Tag Archives: Continuum

ConnectWise-Continuum buyout shakes up MSP software market

ConnectWise, a provider of software for managed services providers, has acquired its competitor Continuum.

The Continuum acquisition was announced today by ConnectWise CEO Jason Magee at his company’s annual user conference, IT Nation Connect, running from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Orlando, Fla. The buyout, which is poised to shake up the MSP software market, accompanies the acquisition of ITBoost, an IT documentation vendor. ConnectWise also revealed a strategic partnership with partner relationship management software provider Webinfinity to help ConnectWise partners manage their vendor alliances.

“[The Continuum acquisition] allows ConnectWise to address the growing pains of our partners and some of those pains around talent and skills shortages … [and] continues to accelerate ConnectWise in the cybersecurity area,” Magee said in a press briefing.

ConnectWise and Continuum are owned by private equity investment firm Thoma Bravo. Thoma Bravo purchased ConnectWise in February. The private equity firm also owns MSP software players (and ConnectWise-Continuum competitors) SolarWinds and Barracuda Networks.

ConnectWise’s platform spans professional services automation, remote monitoring and management (RMM), and ‘configure, price and quote’ software. Continuum’s development of a global security operations center (SOC), network operations center and help desk technologies will be “complementary” to what ConnectWise does today, Magee said.

Jason Magee, CEO of ConnectWise Jason Magee

The future of ConnectWise and Continuum’s RMM platforms, ConnectWise Automate and Continuum Command, remains in question. Magee said the respective RMM platforms “will be maintained [separately] at this point.” After the IT Nation Connect 2019 event, the companies will begin working on its overall business plan and joint roadmaps, “which to this point we have not been able to dig into much due to regulatory restraints around getting government approval of making the deal happen and so on,” he said.

Magee suggested that in the short term ConnectWise-Continuum partners could see some innovations introduced to the Automate and Command platforms. He pointed to a few potential examples, such as making Command’s LogMeIn remote control available to ConnectWise partners and adding features of Command’s automation and patching capabilities to the Automate platform. He didn’t specify the timing around implementing any changes but said partners could expect to see some in early 2020.

Although the post-acquisition is still in the planning stage, Magee said Continuum’s CFO Geoffrey Willison will be brought as COO at ConnectWise, and the senior vice president of global service delivery, Tasos Tsolakis, will join as the senior vice president of service delivery “over all ConnectWise going forward.” Additionally, Magee said ConnectWise will hire a new CFO for the combined business.

“Until we have the rest of the best of the business plan done, it is business as usual,” Magee said.

Addressing two types of MSPs

Magee said that the ConnectWise-Continuum acquisition also serves to benefit “two mindsets” that have emerged among MSPs.

The first mindset is of the do-it-yourself MSPs that build their practices by partnering, buying platforms and tools, and hiring teams to manage and service their customers. The second mindset is of “the companies and people [that] just want to go hire the general contractor, and those people are asking for someone else to manage [their customers] for them, take the hassle out of having to do all that stuff within their company or themselves.”

This opens up a whole new world from a ConnectWise standpoint.
Jason MageeCEO, ConnectWise

“This opens up a whole new world from a ConnectWise standpoint,” Magee said.

For a few years, ConnectWise has been establishing a ‘connected ecosystem’ of third-party software integrations around its platform, and the company will remain committed to that strategy. “We are still committed to the power of choice for our partners and will continue with our API-first mindset, which allows for continued partnership with the 260 and growing vendor partnerships that we have out there,” Magee said. “These are all great options for those [MSPs] that like to do it themselves.”

When asked if Magee anticipated challenges in merging the ConnectWise and Continuum communities of MSP partners, he said he didn’t expect any problems but would address any issues that may crop up to ensure “we are doing right by the communities.”

“At the end of the day, there is so much good and greatness that comes from bringing these two together that the partner communities are going to benefit tremendously.”

ITBoost, Webinfinity and cybersecurity initiative

In a move similar to MSP software vendor Kaseya’s buyout of IT Glue, ConnectWise is purchasing documentation provider ITBoost. ConnectWise said the IT document tool will be integrated with its product suite.

Magee said the Webinfinity partnership will help ConnectWise launch ConnectWise Engage, a tool for channel firms for simplifying vendor relationship management. ConnectWise Engage aims to give partners “the ability to receive enablement content and material or solution stack information” from their supplier partners, he noted. Additionally, ConnectWise said the Webinfinity alliance will help centralize vendor-partner touch points for areas such as deal registration, multivendor support issues, co-marketing and SKU management.

ConnectWise today also revealed a cybersecurity initiative, which Magee is calling ‘Fight Back,’ to encourage vendors, platform providers, MSPs and MSP customers to up their security awareness and capabilities.

