back to article Microsoft’s Continuum: Game changer or novelty?

Microsoft’s Continuum is one of the spookiest computing experiences you can have. Either plug a phone into a dock, or turn on a nearby wireless display and keyboard, and the phone doubles up as an ersatz Windows PC. No more lugging a laptop around. Back in January, we described Continuum reviewers as sharing the surprise and …

  1. Richard Wharram

    Ubuntu?

    Comparison to their offering?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Ubuntu?

      The shame about the various Canonical developments of Ubuntu for mobile devices and working, is that they have not released a version to market, even though the demonstration builds worked well enough on a few select handsets, to be released and to have the community progress the development.

      Because then we really could be saying that MS are playing catchup....

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Ubuntu?

        is that they have not released a version to market

        There have been two Bq handsets, the second definitely support Convergence (both now unavailable due to selling out of stock), a tablet from Bq (still available), and two phones from Meizu (none were widely circulated mass market wise).

  2. Franco Silver badge

    I like Continuum and if more apps appear it will get better and better. I've actually used it more for entertainment than business though, and I can it being a useful travel device. BT Sport works, so last week when I was at my cousins house I connected via Miracast and watched the MotoGP on her TV. Netflix isn't a UWP yet but works flawlessly through Edge. iPlayer is a UWP and works.

    1. fung0

      Cunning Stunts

      If Microsoft could have pulled this off with Win32 applications, it would have been truly impressive. Doing it with a whole brand-new type of app - essentially, with a whole new OS (UWP) - is neither impressive nor particularly useful. It's just a stunt.

      Compare what Google is doing with Android N. With expanded mouse-and-keyboard support, and the ability to display multiple apps simultaneously, Android will soon be able to do what Continuum promises. But it will be bringing along the entire gargantuan galaxy of existing Android apps. Hence, much more than just a stunt.

      Bottom line: Google is steadily expanding the reach of Android, increasing flexibility in device support. Whereas by pushing a whole new type of app (ironically named "universal"), Microsoft has decreased flexibility and user choice.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Cunning Stunts

        "Android will soon be able to do what Continuum promises."

        and 'stunningly' so. I look forward to an Android desktop, so long as it lets me use my favorite desktop manager (like Mate or Cinnamon) with a 3D skeuomorphic theme.

        of course, Android DOES look a bit more skeuomorphic than does Win-10-nic, even on a phone. They weren't compelled to change everyone to flatso 2D FLUGLY.

      2. MarkElmes

        Re: Cunning Stunts

        X86 apps can be converted to UWP apps?

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I've actually used it more for entertainment than business though

      Colour me unimpressed.

      I can already connect my S5 to any HDMI device with a cheap adapter and I recently used Miracast / WiFi share on a friend's TV the other day. Fantastic for entertainment.

      Samsung have been experimenting with this kind of thing for years (my Galaxy Tab 8.9 came with a "multimedia" dock) including support for multi-windows and alternative input methods. It wouldn't surprise me if they aren't the first with some kind of phone / TV / Chromebook setup. And we can assume Apple won't be far behind with its own extremely dedicated market.

      Microsoft is going to pull something extremely remarkable out of the hat for this get any real traction. Otherwise UWP apps on Android might be the best they can hope for.

  3. EvilGardenGnome

    The dock is the key

    I said it in other venues, but I'll add it here. Sell docks with desktop CPUs (and SKUs with GPUs) and use the phone for storage. With some tricky engineering you should be able to get the device to run desktop apps ONLY when connected with a dock. Until that happens, Continuum is all potential without anything to show for it.

  4. kryptonaut

    16x

    Is an octocre chip sixteen times better than a mediocre one?

    1. Richard Plinston

      Re: 16x

      > Is an octocre chip sixteen times better

      Generally, an Octocore has 4 fast cores (for speed) and 4 slow cores (for battery life) and switches between these sets so that only maximum of 4 run at any one time, and some of those cores are shut down if not required.

      As it only runs one UWP at a time, plus the UI, it may be that not all 4 cores are kept active.

      1. Benno

        Re: 16x

        Correct, but do take note of the deliberate spelling errors next time. You ruined the joke :)

  5. David Tallboys

    I think this should have been Microsoft's ace (at least for those of us for whom boring spreadsheet and document editing is what I want rather than social media stuff), so it seems silly to me that they go and kill Windows Phone just as they've got this to work well enough.

