Windows 10 Continuum for Phones

Ever since I got to play with my dads Nokia 9210i Communicator back in the early 2000s I’ve always been searching for the mobile experience that could evolve upon request. That could be a small phone, but when you needed a little extra it could adapt. The 9210i Communicator was something like that and I’ve been searching for an upgraded experience ever since.

"Nokia 9210" by J-P Kärnä. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia_9210.jpg#/media/File:Nokia_9210.jpg
“Nokia 9210” by J-P Kärnä. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia_9210.jpg#/media/File:Nokia_9210.jpg

 

Upon this day I have been through phones running Windows Mobile (or was it PocketPC Phone Edition of some sort?) and the last phone I bought that was anything like the 9210i Communicator: Nokia N900. I loved the device. It had a full keyboard and ran Linux. I could use the package manager and download more hardcore software, and it had pretty much (at that time) every possible way of connecting to people, networks and devices. Eventually I had to switch it with something more modern that allowed me to run the apps I had started developing for Android.

Nokia N900. Look at that task switcher
Nokia N900. Look at that beautiful task switcher

The market had been quiet for quite some time, then Microsoft showed up with their Surface and Surface Pro tablets that ran Windows 8. The Pro being a fully fledged computer running on Intel chipsets, with full USB port and a 10,8″ multi-touch screen and add the Type or Touch Cover and you had a laptop. Finally I thought; now we’re getting somewhere. In fact, I own Surface, Surface Pro, Surface Pro 3 and a Surface 3 to this day. It has really come to be the type of device I’ve wanted for many years. It is a beautiful tablet that can evolve into a laptop (attach the keyboard) or a desktop (dock it) and the experience adapts for its usage.

WP_20150510_14_16_15_Pro

 

The Surface is a great step on the way for the experience that I’ve sought for all these years. It’s still not quite there, but Microsoft seems to be heading in that direction. At the Xamarin party the night before the Build 2015 conference started I talked with a Microsoft employee, and I got to talk about this concept with him. After I told him my story, he smiled and said “It’s not quite ready, but it will come”. I was intrigued.

The next day at the keynote Joe Belfiore showed us Continuum for Phones. Continuum is already known in Windows 10 as the feature that switches the Windows experience from PC mode to tablet mode and vice versa. Continuum for Phones will allow you to dock your phone or connect to a wired or wireless screen and it will adapt to become a desktop. The only downside with these phones today is that they run on ARM architecture and that means the only software you can run must be built for ARM.

Continuum-Windows-Phone
microsoft-windows-10-continuum-for-phones

 

Down the road Microsoft hopes that the majority of mainstream apps will be Universal Apps that run across the Windows 10 device family, but until that time there’s still a bunch of classic Win32 apps that one would want to run. At least that I would want to run. Until phones come with an Atom chip or some other x86/x64 chip there’s always Remote Desktop to the rescue.

With Windows 10 the phones have access to the same HID support so mice, keyboards and all the other USB peripherals will be able to work with it. Marvelous. When you connect your phone to a dock or a screen, you can still use your phone normally, so it will be like having dual-monitors where one screen is really tiny.

I am genuinely excited about this feature, and is a major step towards the experience I’ve been seeking. It’s still not quite there.

My hopes going forward is take the same concept and introduce a Surface Phone and bundle it with empty Surface tablet shells and other formfactors. Why empty? When we get there, it will no longer be necessary to bring your laptop or tablet with you. The phone is your PC, and you can dock your phone in to the Surface shell. The phone can adapt to become a touchpad if you want (imagine docking it where the touchpad would normally be) as we all know that the only ones that have great touchpads for laptops is Apple. The shell can contain extra batteries instead to increase the longevity of your session. There’s many possibilities, and I would love to one day just carry a phone with me. That’s at least the first step, then we can talk about more complex interfaces as we’re getting closer to realizing them.

The other company that has been making the same kind of progress is Ubuntu with their Ubuntu Phone, so if you’re a Linux user (as I once heavily was) then you should totally check that out. It’s exciting times that’s for sure!

0212_ubuntu_android_660

One last thing: Microsoft should drop the Continuum for Phones name and just go with Continuum. Please.

Want to learn C# and Windows (Phone) development?

The best inspiration for writing blog posts is absolutely the questions I receive from people via Facebook, Twitter, E-mail and more. For this particular post the question at hand was if I had any good resources for learning to code and develop applications in C#.

How one learn is different for each person. Someone needs to have hands-on tutoring, visual/audio-based material and of course reading. However; the only way to truly learn is by doing and practicing. If you are the one who needs hands-on tutoring then I might suggest you look up courses near you, as I can’t help you there. In this post I have tried to come up with some good video walkthroughs and reading material for each category, so continue reading to get to the good stuff.

Reading Mac formatted drives/images in Windows

HFSExplorer Main WindowThe other day I was going to watch a couple of episodes of Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza at my girlfriends place and I brought my laptop so we could hook it up to the TV via HDMI. She runs all Mac and had an external drive with her which she transferred the episodes onto. What we didn’t know and what I didn’t think of at first was that the external drive was formatted in HFS+ which Windows can’t handle. So what do we do when we stumble upon such a problem? We use HFSExplorer from Catacombae!

[box icon=”info”]HFSExplorer is an application that can read Mac-formatted hard disks and disk images.

It can read the file systems HFS (Mac OS Standard), HFS+ (Mac OS Extended) andHFSX (Mac OS Extended with case sensitive file names).[/box]

Using this handy tool it was an ease to extract the episodes from the drive and everyone was happy!

If you encounter an error that you’re missing MSVCP71.dll which I did (I run Windows 7) you’ll find the files you need at this site. Also included is an easy guide on how to install the files which is copying the two files to either WindowsSystem32 or WindowsSysWOW64 if you run a 64-bit system.

The new Windows Live Messenger 2011

Logo for Windows LiveSo, I’ve been using this new Windows Live Messenger for two days now and I’ve got to say; it’s not that bad or good really. I’ve got some mixed feelings about it:

Pros

  • The new interface in compact view is crispier
  • Video chat now serves the video part much better (Bigger focus on the video/audio part)
  • The social part is interesting, presents a good way on keeping me up2date with what’s happening while being able to see who’s online. This works very well with a multi-monitor setup!
  • The new emoticons
  • The tabbed interface

Cons

  • Way too much advertising and advertising space!
  • The new emoticons (I kinda like the new ones but I also miss some of the old ones)
  • Focus on so much; social, msn, ads.
  • Unstable and/or buggy sometimes

This is not a review so don’t take my pros/cons list that serious, it’s just some of the things I like and dislike with the new edition. I have mixed feelings about the interface; I like my IM clients to be smooth, simple and present a nice interface but for a maximized application the social part of the new Live Messenger can be a nice addition to all you multi-monitor geeks!

Interface for WLM 2011