Magee noted that ConnectWise recently achieved SOC Type 2 certification and will mandate by early 2020 multifactor and two-factor authentication across its platforms. The company in August rolled out its Technology Solution Provider Information Sharing and Analysis Organization, a forum for MSPs to share threat intelligence and best practices. “This is an area that ConnectWise for years has strived to be better. We are not perfect by any means, but we strive to get better,” he said.

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Alcatel announces the virtual reality enabled IDOL 4S phone with Windows 10

Today, Alcatel announced the IDOL 4S with Windows 10 smartphone, featuring powerhouse flagship mobile specs, an in-box VR experience and innovative Windows 10 capabilities including Continuum*, Cortana** and Windows Hello***. The IDOL 4S will be available at T-Mobile stores starting next week.

The flexible IDOL 4S with Windows 10 is built for professionals, gamers and general tech enthusiasts alike. It comes with a premium dual-glass and metal-framed design and all the productivity features you need, such as Continuum, which puts PC-like productivity right in your pocket. With Continuum, you can connect your IDOL 4S with Windows 10 to a second screen, keyboard and mouse for a seamless desktop experience. A fingerprint reader below the camera allows you to login easily and more securely with Windows Hello.

Each IDOL 4S with Windows 10 comes packaged with virtual reality goggles included as part of the in-box bundle. The headset is designed so that the phone snaps into the goggles for an user-friendly virtual reality experience where you can play three dimensional games or watch 360 degree videos. When you buy an IDOL 4S, you’ll also receive a free 45-day trial for Hulu Plus, an additional 30-day trial for Groove Music and a free copy of the Windows 10 Mobile game Halo: Spartan Assault.

The IDOL 4S with Windows 10 includes:

  • Windows 10 Mobile, including access to Continuum and Microsoft Office apps
  • A fingerprint sensor that enables Windows Hello for added convenience and security
  • In-box virtual reality bundle included
  • Brilliant 5.5-inch Full-HD (1920×1080) AMOLED display that delivers a great viewing experience, even in direct sunlight
  • Powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor (2×2.15GHz + 2×1.6GHz) with Adreno 530 GPU for smooth multitasking and video processing
  • 21MP main camera with Sony IMX230 sensor + 8MP front camera with 84-degree wide angle lens
  • 3000mAh Battery for up to 20 hours of talk time and USB-C charging featuring Quick Charge
  • 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM (with MicroSD support up to 128GB)
  • Dual 1.2W multi-directional speaker featuring Hi-Fi audio for a more immersive sound experience

Pricing and availability:

The IDOL 4S with Windows 10 will be available at T-Mobile stores nationwide for $469.99, beginning November 10. Head over to Alcatel’s website for more information and full product specifications on the new IDOL 4S with Windows 10!

*Feature requires Continuum-compatible accessories, all sold separately. External monitor must support HDMI input.
**Cortana available in select markets.
***Windows Hello requires specialized hardware, including fingerprint reader, illuminated IR sensor or other biometric sensors and capable devices.

Crystal Group brings fast fashion to retailers in less than 24 hours using Microsoft technologies

You may have noticed that it seems like your favorite retailers are magically stocking store shelves with the latest trends in fashion at record speeds. You can attribute this to “fast fashion,” and it is revolutionizing the garment manufacturing industry. Instead of a clothing manufacturer producing a single style, fashion retailers now expect a single order that consists of hundreds of styles.

Windows 10, along with Microsoft cloud services, is enabling Crystal Group to digitally transform its processes to help modernize its workforce and to become more agile with the realities of fast fashion.

Before fast fashion, you could wait months for the latest fashion trend to debut on the runways and to reach your hometown. To stay ahead of the “fast fashion” trend, Crystal Group of Companies [CG], a leading international garment manufacturer and FORTUNE 17 company based in Hong Kong, is deploying Windows 10 Enterprise and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite across 4,500 employees. Windows 10, along with Microsoft cloud services, is enabling Crystal Group to digitally transform its processes to help modernize its workforce and to become more agile with the realities of fast fashion. Through this technology, Crystal Group has achieved accelerated sales cycles and significantly improving design concepts to protype garments in days versus months for its global customers like Victoria Secret and in in-time customers such as Gap, H&M, Levi’s.

 Crystal Group Brings Fast Fashion to Retailers in Less Than 24 Hours Using Microsoft Technologies

“Fashion is changing all the time and our role is to help customers stay one step ahead of consumer preferences,” says Karl Ting, General Manager, Information Services Department, Crystal Group. “Today, consumers choose from a plethora of styles online, and they expect to see the same variety in stores. This is partly responsible for ‘fast fashion,’ pioneered by retailers like H&M and Zara.”