    I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and a Windows Lumia 640. The Samsung not surprisingly has a much better display and all the apps; but whenever I have a marginal signal or aggro sending emails I have found the cheapo Lumia 640 more reliable and with longer battery life.

    But am I going to pay the price for the last Windows phone just because of this now? No. (Not sure if the 640 will get the software update - anybody know?)

    Incidentally I tried using the Samsung dock for projecting to an external screen, this does give some of what I wanted but is a bit clumsy,

    1. Def Silver badge

      Windows 10 on the Lumia 640

      https://www.microsoft.com/en/mobile/windows10/#

      Microsoft says it's available, with the following caveat: Windows 10 Mobile features may vary by device. The availability of Windows 10 Mobile as an upgrade for existing Windows Phone 8.1 devices will vary by device model, country or region, mobile operator or service provider, hardware limitations, and other factors. 1.4 GB or greater download required. Wi-Fi internet connection required to install the upgrade; internet access fees may apply.

      (Edit: There's an upgrade app in the store you can try out. Link on the above page.)

    2. jrwilheim

      They haven't killed Windows Phone, only rebranded it as Windows 10 Mobile. I doubt Microsoft would go to the effort of developing something like Continuum if their intention was to kill of the mobile division altogether.

      1. Preston Munchensonton
        Coat

        Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to

        They haven't killed Windows Phone, only rebranded it as Windows 10 Mobile.

        I think most of us would say that this is splitting hairs. Also, there's probably a better argument over whether Windows Phone was ever "alive" to be killed off in the first place.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

    Samsung had their smart dock, qualcomm had a dock system, others have done it wirelessly.

    Never really took off despite some very impressive solutions.

    It just wasn't popular and a Chromebook is cheap enough that you don't really need to have a single unit as the brains.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

      Also, is this a solution that is looking for a problem? If one has to have access to or carry the extra hardware around why not just carry a laptop instead? Fewer bits to keep track of and the weight is not that big an issue.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

        When I recently bought a 950XL, it came with the free dock. Now it's sitting in a cupboard, unused. Nice idea, but involves carrying a bunch of cables and power supply to make it useful. Easier to just carry a tablet.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

          That's an odd comment about a laptop vs. the docking station. The docking station is small and very light, it only needs two cables, one to monitor and the other to the phone although I'll concede that's three with a wired keyboard. And the power supply? Well, turns out I need that to charge the phone anyway and when I use a laptop, a bigger one for that.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

        I'm quite sure the answer is "the cloud". If they can make your primary device one with little storage (it's interesting the HP device has battery but no storage), they can force you to store everything where they can peruse your data to extract precioussss info to resell. If you carry a laptop you may have plenty of local storage and even connect external one. Does Continuum supports USB?

        After all, it the same approach used by Chromebooks.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

          W10M supports USB OTG, and as of the Anniversary Update also supports USB Ethernet Adapters

      3. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

        >Also, is this a solution that is looking for a problem?

        I suspect here's where USB3 /Thunderbolt come in.

        One cable for charging and connectivity to the screen, which has a hub for other USB devices.

        I do something similar at the moment. My laptop has USB2 and DP connectors to my screen which also has DVI to my desktop. Only the USB cable needs switching to go from laptop + big screen to desktop, taking keyboard, mouse, DVD and webcam with it. USB3 would do it better, thunderbolt would be even better (higher-res, wired network).

        The trick is to make the dock cheap and hide-able-behind-the-screen... and to have a phone which can do something useful on the big screen which you can't do on the small one. That's going to be the tricky one, unless Linux on ARM takes off. I can't see Android on the desktop being much of a thing - slightly easier emailing with a keyboard perhaps.

    2. jrwilheim

      Re: This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

      The difference being the vast software ecosystem that exists for Windows. The point of this tech, as I see it, isn't just to be cheap but to free you from the problems caused by keeping all your stuff in the cloud and having to have it move between devices.

      1. Mandoscottie

        Re: This has been done with Android by many manufacturers

        @jrwilheim

        Sorry what? you realise Continuum only works with UWP written apps right? (so 15 apps if your lucky!) x86 apps do not work or supported by design.

        the rest of your post is spot on, just replace Windows for Android and a truer word has never been typed :P

        yet another idea with MS, watered down i still cant find that reason for the feature (yet)

  7. John Styles

    Oooerrr HP

    "making the beast with two docks" - is that some kind of euphemism?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Oooerrr HP

      Happy-Like a dog with two docks?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But..?

