Continuum 2.0 for mobile It's the future.


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Dec 19, 2012
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Let's just agree that Continuum in it's current form will face many problems right away:

  • The need for special hardware on your phone for the feature to be activated will limit it's appeal.
  • Much like MHL or microHDMI out the reasons people don't use wired projection are usually A. heat, B. battery drain, C. understandable lag
  • wireless broadcasting relies heavily on the host network performance and sometimes it's just not viable at all
  • There isn't enough power in any current phone to make the office experience PC like (Office is the only app I consider using continuum for, but i wouldn't mind photoediting, or video editing software, I would also love a programming language :D)

Now what if we invented something that solved all of the above problems without the need for top of the line hardware?

The answer is "External Processing", the idea was created to solve the same problem for Laptops,AlienWare announced a gaming laptop that can be hooked to an external unit to get the GPU performance of a desktop PC while still managing to get decent battery life and performance without that connection, and while that idea probably didn't work for Alienware, mobile stands to benefit most from such a method and here's why:

  • ARM processors are dirt cheap specially since in such a product you won't need a fancy SoC as we only need raw CPU/GPU power and a Wifi chipset as our phones already have all the fancy sensors and features of a SoC, even the most generous of estimates (multiple CPUs/GPUs and a big 4gb ram would put that machine at 250$)

  • ARM processors are almost always clocked down but in an external unit it doesn't need to be as it'll have more space to dispense heat and we can even install a small fan to get things running extra smooth
  • Our smartphones won't heat up because all the heavy lifting is being done over the external processing unit.
  • Not only will the battery enjoy the lack of heat and thus extended lifespan, but because of the external processing you won't lose your battery charge so you won't be afraid to use the feature if you're going out soon.
  • If the external processing unit was fitted with a healthy 4GB of ram, I wouldn't be surprised if I saw old Unity games for PC show up on Continuum with mouse and keyboard controls or in other words THE DREAM)
  • the added power will drive developers to take bigger bets on mobile, just imagine a fast full video editing experience on videos you already shot on that same phone in the dock.
  • this product can be made by third party manufacturers with Microsoft providing the strict guide lines on how to make it, and there're lots of candidates (AMD, ZTE, Huawei and even Samsung)
  • This product will enable even Snapdragon 200 phones an incredible processing edge over flagship competitors
  • instead of replicating what's being projected on screen the phone's screen could act as a multi touch trackpad eliminating the need for a mouse !
  • instead of creating thick phones with huge batteries and heat problems we can relax and create amazing classy looking phones.
  • much like the upcoming Continuum dock you can have lots of ports on the external processing unit.
  • I don't know if it's possible but if that unit charged your phone in the process that would make it the best projection accessory ever
  • There're many alternative ways to achieve the above idea like plugging your phone into your Xbox one and letting that machine take care of the processing through emulating an ARM processor.

* P.S: If this idea even came close to execution no current hardware will be able to support it, as it'll require tons of work to allow processing operation to be outsourced and switched back on the fly, the fact that it happened in PC doesn't mean it would be easy to do on Mobile, specially since the Alienware idea was a GPU only outsourcing and Microsoft already supported multiple GPUs on Windows, it will also require special connectors (USB C could do it but I doubt it would be efficient on that scale.

So what do you think? Wouldn't that be a better Continuum concept? wouldn't that truly make Windows OS truly Mobile, but also truly PC?
How can you improve on this concept?
Sound off in the comments bellow.

Thanks for reading.

Zachary Boddy

Staff member
Aug 3, 2014
Hey, thanks for spending the time writing this up for everyone to read and encouraging criticism. It's a clever little idea.
I have a couple of issues with it, however:
Even cutting costs like using an ARM processor, this would still be expensive. My argument is, if anyone truly wanted Continuum, they'd be willing to spend the money to buy a phone capable of itself, and in the process get a good, solid flagship. Someone who wants Continuum but can't afford the hardware...would they be able to shell out for the external processing unit? Maybe a few would, but it stands to reason that they would be the vast minority.
Another point, also touching on the use of ARM processors, is that part of the appeal of Continuum is the possibility in the future of a mobile device using an x86 processor and therefore being able to run full Windows programs using Continuum. If you use an ARM processor to outsource the heavy lifting, that instantly becomes impossible. Sure, you can always release a phone with an Intel processor capable of running Continuum without the external processing unit, but then you suddenly divide your market...again. At this point, several groups of people already do not want/need this device: people who can afford to buy a full flagship, people who can't afford the external processing unit, and people looking to run full programs. Maybe some people would still buy it, but how many?
At the same time, if I realize this, then anyone who thinks about it in the same light will see it too. Under these circumstances, what's encouraging Microsoft (in the hypothetical future that they do release this device) to market it properly and make sure the world knows of its capabilities? I love Microsoft, but no one can deny their tendency to drop the ball on hardware, especially when they're not sure of its success.

Just a few thoughts I have to add. You've gotten me thinking about it though, which is far more than I can say about dozens of other half-baked foolhardy plots I've heard/seen. Most of them don't even get a chuckle. It's an interesting prospect, and one that could be useful to some people.
For one, it would truly open the doors to mobile gaming.
It would increase the market for Continuum, at least.
It may just help eliminate the need for PC's altogether and get us a little close to the "one device" future we dream of.
And, if nothing else, it would make our phones just a bit more powerful.

I'll give it some more thought, and maybe you'll think about what I've said as well.
Have a lovely night,


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Dec 19, 2012
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I can't really argue with your reasoning, actually I'm sure you noticed the last tidbit about using the power of the Xbox One to emulate ARM processing, as I understand how difficult marketing is to Microsoft (specially since I still barely see any accessories of theirs anywhere! and for some reason even though most of their customers are outside of the US they keep focusing on the US market almost exclusively)

Many stars must align to achieve such a crazy idea, but in the past 5 years I've see way crazier ideas come to life and I'm sure such an idea will find it's way somehow or another, thanks for the lovely comment BTW.


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Oct 15, 2013
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if an external box is doing all the processing, why need a phone at all?
Continuum becomes nothing more than a gimmick when an external device is doing all the heavy lifting.


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Mar 2, 2015
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if an external box is doing all the processing, why need a phone at all?
Continuum becomes nothing more than a gimmick when an external device is doing all the heavy lifting.

I completely disagree. The allure of Continuum is not its technical ability, but its practical usability. Continuum is about interacting with data and apps from your phone in a different way. It's about being able to take a picture and make your edits with the precision of a mouse, instantly. It's about editing your presentation on the train, and displaying that latest revision immediately, without needing to transfer files. It's about adding a mobile screen to Windows To Go. If you think Continuum is a gimmick, then you don't understand Microsoft's vision.

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