Previously, designers would travel to a customer’s office juggling multiple devices and folders brimming with style printouts to work on. While back at the Crystal office, an assistant designer converted the drawings into a soft copy and then uploaded them into the quotation system. That process took several days before a customer signed off on a design.

To make design concepts a reality in less than 24 hours versus weeks, CG employees now use the following custom, fashion-forward apps built on the universal Windows 10 platform to expedite its entire sales cycle.

  • Style Library app on their Surface Pro 4 to show their customers the company’s latest library of styles. Together, they can use the Surface Pen to quickly draw on the screen and finalize their designs. This process took up to 7 days and can now be done in 12 hours. Once a design is signed off, the Crystal merchandiser uses the Style Library app to quickly convert the order into a quotation record.
  • Quotation app: Once the order is in the system, a sales manager reviews and approves the quote via the Quotation Approval app on their Surface Pro 4 or Microsoft Lumia phone.
  • Sales Hub Apps: Employees use the app as one-stop-shop for customer data where they can track the go-to-market dates for sales, marketing, research and development and merchandisers.

“These Windows 10 apps are going to set us apart in the market,” shared Ting. ”Our designers, who are working with customers in the United States or Europe can instantly upload finalized styles. The faster customers see their concept become garments, the happier they are.”

 Crystal Group Brings Fast Fashion to Retailers in Less Than 24 Hours Using Microsoft Technologies

Windows 10 Security Safeguards Customer Data

With a more on-the-go workforce, CG strengthened security and data protection for its employees carrying classified designs and intellectual property on their devices as they move from one office to another. “Security is our top concern in an ever-changing IT landscape,” says Carol Tai, senior manager, Infrastructure and Operations at the Crystal Group of Companies. CG has deployed Windows 10 security features like BitLocker to encrypt corporate data on employees’ personal and corporate devices – and Credential Guard and Windows Hello to provide a stronger layer of security and authentication. Azure Right Management has also provided end-to-end information security, no matter who an employee shares it with.

CG employees are also excited about Continuum, which turns any phone running the Windows 10 Mobile operating system into a big screen projector to showcase their designs to customers. Previously, CG employees had to balance multiple devices to a client’s office, making presentations more challenging as employees switched from device to device. Now, they can use a dock or adapter to connect their Windows Phone to a TV or monitor. “Having a phone as a desktop using Continuum is revolutionary for our business. We’ve reduced the number of devices employees need to carry – without compromising productivity,” says Ting.

“The latest desktop and mobile operating system and cloud computing technologies from Microsoft are delivering a suite of modern tools to help us meet the accelerated demands of fast fashion and stay ahead of the competition,” says Ting.

We’re proud that with Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure, CG has differentiated itself in the highly competitive retail manufacturing industry. Visit their customer story page for more details about Crystal’s digital transformation.

Microsoft Edge and Continuum: Your desktop browser on Mobile

Continuum for Phones, available on select Windows 10 Mobile devices, allows customers to connect their phone to a monitor, projector, or TV for a full-sized desktop experience, powered by their phone. Because Microsoft Edge is built on the Universal Windows Platform, Microsoft Edge in Continuum is able to provide a full desktop browser experience.

Image of a Windows phone connected to a Lumia Display Dock.

Windows 10 phone connected to Lumia Display Dock for Continuum

Let’s walk through a quick overview of how Continuum works and a few key differences between Microsoft Edge running in Continuum and on a PC.

Using Continuum on Windows 10 Mobile

Continuum allows Windows 10 Mobile users to have a PC-like experience when connected to an external display and a mouse and keyboard. When connected (via a wired dock or via Bluetooth and Miracast), Universal Windows Apps like Office and Microsoft Edge will adapt their interface and behavior to provide a desktop-like experience tailored to mouse and keyboard input.

Check out the Continuum product page, FAQ, and Getting Started Guide to learn more about Continuum.

Microsoft Edge on Continuum

Microsoft Edge takes full advantage of the Universal Windows Platform to provide a complete desktop-like experience in Continuum — when the device is connected to a larger display, Microsoft Edge turns into a desktop browser, adapting the interface and rendering characteristics to match Microsoft Edge on PCs.

In fact, Microsoft Edge in Continuum is nearly indistinguishable from its PC twin, which is a fun party trick when presenting at events or in meetings!

Screen capture showing Microsoft Edge open to bing.com in Continuum mode on a display connected to a Windows 10 phone.

Microsoft Edge running in Continuum

To enable an experience that’s as true to the desktop equivalent as possible, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind.

One rendering engine

Because Microsoft Edge uses the same engine across all Windows 10 devices, the rendering behavior is the same across Windows 10 devices, including Windows 10 Mobile devices. The only differences are due to certain device-specific qualities – for example, codec support may be different on phones due to missing hardware acceleration, and Flash is not supported on Windows 10 Mobile. Because Windows 10 Mobile has a different background model, RTC is also currently not supported. Finally, Windows 10 Mobile does not support Flash in order to provide a modern, touch-focused, and power-efficient experience appropriate for a mobile device. Because of this, Flash is not supported in Microsoft Edge in Continuum.