    Does it run Crysis?

    ducks for cover

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But..?

      No, but if any OEM ever does make an x86 processor based Windows phone it "could" run Crysis ...... for a few minutes till the battery runs out.

    2. Robby-O

      Re: But..?

      On a serious note, if they got Steam to develop their in-home-streaming for ARM that would be pretty cool...

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: But..?

        They probably already are. nVidia has already released one "proof-of-concept" streaming console based on their ARM platform. The graphics chips in the newer phones are probably capable of most of the work already so some kind of combination is probably possible whether it's a box with the latest and greatest GPU that syncs with the phone or details are rendered "in the cloud" is probably just a matter of bandwidth. The economics would seem to favour streaming over selling discrete units.

  9. LDS Silver badge

    HP made a Foleo???

    It will have the same fate of its predecessor (which wasn't so dummy either). Well, if it is HP to raise the chances of Windows 10 mobile, it's already more doomed than it was.

  10. MAH

    This is pretty much the Motorola Atrix solution.

  11. Shane Sturrock

    I don't get it

    I have a phone, tablet and laptop and thanks to cloud storage I have all my docs wherever I need them. Sure, there's some apps that work well on a laptop and don't have equivalents for the tablet or phone, and some which work well on a tablet and not the phone or tablet, and finally there are phone apps. It all works, and best of all I have days of battery by carrying three devices all of which can communicate. I don't want everything in one device. Heck, in this case you have a phone and then a dumb laptop style display and keyboard. Why not just have a laptop which can do so much more? I could probably live without my tablet and just have a phone and a laptop, but living only with my phone? Nope, no thanks MS.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intel killed its potential

    If they hadn't dropped their mobile SoCs, Continuum could have been a game changer for Windows Phone as it would be able to run ANY Windows application. Restricted only to universal apps that can run on ARM, it is merely a novelty.

    I think Apple would have best shot at making this work, as OS X already has the infrastructure for making fat binaries. If they added the ARM64 ISA as an automatic compiler target, it wouldn't take long for developers of major OS X applications to jump on board and the iPhone could provide a viable desktop experience. Not sure if Apple doesn't think this is a viable direction, or if they do but are afraid it would kill OS X hardware sales. OS X is already a niche, if they cut the hardware sales in half the platform's viability might be compromised before the iPhone 'continuum' could take off.

    Yeah yeah, I know Android has done this too, but it is also a novelty since Linux has almost no presence on the desktop (and I say that as someone who has used Linux as my primary desktop since the late 90s) The primary market for a feature like this, at least at first, would be business users which means the ability to run major commercial applications is a must.

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    The future of computing will be in your hands

    Eventually, your computer WILL be your phone. Monitors and keyboards and mice will be commodity and ubiquitous. Your home and work peripherals will be the custom kit.

    The phone will have the power of any modern day average business laptop of today. It will have the core OS and the virtual OS. One will run desktop workstation apps and the other the phone.

    This should happen within the next 10 years. Technical hardware wise, it's already all over but the shouting.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: The future of computing will be in your hands

      NSA & friends, and crooks, will be very happy about people using their PCs connected to "ubiquitous" devices not under the user control... are you going to trust any keyboard when you type a password or other sensitive information? Are you going to trust any monitor that displays them?

      While "ubiquitous" has still some limits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The future of computing will be in your hands

        And you know the keyboard/monitor you use at work isn't bugged, how exactly? You checked that the keyboard you bought at Best Buy or Amazon for your home computer didn't have any additional chips in them that couldn't be explained?

        Your worry already exists for people who have a real reason to worry about it, but those who think they should be concerned about this but aren't taking steps to verify the integrity of the equipment they're using now are fooling themselves.

        Besides, why bug your keyboard and leave behind physical evidence when it is so much easier to hack your PC or phone via software? That's how the NSA will target you today, and that's still how they'll target you even if you connected your phone to random keyboards in semi-public places.

  14. Updraft102 Silver badge

    No, it's not

    "...yes, your phone really is a PC."

    If it can't run Win32 programs, then no, it's not. It's a phone that can run phone apps from a typical phone UI or a more traditional PC UI. That's all.

