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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.

Although Microsoft has developer tools (codenamed Project Centennial) to converting desktop apps to Windows 10 apps, they still only run on a PC; the tool doesn’t produce true universal apps. Microsoft’s new PowerApps service is an alternative for mobilizing the Excel and SharePoint workflows that underlie a lot of line of business apps into mobile apps. But the obvious way to bring desktop aps to the phone is with the Remote Desktop app, or using Microsoft’s RemoteApp service for streaming desktop apps that run on Microsoft’s Azure cloud, and both of those will work today.

Getting the full size interface for universal apps is handy for getting some work done at home unexpectedly and it’s appealing for business travellers, especially if they currently carry a locked-down laptop for work and a personal laptop or tablet for fun. But Nick McQuire, vice president at mobile analysts CCS Insight believes there’s a bigger opportunity for Continuum in business.

“Thin client for mobile has never really been solved,” he told “Maybe Continuum is the opportunity for doing this. It can tap into your Windows environment, because you can run Remote Desktop through Continuum, because it has an Ethernet connection when you plug into the dock.”

He believes enterprises will be interested in the potential of Continuum to bridge their investments in thin client to the mobile space. “A lot of people still have a lot of Citrix and they struggle around supporting mobility; thin client on mobile devices is a horrible experience and what typically happens is people use their thin client solution on mobile devices in a very limited way.

No-one has taken think client beyond the iPad and there’s a question of whether that experience is good anyway. The attraction here is you can virtualize your desktop or certainly your apps and maintain that infrastructure and strategy, but extend the reach of that out into a phone environment. Enterprises have a lot of legacy apps they have to figure out what to do with, and it’s not easy to port those onto a phone. Now you have an environment where you can bring them to a phone, and you don’t have to rewrite them or push users into a poor experience.”

A big advantage of Continuum is that Windows handsets will work with existing accessories you already have in the business. That was a requirement that showed up in CCS Insight’s last survey of enterprises. “For corporate purchased phones, the ability to work with existing hardware like screens and projectors and printers is in the top three now, and that was never really a major requirement before,” McQuire says.

The incompatibility of iOS devices with existing business hardware and the need to buy pricey new cables and connectors he claims is “increasingly a source of frustration; Apple gear doesn’t talk to anything in the enterprise.” USB ports mean Android devices should work with existing accessories, but he notes that this is often hard to set up. “People say ‘I spend so much time trying to get a tablet to work with a projector that I’ll just use my laptop’ and it’s the same with printing.”


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