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Why Windows 10 Mobile matters for business

Mary Branscombe | Dec. 8, 2015
Microsoft’s first Windows 10 phones are shipping, even though Windows 10 isn’t quite finished. These flagship devices may be priced too high for general business use, but they have some intriguing new features that may have significant business advantages.

Doing that on Windows 10 let them create IDA, an Interactive Digital Adventure that potential customers can experience on a virtual reality headset that’s a Windows 10 phone tucked into a VR case, connected to a Windows PC so the Virgin Atlantic staff can track how well it’s going. At strategic points of the tour through the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and the Upper Class cabin, they even wave essential oils under your nose to make the virtual gin and tonic and the relaxing massage more realistic, and you can wear a Microsoft Band that monitors your heart rate, so they can see how engaging you’re finding the adventure. There’s a tablet version to show to people who don’t want to put the headset on. And when it’s done, they can give you a copy of the app to take home that you can run on your own PC.

But some companies view the term universal as something of a misnomer; Slack, for instance, is working on its Windows Phone 8 app (which will run on Windows 10 Mobile but not on Windows 10 PCs) but isn’t currently planning to create a UWP app because it wouldn’t run on Windows 7. Unless you only need to build an app for Windows 10 users, you will need to consider how many Windows 7 systems you need to support in your business as well. In the longer term, though, universal apps are compelling – and they have a hidden advantage.

Can a phone be a PC?

The Lumia 950 and 950 XL as well as Acer’s upcoming Jade Primo handset support a new feature called Continuum, which goes beyond being able to using your phone to drive a screen. With Continuum, you can use Miracast to connect wirelessly to a screen and Bluetooth to connect to a keyboard and mouse, or drop your phone into a USB dock, and what you see isn’t a phone screen blown up to the size of the display. Instead, you get the Windows 10 PC version of the interface for universal apps. So instead of a phone view of Word Mobile, you get the same interface that Word Mobile would have if you ran it on a laptop.

You can put two applications side by side to compare or copy information. You don’t get a full PC desktop, and initially you can’t pin applications to the taskbar; this is much more like the tablet mode in Windows 10. But it does mean you can plug a keyboard and screen into a phone and work very much as if you were using a PC.

Standard desktop apps won’t run on the phone, although vice president for the Windows developer platform Kevin Gallo suggested at the recent Connect 15 event that Microsoft is looking into options to support that; “we really do want that full desktop experience with some of those 32-bit applications lighting up there”.


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