    I've long held the opinion that a touchscreen is inferior to the traditional mouse and keyboard (and a laptop's touchpad counts as a mouse here). The touchscreen is convenient and compact, which are necessities for a portable device like a phone, but it requires compromise in UI design that is a serious step backwards compared to the traditional desktop environment. Specifically, a mouse has separate point and click events; this makes hover effects possible, and the user knows exactly what UI element is receiving the click event before that click even takes place, because he can see where the arrow is pointing.

    That gives the mouse or touchpad significant utility and precision that can never exist in a touch device where the point and tap events are combined into one event. Complicating things worse is the nature of human fingers-- they're huge (relative to a mouse pointer), they're squishy, and they are opaque. UI elements must be quite large to compensate for this lack of precision, and that in turn means hiding UI elements (which would otherwise take up valuable screen space better used for the content itself), less top-level on-screen options (often in favor of a "junk-drawer" style hamburger menu that has everything thrown into it), and other such things that are correctly considered as terrible UI practice on traditional desktops.

    That's what the UWP platform gives us. Sure, it is possible to use a touch-optimized UI with a mouse and keyboard, but just attaching those two input devices doesn't automatically reconfigure the UI to remove the compromises that had to be made for touchscreen use. A Continuum device docked into a laptop "shell" still has to run phone apps with all of the built-in compromises that make it suboptimal on a desktop or laptop. It's not a PC; it's still a phone.

    That's also why so many of us are underwhelmed by the "app" capability of WIndows 10, and why we're annoyed by the presence of "app" styled bits of the UI (like the Settings app) on our non-touch desktops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No, it's not

      I agree completely. Touch on laptops/desktops is stupid, Microsoft really screwed up when they went that direction instead of working toward Continuum back then. Maybe Intel would have been able to sell enough x86 mobile SoCs due to Windows Phone selling better that they wouldn't have had to give up and start fabbing ARM mobile SoCs to keep their fabs full!

      I remember earlier this year a guy I know who is a long time Apple hater was complaining about how far behind the Mac is, because they didn't offer any touch screen laptops or monitors. I asked him what he used the touch screen for on his home PC "I don't have one, I just have a regular monitor, but the OS is touch enabled unlike OS X!" So I ask him what he uses it for on his laptop, since he'd demonstrated how it handles touch "well, I really don't I'm too used the touchpad I guess"

      If even people who are evangelizing touch screens on PCs/laptops don't actually use them, safe to say pretty much no one is! The main thing they do is drive up the cost of premium laptops, because you have to take a feature you don't want in order to get the higher spec display.

      1. fruitoftheloon
        Stop

        DougS: No it is.... Re: No, it's not

        Doug,

        Until recently, we had a rather pleasant Lenovo U330 win 8.1 laptop with touchscreen. Which I liked A LOT.

        It kind of effectively croaked, John Lewis (respected UK big chain) gave us a 100% refund as it couldn't get sorted within the stated repair timeframe.

        Then bought a MBP, which I wish did have a touch screen.

        Btw one is commentarding an excellent 12" Samsung NotePro.

        Some folk DO like touchscreens!

        Cheers,

        Jay.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: DougS: No it is.... No, it's not

          If you like touchscreens, why did you buy a Macbook instead of a Windows laptop with touch? Whatever your reason, it seems that whatever the Mac offered was more important than the touch ability. I'd want to get off the Windows platform too if Windows 10 was my only choice...

          I don't know how you used your Lenovo, but I can't imagine how touch would be of any use with my laptop. Since the screen is not hand-held, it remains in a relatively fixed position in front of you, and you have to hold your arm up to reach the screen. It's going to get fatigued pretty fast if you're doing anything more than hitting play on a media player or something like that. And that's certainly a valid use, though most people who only want that seem to go for tablets instead.

          Still, what Doug wrote is still mostly true, as far as I can tell (I've never taken a survey or anything like that). Most people I've communicated with who use convertible devices only use the touchpad and not the touchscreen when it's docked. Of course, it's not literally true that NO ONE uses touch when other pointing devices are available, but for the most part, touch on a laptop or desktop is more about "gee whiz" appeal than any actual practicality.

          I would never accept the UI compromises to make touch work unless touch was all I had (as with tablets that are not convertible). Look at Windows 7 vs. Windows 8.0-- the former was built for mouse and keyboard with touch as an afterthought, while the reverse is true for the latter. I'm told using Win 7 with a touchscreen is nightmarish; I would certainly expect it to be far less than optimal, given that the UI was not designed for touch. Windows 8, as we all know, was rejected by the PC market because it was similarly bad with non-touch PCs, though Windows tablet and phone users largely loved Windows 8.