Details for web developers

Developers in general won’t have to give any special consideration to Microsoft Edge in Continuum. By design, it will behave like a desktop client, including sending a desktop User-Agent string.

As always, we recommend that you don’t try to detect based on the User Agent string — if you use responsive design and feature detection, your site should just work on Continuum. However, for some cases, including analytics or to provide a specifically tailored experience, developers may wish to detect when Microsoft Edge is running in Continuum.

In Continuum, Microsoft Edge changes a few tokens to make sure it gets desktop markup:

Microsoft Edge UA (Mobile)

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows Phone 10.0; Android 6.0.1; Microsoft; <Device>) AppleWebKit/<Rev (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/<Rev> Mobile Safari/<Rev> Edge/<Rev>

Microsoft Edge UA (Continuum)

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; ARM) AppleWebKit/<Rev> (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/<Rev> Safari/<Rev> Edge/<Rev>

Microsoft Edge UA (Desktop)

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/<Rev> (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/<Rev> Safari/<Rev> Edge/<Rev>

The revision numbers will, as in all browsers, change regularly as Microsoft Edge is updated, to ensure modern markup is received.

Independent scroll

Running desktop sites on phone is challenging, so we’ve made optimizations in the Anniversary Update to tailor performance to provide a more desktop-like experience. On PCs, Microsoft Edge offloads scrolling from the UI thread to provide a more fluid scrolling experience during page load/painting. In the Anniversary Update, this same feature is now supported in Continuum, even when scrolling via the mouse or keyboard. This results in a smoother experience even while the page is loading or painting.

Switching from mobile to desktop

Microsoft Edge will recognize when a phone switches into Continuum and any sites opened after the switch will render using desktop behavior, including the desktop UA string.

If a tab is open to a mobile site, and the device switches to Continuum, the tab will be sustained. If the tab is refreshed, and it isn’t a mobile-specific URL, it will reload in a desktop view. This ensures that users do not lose unsaved changes (such as a partially-filled form) on a site while switching from the phone to Continuum.

We’re committed to making Continuum as close to the desktop experience as possible without adding any additional overhead for Web Developers – try it out on a Windows 10 Mobile device and let us know what you think! If you have questions or are curious how your site looks in Continuum, reach out to @MSEdgeDev on Twitter, and we’d be happy to help.

Balaji Bhaskar, Program Manager, Microsoft Edge

Salesforce Showcases Salesforce Lightning for Continuum on Windows 10

Microsoft and Salesforce continue to deliver on our partnership, with new joint solutions to make customers successful. Today at a launch event in San Francisco, Salesforce showcased the new Salesforce Lightning for Continuum on a Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Windows 10 phone. 

With Salesforce Lightning for Continuum, the Salesforce1 Mobile App on Windows 10 seamlessly transforms into the Salesforce Lightning desktop experience, enabling a phone to operate like a PC. For more on Continuum in Windows 10, check out this video.

Salesforce Lightning for Continuum

The Salesforce1 Mobile App sets a new level of speed and flexibility for CRM— by empowering users to run their businesses from their phones with powerful tools that work in the cloud, keeping them up-to-date with whatever real-time data they need. Once connected to Continuum, the Salesforce1 Mobile App transforms into the Salesforce Lightning desktop experience, empowering users to manage opportunities. And with customization features, you can make your Salesforce work the way you want it to.

The new Salesforce Lightning for Continuum is the latest integration between Salesforce and Microsoft designed to empower joint customers to achieve more, from anywhere. Previously announced integrations from Microsoft and Salesforce designed to help companies connect with customers and collaborate more effectively include: Salesforce Lightning integrations with Skype for Business, OneNote and Delve, and Salesforce1 Mobile App for Windows 10.

The Salesforce1 Mobile App is available today by going to login.salesforce.com on your Windows 10 phone and logging in. To learn more about joint offerings, visit salesforce.com/microsoft.

Cheers,

Steven “Guggs” Guggenheimer

Windows 10 Helps Retailers Create New Physical and Digital Shopping Experiences

It’s clear from the shopping trends in recent years and the fierce competition retailers face, that they need to create differentiated and delightful digital experiences for customers to use when and wherever they choose: in-the-store, online and on-the-go. Shopping experiences are increasingly more interactive, more personal and more multi-channel. Millennials, of course, are a big part of this transformation and by default so are their parents, me included. My young kids are in tons of sports and other activities and have limited time to shop, yet still seem to find time via their various mobile devices to find and buy the latest and greatest.

