Windows Continuum: What happened when I used a Windows 10 phone as my PC – PCWorld

6 months ago Comments Off on Windows Continuum: What happened when I used a Windows 10 phone as my PC – PCWorld

I’m sitting at my desk on a Monday afternoon, ready to smash something. I’ve spent the past four hours trying to finish a task that usually takes less than half that time. But this isn’t a typical day. It’s the first day in a week where I vowed to work exclusively in Windows 10 Mobile’s desktop Continuum mode via my Lumia 950 instead of on my proper PC. Goodbye AAA games, traditional desktop applications, and easy multi-tasking. Hello, mobile software and a struggling app ecosystem. Why did I sign up for this again?

Because Continuum offers an interesting premise: Instead of toting around a laptop, just plug a phone into an external mouse, keyboard, and monitor to switch to a desktop-like experience.

Imagine being able to leave the laptop at home, and just grab your phone and a few cords. Then, when you’re out and about, scrounge up your peripherals and boom! Instant desktop replacement.

I’m not the only one thinking this way. HP hopes its upcoming Elite x3 smartphone will convince IT departments to distribute the handset with accompanying laptop docks for corporate drones to use while away from the mother ship. Heck, in theory home users could even ditch a separate PC completely and use a Continuum-capable Windows 10 phone as the ultimate mobile computer.

After spending seven days inside Continuum, however, it’s clear to me that Microsoft’s desktop mode on phones just isn’t ready to meet my needs.


Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum interface and Start screen when connected to an external display.

Really? I’m a truck driver?

How much computing power do I need to do my job anyway, I thought. Surely writers and reporters aren’t part of the specialized, truck-driving class of computer users, based on the analogy made famous by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. All I do is put words in a text editor, load them into a website backend, crop an image or two, and then hand everything off to my editor. Sure, I’ve got online research on top of that, but what’s a few dozen browser tabs?

While a PC—even a Chromebook—can handle my daily needs without a stutter, my Lumia 950 just wasn’t up for the task.

The core of the problem might be the software. Continuum is still in its early days and lacks some key productivity tools. For example, Continuum doesn’t support the standard Windows snap mode, which allows you to view two programs simultaneously on a single screen. That means you have to use one full-screen app at a time. Hello, Metro Week experience from the bleak Windows 8 era.

Windows Continuum: What happened when I used a Windows 10 phone as my PC – PCWorld