          Touch and mouse have different requirements, and trying to make one UI that does both is a fool's errand. The best MS could do to salvage Windows 10 would be to include two separate UIs for everything, and to select the one to use based on usage conditions and user preferences. That, though, would not be one UI for both... it would, from a UI perspective, be like bundling two separate versions of Windows together and calling it one product.

          1. fruitoftheloon
            Happy

            @Updraft102: Re: DougS: No it is.... No, it's not

            Updraft,

            I am ambi-dextrous, and found using my left hand to scroll vertically when browsing the 'webs to be just right, BUT I work from home (self-employed), hence would use the Lenovo in that manner when perched at the kitchen table.

            As you rightly point out, it's of minimal use if perched on a desk.

            The reasons for getting MBP were:

            - my existing MacPro was getting a bit old, too big for my study (I needed to fit an industrial sewing machine in too), so I gave it to my lads Primary school

            - I use FCP, Aperture and Logic studio on the Mac

            - imho Apple kit is usually well built

            - on the whole I found win 8.1 fine (running VS and Adobe CC) when it wasn't interrupting me about updates or I needed to spend too long finding where a f'ing setting was...

            Ironically the MBP is now running VS on Win 7 via parallels, with the Samsung NotePro wirelessly running as a 2nd screen, it works surprisingly well!

            Ooi I am ditching CC as it is now possible to download and (fairly) legitimately Adobe CS2 from the Adobe website FOR FREE, which is very helpful for my nascent business with less than no spare cash...

            I mentioned elsewhere that my coordination can sometimes be really bad, and touchscreens are then much easier than trackpads/tablet (I can't use a mouse for long).

            Hope that clarifies! Thanks for your input.

            Cheers,

            Jay

    2. Robby-O

      Re: No, it's not

      While I do agree with your first two points (can't run W32 native code and touch interface compromise) you have missed one important element, that the author also either didn't know or didn't mention. Particularly when they mentioned it not accepting prior WinPhone8.1 apps.

      Something important and new in UWP apps, as opposed to the previous Win8/WMobile8 apps is a layer of interface tools. These were specifically implimented to allow interfaces to change depending on what they were seen on (xbox, IoT, desktop, mobile, tablet). In fact, the app doesn't even need to close to change it's skin. It happens in real time while the app is still running.

      If an app made for Windows Phone 8.1 was allowed on Continuum, it wouldn't know what to do and just mirror directly onto the screen, either giving a tiny, phone shaped window on screen akin to an emulator (which would be near useless as it would combine the worst bits of both in clumbsy big finger buttons and tiny real-estate, rather than the best of both) or simply streeeeeaaatch out the window to full monitor size, which the author DOES mention and how ordinary that approach can be.

      These tools mean you can actively adjust the layout of your app, so on the phone it has the phone interface (which is ideal for that form factor) but when it gets goes to Continuum mode, it can do anything from minor adjustments to complete overhaul. All this without changing the coded logic of the app itself.

      So, provided the developer bothers to do so; the Continuum interface can, like Excel does, completely change it's appearance to reflect the current device's capabilities. Meaning you could have W32 era size buttons and text, etc all intended for mouse and keyboard entry when those things are available.

  15. William 3 Bronze badge

    "Samuel Johnson had for women preachers"

    Just out of curiosity why didn't you use Muslims have for Women Imams instead of "Samuel Johnson had for women preachers", given there are Women Preachers and there's zero Female Muslim Imams.

    Just curious why you'd use one, but never in a month of Sundays use the other.

    Myself, I'm athiest, I'd have no qualms using whichever idiotic ideology best suited my point. In this instance, given the facts, I'd have gone with the latter, but I understand certain politically correct shitbags wouldn't.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: "Samuel Johnson had for women preachers"

      Would be mostly a literary reference, usually considered a more refined way of expressing oneself than something that sounds like a sectarian jibe, atheist or no.

      Of course all I know about this historic literary figure is what was in that episode of Blackadder III, so I'm no more refined than the next lout.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "Samuel Johnson had for women preachers"

        >Of course all I know about this historic literary figure is what was in that episode of Blackadder III, so I'm no more refined than the next lout.

