the hurdles for Continuum is you need the monitor, mouse, and keyboard from somewhere. If you’re on a train, you’re obviously not going to have them with you. Even if you’re at a friend’s house, it’s not like you’re going to shut down their computer and hijack all of their peripherals just so you can fix a typo on a PowerPoint. It’s really not very feasible. If you plan to maintain a Continuum workstation at work and at home, and just carry the phone in between the two, then that makes sense…until your spouse wants to play Freecell while you’re on a conference call.
What needs to move?
Maybe, it’s not the experience that we need to move from device to device. Maybe it’s just the data. Maybe we can have a ton of different devices – even devices from different ecosystems – and get them to all work together the way they should. Maybe the true answer is somewhere in the middle.
What do you think? Continuum is definitely a differentiating feature, but is it enough to pull you away from a different phone? Is Continuum the answer that we’ve been looking for? If you had it, would you use it? These are all very interesting questions and they don’t necessarily have great answers. So let’s all put our heads together down in the comments and let’s see if we can figure this out.