This article was published 9 years ago

Continuum is Microsoft’s answer for Windows portable

Microsoft Build continuum phone pc
Microsoft’s attempt at running your phone as a PC. – Image credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has been looking a way to make Windows portable. Microsoft’s answer is Continuum.

This solution already exists in the corporate world where a main server (running Windows Server) supplies workstations (dumb terminals) the operating system, what programs can run as well as restricting outside access, restrictions on web access and denying USB ports to charge your phone.

The problem with dumb terminals is that they are expensive to run and maintain. Windows Server software can run thousands of dollars to purchase and it doesn’t include individual Windows OS licenses. Because of the expense, corporations that bought a Windows Server usually don’t upgrade, which is why many places still have PCs that run Windows XP and Windows 2000 in some cases.

What’s worrying Microsoft is that instead of upgrading, the corporate world is changing its attitudes about allowing outside devices. Workers want to use their phones (Apple and Android) and computers (Apple) instead of company-supplied equipment like Blackberries and cheap PCs still running Windows XP.

Microsoft knows the world is moving to mobile as PC sales continue to decline. In order to stay in the corporate world, they must find a way to stay relative as Apple continues to grow in the private sector.

Others have tried to make Windows run in a mobile world. There was a start-up called Moka5 that allowed users to run Linux or Windows OS on top of existing hardware using either a USB stick or a hard drive using FireWire that had a scaled-version of VMWare. If you were lucky to have a workstation that allowed full access, then it worked. My test environment was a library at a community college in Plano, Texas that allowed no restrictions on applications.

It worked flawlessly, only problem was the processor wasn’t high performance – this was before dual and quad core processors – that resulted in terrible load times on some applications and some high-intensity applications – like Photoshop Elements – would crash when saving a file.

Moka5 no longer lists the software. I would doubt if the reason behind the move was a results of a cease-and-desists letter from VMWare.

Continnum is the answer, running your phone or tablet as a full computer with a keyboard and mouse. The big difference between Apple and Android versus Microsoft will be that the apps will be desktop applications instead of mobile applications. Sure there’s no difference between Office on a desktop and mobile but ask those that run AutoDesk or any video or photo editing software like Premiere or Photoshop.

There is a difference between mobile and desktop. What we don’t know is how those apps will run based on performance. We know that certain phone have be optimized for continuum, meaning quad or even octo-core processors with lots of on-board memory.

Microsoft has for years been looking for a way to make Windows portable. Other have tried and failed. Continuum looks to be the solution.