Continuum: Microsoft has got an ace up its sleeve

In a space filled with phones of all seeds, colors and form, it's increasingly hard to stand out. Only a few companies can implement the sort of ground-breaking deep change required for meaningful differentiation.

Microsoft just showed one.

It's called Continuum. And it might just allow you to live a life without a desktop PC. Naturally, there are a few 'ifs'.

Continuum is remarkably simple. It's an extension of the direction Microsoft took a couple of years ago towards Universal Apps for Windows 10. The whole idea of a Universal App is to have one application that adapts to the screen: Microsoft Word on a phone is mostly used in portrait mode and strips many menus and other details that would be seen as irrelevant on the small phone screen, while Word on a 20-inch monitor is a totally different story. Yet, it's one app: Microsoft Word.

With Continuum, you can now connect your phone to a monitor and use the Universal Apps you already have installed on your phone in their much more comfortable and more productive large-screen versions.

At the center of all this is the new Microsoft Display Dock. This is the connection, the link between that monitor and your phone. A tiny block the size of a hockey puck, the Display Dock connects to your phone via a USB-C cable on one end and to a monitor via DisplayPort or HDMI. It also has 2 USB ports so that you can connect a keyboard and a mouse and transform this into a true destkop-like setup. You can even alt-tab between apps, once you run Continuum with a desktop and a keyboard!

If... there are Universal Apps

With all of this hooked up, you can start using Universal Apps... and that's where the clarity ends. So far we know that Facebook is 'all in' on the Universal Apps idea and is building a Facebook, Messenger and Instagram universal applications, and games like Candy Crush Soda Saga are also on board, but the question about which developers will support this idea is far from solved. Naturally, Microsoft has all of its native apps coded with the universal concept, so chances are that you will have at least the basics covered when the new Lumia 950 phones ship in November.

If... the phones are capable to carry the weight

The other big 'if' is all about performance. Will the Snapdragon 8xx series be powerful enough to handle the load? The presence of liquid cooling even on the Snapdragon 808-powered Lumia 950 is an indication that Continuum will put the chip to an exhausting test, where this will be needed. Do keep in mind that while Continuum is running on your brand new desktop-like setup with a 20"+ monitor, keyboard and mouse, your phone will still function separately so that you can text, call and just use it regularly. That's quite the load on the processor.


There are many 'ifs' around Continuum, but one thing seems certain: a huge number of people don't run AutoCAD on their home desktop PCs, nor do they edit videos in Sony Vegas or the like. Yet still, that same huge number of people is browsing the web, is on Facebook, is looking at YouTube videos, browsing through Flickr images... it's doing stuff that does not require an Intel Core chip and a separate desktop computer.

Continuum will give them the freedom to break away from the small phone screen without the need to spend hundreds of dollars on an expensive computer rig. Call it a disruption or a breakthrough, but this way - by 'killing' the desktop that the company itself created - Microsoft is liberating users.

"No single device will be a hub of activity forever," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the conclusion of today's big event. And that's revealing. After years of turning a blind eye to the booming mobile market and after years of denial under former executive Steve Ballmer, Microsoft seems to have finally accepted the truth about this new world, where consumers' first and often only computer is actually a phone. Continuum comes as a result of this new understanding from Microsoft and it opens a new door of innovation, a new and brighter future for phones. 

And this time, Microsoft has taken the lead - even Apple and Google have not yet dared or had the capacity to put the phone on the high 'desktop' pedestal. 

If Continuum succeeds, they will need to catch up.



1. Ikechukwu

Posts: 250; Member since: Oct 03, 2011

Game on MS, let's see how much of my money you can take away from me

2. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

Can I have your money instead? You seem an easy pick.

24. Ikechukwu

Posts: 250; Member since: Oct 03, 2011

Shut up and DON'T take my money!!! lmao!

5. Kishin

Posts: 706; Member since: May 30, 2013

Surface book or Surface Pro 4 the 950XL is a must have for the price unlocked.

55. Cn_Se

Posts: 20; Member since: Mar 27, 2012

I wish they had opted for a wireless system, perhaps wifi AD and with wireless charger, you just put your device on the charging pad, and it connects to the monitor, wireless

3. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

This Is A Game Changer.

14. Popop971

Posts: 44; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

I'm not sure about that. I still think it will be a niche feature. Actually, many android phones can do something similar by using a MHL / HDMI cable (an old galaxy S II can do that). Of course, Continuum go further on the "real desktop" experience, but it's not something totaly new. Plus, Microsoft is pushing Office on android and iOS.

17. muhsen

Posts: 281; Member since: Jun 07, 2012

I don't think u have a full idea of continuum. It doesn't just put the android UI (or even symbian like the nokia n8) on a big screen. It creates a pc out of the screen from the phone, the whole desktop experience, all the shortcuts, the apps do fit to become a PC like applications. if u r a power user of pc, specially office, that's something big. Definitely, no phone has ever had that. Also, while the phone is powering the screen as CPU of a pc, it still operates as a phone on its own, that's an amazing added bonus.

22. Popop971

Posts: 44; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Read again. Like I said, Continuum go further on the "real desktop" experience. But that won't be enought to make it a "game changer", because people will be more about feature. The desktop experience will be only about the interface, not about ALL you can do with a real desktop PC. And maybe we'll have the same issue we saw with Windows RT : people expecting to have a full desktop experience, but actually, they can only use Modern UI app. Dont get me wrong, Continuum is awesome ... but only for people who knows EXACTLY what it is and what they can do with it. And that's why i think it will be a nich feature, not a mainstream one.