        Just to add to your knowledge of the man, Johnson was fond of insulting the Scottish and Scotland. I've yet to learn why.

        http://www.samueljohnson.com/scotland.html

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: "Samuel Johnson had for women preachers"

          "Just to add to your knowledge of the man, Johnson was fond of insulting the Scottish and Scotland. I've yet to learn why."

          - Some Englishmen need little excuse for that, in his time, probably only the second or third target after the french and irish.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "Samuel Johnson had for women preachers"

      >Just out of curiosity why didn't you use Muslims have for Women Imams instead of "Samuel Johnson had for women preachers", given there are Women Preachers and there's zero Female Muslim Imams.

      Your curiosity didn't extend to clicking the link? The alternate analogy you provide wouldn't express the nuance of the author's views.

      Johnson: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have tried Continuum using the new X3 from HP. 1) The "desktop" version is in Windows tablet mode, kind of like Windows 8, so it isn't really a desktop version. 2) As mentioned, not all of the apps work and they have to be UWP... which very few apps are. It is a novelty.

    I think Tim Cook said it well when someone asked him when Apple was going to start moving on a similar service. They don't have plans to do a converged OS because they think it will result in a compromised mobile experience and a compromised desktop experience. Jack of all trades, master of none situation. Google has the best approach I think in using two OSs, Android and Chome, but providing the same experience on both OSs with a common Chrome browser (with all your bookmarks, extensions, etc carrying over to any device) and your Play Store apps following you as well... Most people don't need the full OS to follow them, and don't really even know that it isn't, if you provide the same experience (meaning data and apps) across all devices.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Compromised experience...

      They don't have plans to do a converged OS because they think it will result in a compromised mobile experience and a compromised desktop experience.

      I'd suspect with Apple, it's partially that, but mostly a lot of people have IOS devices, more than probably have OS X devices as well, why reduce your income by giving away the latter with the purchase of the former.

      For other companies, Canonical included there is expediency in having the same codebase work across all devices. Ubuntu Core is much the same across phone to IOT, the UI will shortly be also shared by phone, tablet and desktop (once it's stable on the latter).

      I expect Google will follow suite at some point with some conjoined Android/Chrome beastie. They say they've no intention, but why harm sales and slurp in the meantime by giving people the excuse to hold off. Google have no reason to not go this path eventually, as Chrome is the center of both platforms.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Compromised experience...

        See that's the thing though, there's no reason Apple would need to do a converged OS to provide this feature. All you need is an "OS X GUI/API" app running on the phone when it is docked to a monitor/keyboard/mouse, to provide that OS X experience and provide the necessary libraries for OS X applications to run. The phone can still run iOS - iOS is basically a stripped down OS X anyway. Same Mach kernel, a lot of the same base layer. Just has some stuff added that OS X doesn't need, and some stuff removed that iOS doesn't need (at least not unless/until it is asked to run OS X applications)

        So just because Cook said what he was quoted as saying there doesn't mean that Apple wasn't already working on a Continuum like feature. Just that they wouldn't do it in the stupid way Microsoft did - compromising their desktop OS to make it more mobile like. If Apple isn't doing it, I suspect the most likely reason is because they think it could hit Mac sales pretty hard. Since OS X already has a single digit market share, it doesn't have room for taking big hits the way Microsoft's huge share would.

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Compromised experience...

        "For other companies, Canonical included there is expediency in having the same codebase work across all devices. Ubuntu Core is much the same across phone to IOT, the UI will shortly be also shared by phone, tablet and desktop (once it's stable on the latter)."

        As long as it is the underhood stuff, having a common code base would be fine. It's not fine when it comes to the UI, though. As far as Canonical goes, I would hope they would have learned something by watching MS make the same mistake (twice).

        Ubuntu has lost its former place as top Linux distro to Linux Mint mostly because of its Unity UI, which is criticized for giving up too much utility to make it touch-friendly. Mint, on the other hand, is all about providing a traditional UI experience for non-touch devices, and it's become the most popular Linux distro in the world.

        Windows 7 continues to be the most popular version of Windows, and if it was as available as Windows 10 on new PCs, it would represent a larger slice of the pie chart than it already does. Most of the 350 million WIndows 10 devices that MS touts are new PCs that came with 10 on them (~250 million). Of the remaining 100 million, a significant percentage didn't want 10, but they got it anyway. The people who actually wanted 10 are a small minority.