At Microsoft and especially in Windows we’re excited to be at the epicenter of this digital and physical transformation, and it’s our job to help retailers not only meet the needs of their customers but find new and engaging ways for them to interact with time-starved consumers.

This week at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Annual Convention and EXPO, we are joining thousands of retailers from across the globe and showcasing customized Windows 10 experiences to support our retail partners’ unique business initiatives – whether it’s managing inventory or supporting them in their mission to reach their customers in delightful and unexpected ways.

We’re proud to be joined by the following retail partners to showcase some really cool solutions at our Microsoft booth:

Mondelēz International Inc.

Mondelez has built an innovative digital vending machine unlike you’ve ever seen before. Leveraging Windows 10
Mondelēz International Inc., chances are you have enjoyed some of their products, given they are one of the world’s largest snack companies (Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers, Trident gum, among others).  Mondelez has built an innovative digital vending machine unlike you’ve ever seen before. Leveraging Windows 10, the 40-inch touch screen display allows consumers to interact with products in 3-D, see nutritional and ingredient information, add products to their cart and make a purchase using a variety of payment options. Interactive advertising alerts consumers about promotions and games nearby where they can win free samples. Using a Diji-touch machine – powered by Windows 10, Kinect and Azure IoT – allows operators to engage with consumers by tailoring the available product mix based on collected demographics and purchasing preference data.

Mondelēz has also created a universal Windows app that allows more efficient and proactive maintenance and support for the machines, while the Azure IoT Dashboard displays machine error notifications and the exact locations for tech support in the field. Mondelēz plans to launch 5,000 Diji-touch vending machines in the U.S. over the next 4-5 years.

Telstra

Telstra, a leading telecommunications and technology company in Australia has 370 Telstra stores across Australia, selling a full range of consumer products from pre- and post-paid mobile phones to wearables, pay-TV and high speed broadband. Given more than half of the company’s service transactions now take place on digital channels, Telstra has introduced a digitally led-customer environment at its flagship Discovery stores in Sydney and Melbourne, that blends online and offline worlds, reaching far beyond the store walls so customers can interact with Telstra when, where and how they choose. This is a big change to the traditional Telstra store, which was very product centric and structured in terms of how the store team interacted with customers, and with backend systems and processes that were cumbersome and added to wait times for shoppers.

Andrew Smith, Telstra’s Director of Retail Operations, says the company went on a “rampant mission” to create a more exciting, immersive and efficient retail environment. There were just two rules: make it simple and make it fast. In other words, any change or new system had to be easy for staff to learn to use. Tasks also had to be able to be completed in less than three minutes.

Leveraging Windows 10, the Telstra stores offer a mix of highly interactive features, engaging digital content displays, and an ever-changing range of the latest products and services. A key change was the move away from traditional desktop PCs to Windows tablets, so their retail advisors can access all the systems and operational tools to complete a full customer interaction – from exploring products and services to completing the activation, payments, capturing the signature and emailing the receipt and contract – all without leaving the customer’s side. Telstra advisors also have mobile phones so that customers can get back into touch with the exact person who served them – not just whoever happens to answer the store’s fixed line.

While Andrew acknowledges that the learning process continues, the results at Telstra’s Discovery stores have been outstanding, with significant increases in sales volumes, the number of customers visiting the stores and how customers rate their experience.

Telstra

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic was faced with a serious challenge. They had launched a highly-differentiated business traveler experience, but how could they better demonstrate this experience to customers who’d only experienced more traditional business travel? With a very specific objective to develop a new way to help their sales team engage with valuable business customers and business travelers, Virgin Atlantic and Microsoft partnered to create ‘Ida’, an immersive digital business adventure. Ida was built as a universal Windows app, which features specially created content that takes viewers on a guided tour through a virtual Upper Class experience, from check-in to boarding — all on a compact mobile device. The Virgin Atlantic sales team takes this experience on the road to target business customers and is looking to expand to staging it in high-traffic areas during the workday, such as corporate lobby locations. You might recall Virgin Atlantic first showcased Ida at Future Decoded in November 2015.

Windows 10 Point of Sale Solution offers advances in Retail Mobility

At NRF we’re also unveiling a demo of our vision for new point of sale (POS) solution to retail partners and customers that brings together the power of Windows 10 including devices and Internet of Things (IOT). The new Windows 10 POS solution will transform traditional, stationary workstations into interactive mobile experiences.

