​How Microsoft is bridging the smartphone/laptop divide with Windows 10

Windows 10 will become the new enterprise standard for PCs and laptops, potentially realising Microsoft's mobile vision.

Amidst great media interest and industry flurry, Microsoft launched a number of new Windows 10 devices to the market last week, built around its standout Surface hardware range.

Including the eagerly anticipated Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 and a number of new Lumia smartphones, Microsoft’s big release has been met with positivity from all sides of the industry.

But with the dust now settled, and while the hardware is certainly attractive, that wasn’t enough to peak the interest of Tim Sheedy, Research Analyst, Forrester Research, nor that of his clients.

“What is interesting, however, is the introduction of the Microsoft Display Dock and Continuum for phones,” Sheedy qualifies.

“This new technology allows users to connect their smartphone to a screen, keyboard, and mouse and use the smartphone on a large screen - running universal Windows apps designed for the PC and phone.

“Suddenly the power of Windows 10 as a universal operating system can be realised.”

While not a complete PC experience, Sheedy believes it will be “enough” for a lot of users within business.

“Most firms have employees that only require casual PC access (think site staff in construction firms, store management in retail, traveling sales staff, factory floor management teams etc),” he adds.

“At present we spend more than we need to in order to serve these employees - often providing a dedicated PC or laptop for them - along with their smartphone.”

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In a world where universal Windows apps are readily available, Sheedy believes many or all of these users could be given a smartphone and a Display Dock to use with a screen on-site or at home - helping businesses save money and direct this spending perhaps to rewriting internal applications as universal Windows apps.

“Even a communal screen and dock would be enough in some workplaces,” he believes.

However, Sheedy believes this is all a pipe dream if Microsoft cannot get the traction it needs with Windows 10 to convince developers to write apps for the platform.

For Sheedy, app availability is still a significant factor in device choice.

“If your bank, local restaurants, entertainment, fitness, smartwatch, and other apps are not available for your employees Windows 10 devices they will still carry a second phone or tablet - relegating the Windows 10 phone to “my second phone for work”,” he claims.

“With a number of developers working on universal Windows apps, there is certainly some momentum at the moment to suggest Microsoft will become a third force in the mobile device landscape.

“But don’t let the numbers distract you - Microsoft boasts of 110 million Windows 10 devices - but many of these devices are desktops, laptops, and tablets - which are all “second screens” - the smartphone is the first screen and this is the battle that Microsoft needs to win - or at least compete on an even footing.”

Going forward, Forrester believes that Windows 10 will indeed become the new enterprise standard for PCs and laptops, which offers a chance that this mobile vision will become reality down the line.

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