        By and large, people accept Windows 10 on a new PC because they perceive it as unavoidable, not because they want it specifically. They'd much rather have 7, if that were an option, and as another commenter has pointed out, they get excited when you tell them that 7 can be put on their machine. If Microsoft kept offering 7 (and keeping it up to date with security fixes) for as long as there was consumer interest, 10 (in its current form) would never be able to unseat it as top Windows version, just as 8 never did.

        Companies can keep turning out converged UIs, and the users will keep rejecting them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Compromised experience...

          In the last few days I've had a little experience with Windows 10 - I was finally getting around to building a new PC (the current one dates from 2008 and the HDMI output was starting to show signs of flaking out)

          While I run Linux, I like to keep a Windows install around 'just in case'. But I couldn't install Windows 7, it just hung. So I installed Windows 10 in a VM as a stopgap while I figured it out since I knew I'd need Windows to fix it (turns out the Skylake chipset doesn't have "legacy" USB support, so I needed to integrate USB3 drivers into my Windows 7 install image via NTLite)

          From the few hours of using Windows 10 I have one thing to say about it: It REALLY sucks. When you boot it up it is unusable for at least several minutes (sometimes longer) while it apparently does some sort of malware scan. I imagine you can turn that off, but this is the default experience people are going to have. You can't even open a freaking folder or application, and if you do manage to do so you can't do anything with them, even the close button is ignored.

          On a scale of Windows ME to Windows 7, I'd rate Windows 10 as Windows 3.0, i.e. worse than Windows ME. They really screwed the pooch with it in more ways than just their attempted data collection!

        2. Richard Plinston

          Re: Compromised experience...

          > all about providing a traditional UI experience

          Both Ubuntu and Mint, and most others, provide several DEs and Window Managers. All that is required is to select the appropriate Live DVD that has the preferred DE (Lubuntu, Kbuntu, ..., Mint Mate, ...) and/or install others (KDE, LXDE, XFCE, Gnome, Mate, ...) using the software manager (apt-get or equivalent GUI). Then whichever you want can be chosen at the login screen.

        3. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Compromised experience...

          "which is criticized for giving up too much utility to make it touch-friendly"

          - Please try not to confuse popular criticism with facts or the state it was in 2011/2012. Unity has really very good keyboard controls, personally I find it a better compromise to touch UIs than the likes of Gnome. A lot of users are eagerly awaiting Unity8, the true convergent UI on their desktops

          I'm waiting to see what KDE do with plasma with some excitement as well. Mate is a great project, keeping the popular Gnome 2 codebase running (Cinnamon too for the traditonal UI on Gtk3), but ultimately these like the other touch awkward UIs will be left behind on the dwindling traditional desktop only work orientation.

  17. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Facepalm

    You can ONLY run [CR]APPS?

    Well, if the ONLY thing you can run are [CR]APPS, then it's DOOMED to FAIL.

    I mean, WHO actually _WANTS_ a "the METRO" style [CR]APP to do anything 'full-size screen' on anyway? Oh, maybe you'll just play ad-ridden Micro-shaft games... in which case it's "ok" ?

    and full-screen STINKS ON ICE. 'nuff said I think. It's a part of what was wrong with "Ape point 0h". At least in "Ape point 1ne" you could run [CR]apps in a window like on Win-10-nic. now broken with 'Continuuuuum'

    1. Daniel von Asmuth
      Facepalm

      Do you see a welcome screen?

      The mysticest question from Redmond since 'where do you want to go today?'.

  18. Robby-O

    "One UI omission causes a minor wrinkle when it comes to closing apps down. With no close dialog button on the apps, you do this from the task switcher (Alt-Tab)."

    Actually, there is; Move your cursor to the top right corner, where you expect the close button to be, and it magically appears.

    While not obvious, it is there.

  19. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    iPhone 7?

    Can't imagine Apple haven't looked at this and gone "handover... why exactly did we just leave it there?"

  20. I am the liquor

    MailOnline

    "...a collage of ISIS atrocities and boob jobs that really belongs in A Clockwork Orange."

    Best description of MailOnline I've seen yet.

  21. Daz555

    My main gripe is the seeming inability to get continuum to select the relevant resolution for the attached monitor. It just seems to be a blurry over-aliased mess on the main screen - this is using a HDMI to DVI cable via the wired version of Microsoft's dock.

  22. Kristian Walsh

    Why no 8.1 apps?