While the concept of a mobile workstation is not new, what’s different about the Windows 10 mobile workstation is it offers a more secure and automatic log-in with Windows Hello*, unlocking the Windows device by recognizing the retail associate’s face. Throughout the day retail associates can seamlessly transition from a mobile touch-tablet mode, to a traditional desktop mode, and even project to a larger display with Continuum, which adjusts your experience to match the activity, device and display. For instance, let’s say the associate wanted to show off a new living room set that is not in the store. It’s really difficult to show that on 5” screen. The Windows 10 device can “dock” seamlessly to a larger screen so the customer can see it in greater detail. The device can also easily dock to peripheral stations to access receipt printers, EAS deactivators, flatbed scanners, scales and more.  This enables retail partners to leverage one set of devices and experiences for new and engaging retail experiences, as well as accomplishing their traditional transaction workflow.

Windows 10 Point of Sale Solution offers advances in Retail Mobility

It’s really energizing to see all the unique and interesting ways our retail partners are tapping into the power Windows 10 and other Microsoft solutions. Visit our Windows For Business Retail Page to hear more about the customer and partner solutions we’re building and stay up to speed with Microsoft happenings at NRF this week on The Official Microsoft blog.

Happy New Year and Happy Shopping!

Jeremy

Weekend Reading: Microsoft devices news and stories you may have missed (Jan 15)

Skype celebrates ten years of Skype video calling and announces free group video calls for mobile phones, Designed on Surface project highlights mural artists around the globe who are doing great things with Surface, and the world of work is changing – here are our picks for Weekend Reading.

A man plugs a Lumia 950 into a screen using Microsoft Display Dock

Continuum for Phones: Making the phone work like a PC
Continuum for Phones is a Windows 10 feature that, with the Microsoft Display Dock, gives you a PC-like experience, allowing you to scale the Office apps on your phone onto a second screen, while you can continue using your phone as a phone.

Head over to the Windows Experience blog, to read about the making of Continuum – the challenges, vision, and solution.

Designed on Surface: Inspiring artists around the world to do great things
Designed on Surface project is a collaboration with artists across the globe to create murals embodying the spirit of people who do great things and the places that inspire them. Read more about the project here.

In our new weekly series, we showcase the individual artists and their inspiring work, created with the help of Microsoft Surface. The first in the series is Jasper Wong, an artist, illustrator and curator from the USA.

Jasper Wong creating his mural.

Ten years of Skype video calling
A decade ago, Skype introduced video calling, changing the way we communicate and keep in touch with our friends, family and colleagues. Since then, Skype has become the video calling app of choice for many, generating more than 2 trillion minutes of free Skype video calls to date.

Skype, originally only available on PCs, has evolved over the years, and this week the evolution continues as Skype announced it would bring free group video calling to mobile phones in the coming weeks.

The changing world of work
With the help of technology and mobile devices, we can work anywhere and anytime. So why go the office?

Microsoft Office Envisioning and PopTech spoke to experts around the globe trying to understand how automation, intelligence and the exponential growth of digital connectivity are changing the way we work.

Continuum for Phones: Making the Phone Work Like a PC

Imagine having a phone that works like a PC. Continuum for Phones makes this a reality, enabling Windows customers to get things done like never before.

Check out the ways this capability comes alive. You’ll be able to travel and leave your laptop at home, knowing you’re still equipped to complete your most common tasks. Walk into a meeting with just your smartphone – you’re fully equipped for seamlessly projecting PowerPoint presentations to a larger screen. Or take a seat in a business center where you plug your phone into a monitor and keyboard – you’ve instantly gained PC-like productivity using Office apps and the Microsoft Edge browser.

Continuum for Phones

How it all started

The road to Continuum began three years ago with a simple observation: we take our phones everywhere, we depend on them, and we feel lost without them. Yet, when the time comes to do “real work,” we reach for a laptop or desktop PC. So we end up carrying our phones plus our laptops, or we wait until we are at our desks to do the heavy lifting.

The thing is, today’s phones have more than enough processing power to handle our most common tasks and activities. We knew this was especially true in emerging markets where people rely only on their mobile phones to get online.  So — with these thoughts top of mind — we set out on our mission to help people get real work done with just their phone.

Who are we? We are the small team of people who built Continuum for Phones with a passion to change the future of personal productivity.

Continuum for Phones

What people want

We started by talking to customers to understand what they needed. We spoke to people around the globe – from Chicago to Shanghai – and found that most people wanted the same thing: a phone that did more. Here are the main insights from the research:

  • “My most important device”: people universally describe their smartphone as the center of their connected life.
  • Connect to a bigger screen: people rely on their laptops and desktops because their phone lacks a large screen, keyboard and mouse. They want to easily connect to larger screens for both work and entertainment.
  • Tech-savvy people expect more: as the processing power of phones has risen, so has the expectations of the tech-savvy.
  • Many people around the world don’t have PCs: because they can’t afford a PC, people have a TV and a phone and that’s it. So any computing work gets done on their phone.

We realized that people embraced the idea of having a phone that could work like a PC.

Getting it done

So we started building Continuum, and we soon realized that we faced many technical and design challenges.