26. guest

Posts: 372; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

Intel Broxton is set to be released next year. x86 with power efficiency the matches an ARM chip with enough power to run windows. QCOM and Samsung days of dominance are numbered. Windows 10 may work with ARM based chips but it will work better with x86 based processors as that will provide backwards compatibility. Once 10nm Atom gets here it will be game over. Apple A10 is already rumored to be stuck on 16/14nm meaning the foundries are having problem making the chips smaller. The Surface 3 already runs well with X7 Cherrytrail two or three generation leaps will be awesome for mobile SoC's.

32. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

But he's right. In 2010, 2011 Motorola had a phone that could dock into a laptop. There was a hack where you didnt need the laptop dock and Moto may have tweaked it to not need it anymore themselves.That concept has been done before. Asus still has the Pad phone, I think Nokia had a desktop environment before too. Game changing in that sense? Maybe not. Game changing because its MS apps, software vs Android? Maybe.

61. Plutonium239

Posts: 1213; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

The reason the motorola phone failed was because scaling android up to the size of a laptop is rather pointless. There is simply no advantage to a larger android, not to mention Android does not work perfectly with mouse and keyboard.

25. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

But the apps dont do what the Microsoft Phone does, which is the point. Niche product? with over 1.4Billion people who use Windows, the Enterprise would be the first to likely consider such for those that are Windows-centric. The problem with most of you here is, even though Microosft has tried to sppeal to everyday consumers (which was a bad idea), Windows Phone is still designed for Enterprise/Business users. Many businesses have allowed people to bring their own phone and use basic functions like have access to email. But Windows Phone still offers benefits no other phone can match as we see with Continuum. You need to go to and understand what it really is.

31. Popop971

Posts: 44; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

And in those 1.4 billion people who use Windows, how many of them use x86 programs ? Yeah, a lot. I fully understand what Continuum is. What I'm trying to explain, is that the experience offer by Continuum, will still be a WINDOWS MOBILE EXPERIENCE adapt to a big screen and a keyboard + mouse usage. It will be great if you only do light usage, with light Microsoft Office editing. But we still have to see what we can do with this Office Mobile (cause yes, it wont be the same as Office for PC). We still have to see if we can easily manage and work on documents store on a server. We still have to see the compatibility with a bunch of external devices. Etc ... I'm sorry, but we need to think twice before we said, Continuum will replace our desktop PC.

35. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Going forward a lot of the apps will be updated to universal...there is no reason to not make it universal even if it stays a pc only app. Again, even windows phone had 'screen sharing' which is what you stated. This is not the same, and no android app was ever created to adapt to the display while running off a single device.

51. o7o

Posts: 114; Member since: Jun 26, 2009

You can already try the Office Mobile apps now on Windows 10 if you have it installed on your PC.

18. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

Meh. Not on board with the Universal app idea. With a few exceptions you'll probably end up getting applications written with mobile in mind that offer a dumbed-down feel on the desktop. Kinda like XBox/Playstation games that get ported to the PC. I think the 2013 version of Office offered a glimpse of how this could end up playing out. Not a fan.

46. justrt

Posts: 446; Member since: Jul 10, 2014

Windows on a Nokia, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8 ... All these were supposed to be changers.. Nothing yet. Let's keep our hopes up for Windows 10 mobile, Continuum and Lumia 950

4. twens

Posts: 1175; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

Big changer there MS

6. Furbal unregistered

Find a vehicle with a monitor in it and this might be any field reps dream. Could see it worked well for sales and insurance agents.

36. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013 many have bulky ass laptops taking up a crap ton of space. Pop in a thin screen, now give them a 950/xl and boom...gone are the days of the cops needing a huge laptop in the car. Or combine a 950 with surface 3...boom.

7. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

autocad? hahaha. autocad even take long time on my desktop pc. If you want to burn down your phone then you can load autocad.

37. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

liquid cooling

44. TyrionLannister unregistered

Only universal apps work with this. AutoCAD is a legacy application and won't work with continuum.

62. cdgoin

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 28, 2010

Wrong.. Autodesk is updating the software every year.. so doubtful it will be legacy long if it isnt already fixed. But cant see running Revit or and Autodesk product on a phone.


Posts: 411; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

Once again I've predict right. Once we the universal app flood gates open, market share will rise. Pocket pc is a reality we need. The messiah has spoken.

56. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

The universal app flood gates have not yet opened, and market share has not yet risen. All we have ATM are announcements. You need to wait and see how it plays out before you pat yourself on the back.

9. slannmage

Posts: 289; Member since: Mar 26, 2013

I don't see the point, you need a monitor, keyboard and mouse + a dock... Just get a Desktop PC or Laptop, it'll be better.

15. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Exactly. I get an email on my phone with Word-file attached and I need to edit it. If I don't have my laptop with me, why would I have monitor, keyboard, mouse and dock for my phone? lol

30. gazmatic

Posts: 808; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

you can edit it on your phone........ the continuum is to basically project your phone on a big screen. it's not saying that you NEED a keyboard, mouse and monitor. it's saying that IF you HAVE a keyboard, mouse and monitor you CAN connect your phone and STILL be productive. that's the point.

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