    It's not a carrot to devs, more like the old Windows Phone apps were not built for resizeable windows, which is what Continuum looks like to your software.

    Basically, if you've got a UWP app, and it's running in phone mode, the app will see a tall portrait (or low landscape) window of a certain size; but when the OS launches into Continuum, the app's window resizes to a new, larger*, landscape size to match the connected display. To accommodate these different screen aspects, the code uses a similar system to CSS fluid layout: you define "Visual States" that your layout goes through depending on the viewport width and/or height. (Yes, this does make the UI layouts much harder to design, but that's the price you pay for flexibility)

    (* larger in terms of "virtual pixels", so the app's text and controls get smaller even though your phone display probably has more actual pixels than the desktop monitor you're attaching to)

    The problem with Windows Phone 8.1 apps is that they're designed for a fixed-size window, and there's no API mechanism to inform the app of live changes in that window's size. Also, Windows Phone 8.1's control set relies much more than 10's on touch gestures (swiping particularly) that are clumsy with mouse, as anyone who's run their WP8.1 app in the Visual Studio phone emulator can attest.

    So, rather than present a pretty crap user experience (a tall pillarbox view in the middle of your monitor, that you've got to continually drag over with the mouse to navigate) , MS disallowed 8.1 apps from using Continuum at all.

    One corollary of how Continuum works is that there's no technical limitation preventing a multi-windowd variant of it in future (to work with Continuum, apps must already support window resizing), but this would mean that the phone would have to keep multiple apps running in the active state at once, which is asking a lot of a typical phone CPU and battery.

  23. yetanotherfeckingusername

    classic shell

    I assume that I would have to look at Microsoft/Fisher Price's start menu? If I can't make the OS look like I want it i.e.with use of Classic Shell, then I don't want it. Microsoft's version of this tech is completely unnecessary, I can do everything it offers already with my phone and samsung tv. However if for some reason people find it useful, I wonder about the availability of MS Lumia type phones in the future. Every single one I've used has been awful compared to either iPhone or Android devices, but then I consider going from nice small image based clickability for menus etc to large primary colour children's toy based, space wasting, battery chewing squares. Like stepping back to the 80s, when that's all we could actually make. we thought it was cool then, now it's a terrible backward step that is 30 years out of date. we did it because we had no choice, whereas Microsoft just seem to be lazy. I guess changing your focus from customer to shareholder will do that.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It looks like

    A not so well done copy of Canonical's Convergence with Ubuntu.

  25. John Savard Silver badge

    Utility to the Consumer

    While a docking unit with a display and keyboard is a useful item, what it is useful for is letting me upgrade to the latest and greatest microprocessor and GPU without having to buy a new display and keyboard to go with it.

    If I would like keyboard and large display access to smartphone apps, then I would like to use a program on my existing laptop to talk to my smartphone for this. Not buy a new piece of hardware.

    Microsoft is forgetting why Windows 3.1 outsold the Macintosh: it let you have a GUI without running out and buying a whole new computer. It should be focused on the goal of the consumer to get more functionality for less money, not on where it wants to take people.

    Intel needs to fix the 64-bit mode so that it no longer includes the same mistake as it made with the 80286; so that 64-bit Windows can seamlessly run 16-bit Windows programs once again. There's where something needs to be fixed.

    1. Richard Plinston

      Re: Utility to the Consumer

      > Intel needs to fix the 64-bit mode

      The 64-bit mode is AMD's. They did that when Intel was trying to interest system makers in Itanium.

      > so that it no longer includes the same mistake as it made with the 80286;

      The 'mistake' with 80286 was entirely the fault of MS-DOS programmers (including Microsoft) who did segment manipulation. The 80286 worked fine in protected mode with other operating systems, such an Unix, Xenix. Even Microsoft had a multi-tasking 80286 operating system in MS-DOS 4.0 and 4.1 (not to be confused with the much later 4.01). It failed because most MS-DOS programs used poor programming techniques.

      OS/2 was also OK on the 80286 because OS/2 programs were a clean start and dumped the bad habits of MS-DOS.

      > so that 64-bit Windows can seamlessly run 16-bit Windows programs once again. There's where something needs to be fixed.

      In what way is it Intel's fault that Windows 64bit can't or won't run 16 bit programs? When Windows 64bit first came out it wouldn't run many (or most) 32bit programs either - not the fault of the CPU.

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