For example, there were two paradigms for connecting to a second screen: (1) mirroring your phone’s screen to a larger screen or (2) connecting your PC to multiple monitors. We needed to create a new design paradigm with two independent experiences – one on the phone and a separate one on the second screen. This was important because customers wanted to continue to use their phone as a phone, even while having a PC-like experience on the second screen. We spent months iterating with paper and software prototypes to arrive at an experience that was easy to understand and use.

The technical hurdles were just as big. For example, we had to build support for keyboard and mouse into Windows 10 Mobile. And many substantial architecture changes were needed in Windows to make Continuum work.

At the //Build conference in April 2015, we did our first live demo, and at the Windows 10 launch in July, we showed the full power of a phone running Office* apps on a second screen. The response – which exceeded our expectations — motivated us to keep going, working relentlessly with hundreds of colleagues around the world to deliver an integrated solution that required major changes to Windows, new capabilities in the phones, and creation of docks such as the Microsoft Display Dock.

Announcing Continuum

So, with the debut of Continuum for Phones, you really can have something new in your pocket: a smartphone that has the power and ability to work like a PC. In the words of our CEO Satya Nadella: “This is the beginning of how we are going to change what the form and function of a phone is.”

Right now, this means that you can carry a smartphone – like the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL – and use a small dock or wireless dongle to connect it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor for a familiar PC-like experience. Run Office* apps, browse the Web, edit photos, write email, and much more.

Continuum image 4

While you’re working on the larger screen, you won’t lose your phone’s unique abilities. Continuum multi-tasks flawlessly so you can keep using your phone as a phone for calls, emails, texts, or Candy Crush. Or if you don’t have a mouse, you can use your phone as the trackpad for the apps on the larger screen.

If you share my enthusiasm for Continuum for Phones, please check out all the details, including multiple usage scenarios, at windows.com.

* App experience may vary. Office 365 subscription required for some Office features.

Acer updates the Aspire V Nitro Black Edition notebook with the latest Intel RealSense short range camera and introduces a new Windows 10 smartphone

Ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV, Acer announced that they introduced the latest Intel RealSense short range camera to their top-of-the-line Aspire V Nitro “Black Edition”notebooks and a new Windows 10 Smartphone, the Liquid Jade Primo. With the latest Intel RealSense short range camera and Windows 10, users can login to their Aspire V Nitro notebook with Windows Hello and 3D scan objects for 3D printing. The new Liquid Jade Primo Smartphone, is a 5.5-inch premium smartphone running Windows 10 Mobile and allows users to take advantage of Windows 10 features like Continuum. Both are great devices for those seeking a blend of style and performance.

Introducing the latest Intel RealSense short range camera to the Acer  Aspire V Nitro “Black Edition” notebooks

Aspire V Nitro Black Edition 15” notebook running Windows 10

Available on both the 15-inch and 17-inch Aspire V Nitro Black Edition notebooks, the new Intel RealSense Camera offers an improved sensing range of up to 5 feet from the device, secure and personalized login with Windows Hello, and more precise gesture tracking and control. With the improved camera sensing range the operational range is now even larger so that the camera can function when users are further away from the camera compared to previous generations.

Aspire V Nitro Black Edition 15” notebook with Windows 10

3D scanning of the face

“We believe the latest Intel RealSense camera will unlock new use cases and experiences for power users, complementing the style and performance of our iconic Aspire V Nitro series.”

— Jerry Kao, President of Notebook Business Group, Acer Inc

With the new Intel RealSense Camera in place, Aspire V Nitro users can control their notebooks more intuitively, such as controlling the cursor with hand gestures. Gaming experiences are more immersive and personalized through enhanced gesture and motion tracking. It also enables 3D scanning and printing; users can simply scan an object with the 3D camera and save it. The 3D model can be used as a photo, or altered for output on a 3D printer.

Pricing and Availability

The Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition series featuring the new Intel RealSense camera will be available in North America beginning in February 2016 at prices starting at $1,099. It will also be available in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in February with prices starting from €1,299. To find out about availability, product specifications and prices in specific markets, visit acer.com.

Acer Liquid Jade Primo Windows 10 Smartphone

Acer Liquid Jaede Primo running Windows 10

The new Liquid Jade Primo is a 5.5-inch premium smartphone running Windows 10 Mobile. With Windows 10 features like Continuum, it’s a great device for working professionals who want to be productive on the go.

With a USB Type-C monitor, wireless display accessories or the Display Dock, the Liquid Jade Primo can provide a PC-like experience on an external display with Continuum. It can be used as a touchpad and virtual keyboard, or a keyboard and mouse can be connected for multitasking on both the screen and on the external display; this unlocks use-cases such as:

  • Connecting the smartphone to a TV or monitor at hotels or anywhere on the go for productivity-intensive applications, so that the heavier laptop can be left at home.
  • Projecting presentation decks to a projector or large screen, while displaying the “Presenter View” on the smartphone.
  • Playing videos on the TV while using other apps on the smartphone simultaneously.

