Microsoft’s vision of using your Windows 10 phone as a miniature PC is a lofty one—too lofty, in fact, for the current generation of hardware.
Microsoft’s Gabriel Aul said as much on Friday, replying to a tweet from an interested Windows 10 user. And Windows uber-developer Rudy Huyn backed him up as well.
Continuum for Windows phones was one of the most interesting announcements at Microsoft’s Build conference last week. As an overarching concept, Continuum adapts the look and feel of a Windows 10 application to the screen on which it’s displayed. On a PC, that means that desktop menus will become less complicated, with larger touch points if a tablet like the Surface 3 is undocked into tablet mode.
But it’s on phones where Continuum becomes even more interesting. If a Windows 10 phone is connected to a desktop monitor via the miniHDMI port, then the phone’s universal apps expand to fill the space—giving a desktop-like experience from just the phone. Unfortunately, the necessary processing power to do that is just beyond the current generation of Windows phones, according to Gabriel Aul, who oversees the Windows 10 Insider program at Microsoft.
@RobiaJuan Continuum for PC will work on any touch enabled device. Continuum for phones will require new hardware.— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) May 1, 2015
Rudy Huyn, who has authored numerous clones of popular apps for the Windows Phone platform, also offered his take:
Sorry guys,Continuum will need new hardware.It’s not just about Miracast, it’s also about be able to render two screens with different sizes— Rudy Huyn (@RudyHuyn) May 2, 2015
Microsoft, of course, has settled upon a strategy of launching midrange, cost-effective phones as a means of expanding its market share. That’s meant that customers have waited quite a while for anything that could be considered a modern flagship. Aul also tweeted that Microsoft planned to open up the Windows 10 Insider program to non-Lumia phones, potentially including the HTC One M8 Windows phone — but those presumably won’t receive the Continuum feature, either.
Rumored flagship phones on the horizon
On the other hand, Microsoft is reportedly developing two new flagship phones, according a report from UnleashThePhones, codenamed CityMan and TalkMan. CityMan includes “a 5.7 inch QHD display, a Qualcomm octa-core processor, 3GB RAM” and more, flagship-class specs including a 20 Mpixel camera. The TalkMan phone would be slightly smaller, with a 5.2-inch display. The site estimates that the new phones might use a Snapdragon 810 chip.
Why this matters: Quite frankly, Windows phone fans who want another flagship Windows phone have had to wait for so long that chances are they’re close to renewing their contracts anyway. A new flagship phone, plus Continuum, gives them a reason to upgrade and something to brag about to their friends. And if they can start using Android and iOS apps on those phones? That’s some serious potential we’re talking about here.
This story, "If you want Microsoft's nifty Continuum for phones, you'll have to upgrade" was originally published by PCWorld.