The Acer Liquid Jade Primo features Acer’s award-winning Liquid Jade design language with a sleek and slim profile, curved back cover that fits comfortably the hand and ergonomic 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass screen. The rear and front covers feature a fine hairline-brushed finish, while a sharp diamond-cut band wraps the chassis and gives the smartphone an even more polished look. The 21MP f/2.2 auto-focus rear camera has dual LED flash and supports up to 4K (3840 x 2160) video recording, and the 8MP f/2.2 front-facing camera boasts a wide-angle of up to 84-degrees while supporting up to Full HD 1080p video recording.

Pricing and Availability

The Acer Liquid Jade Primo will be available in EMEA in February with prices starting at €569, and will be gradually rolled out to other regions. Pricing will be announced in each market closer to availability. Exact specifications, prices, and availability will vary by region. To find out about availability, product specifications and prices in specific markets, visit acer.com.

To learn more about what Acer announced ahead of CES click here.

Developers’ Guide to Windows 10 Version 1511 Update – new videos now available on Channel 9

We’re happy to announce that the video recordings from last weeks’ Developers’ Guide to Windows 10 live event are now available on-demand on Channel 9. This half day event is an addendum to the existing Developers’ Guide to Windows 10 video series and covers new features for developers in the Version 1511 release and the corresponding Windows 10 Build 10586 SDK.

The opening video, What’s New for Developers in Windows 10 Version 1511 and the 10586 SDK, brings us up to date with the Windows 10 story so far, from the initial release last summer of Windows 10 for desktop, laptop and convertibles and also for IoT devices such as the Raspberry Pi 2 and the Minnowboard Max, to the present release of the Version 1511 update.

Most significant in the Version 1511 update is the release of Windows 10 Mobile for phones and small tablets. This includes the new Continuum for phone, allowing modern devices such as the Lumia 950 and 950 XL to drive an attached screen such as a monitor or TV, in much the same way as a dual monitor setup for desktop PCs.

Along with phone support, there is also the new Build 10586 SDK which includes minor updates and bug fixes to the original 10240 SDK, and also a number of new APIs such as support for Bluetooth device pairing, Jump Lists attached to tiles, app listings in the Start Screen, and more.

Take a look at the new videos:

  • What’s new for developers’ in Windows 10 Version 1511 and the 10586 SDK – Andy Wigley and Shen Chauhan take you through a quick review of Windows 10 momentum, then an introduction to Continuum for phone. We explore the new Build 10586 SDK and review some of the updated UWP samples on Github, then explain how developers should version their apps to decide whether to target 10240, 10586 or both, and how to correctly program version-dependent code. Finally, we look at the new tools and packages in Visual Studio 2015 Update 1.
  • Building Apps for Continuum – Liz Threlkeld joins Andy to take a deeper look at what it takes to build apps to run on the connected screen in Continuum for phone. For most developers, there are no specific extra steps needed, just create an adaptive UI for your UWP app and you are good to go. We provide recommendations on scaling assets and look at those special cases where you want to create an app that runs on both displays at the same time.
  • Creating fluid and beautiful UI using the new Visual Layer – This API is one of the most exciting new features in the Build 10586 SDK. Formerly in preview in the original 10240 SDK, this API is now final and ready for use in your apps. Paul Gildea and John Serna from the engineering team show how to utilize new lightweight Visuals, Animations, Effects, and Manipulations to easily create smooth and highly scalable UI experiences for Windows 10 devices.
  • Moving beyond passwords and credential theft with Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello – Microsoft is on a mission to do away with passwords and instead replace them with more secure two-factor authentication techniques based on your device and a pin code or biometrics such as face, iris, or fingerprint recognition. Rajen Kishna joins Andy to explain how it works and how you can use these modern authentication techniques not only to log onto your Windows 10 devices but also to provide authentication for your UWP apps. The sample used in this video is available on GitHub.
  • Windows 10 for Business: Publishing apps to the Windows Store for Business – A major goal for Version 1511 is to provide essential Windows 10 features for enterprises. Windows 10 machines can now be set up using workplace or education identities backed by Azure Active Directory. Accompanying that, the new Windows Store for Business provides great facilities for enterprises to manage and distribute apps for their employees, and allows app developers to distribute their apps to business and education customers. Shen Chauhan returns in this video to walk through how it works.

Don’t forget, these videos supplement the existing Developers’ Guide to Windows 10 series, where you can find in-depth videos on everything you need to know to build great UWP apps for Windows 10. We hope you enjoy the series and if there is something else you’d like us to cover, please comment!