Windows 10 isn't just about laptops or tablets – the new breed of smartphones powered by Windows 10 Mobile unlock extraordinary opportunities and convenience for the business traveller.
This article is sponsored by Microsoft.
There’s a not-so-old adage that the best screen is always the one you’ve got.
If you’ve ever been in the back of a cab editing spreadsheets before a meeting, you know that smartphones and tablets can be a godsend in certain situations when your laptop is just not practical.
But for most people, there’s still a gaping chasm between what we use our mobile devices for, and what we use our desktops for.
While Windows has long been the most popular operating system on the market for desktop computers, in today’s world of smartphones and tablets it’s seen much less take-up for mobile devices, with the majority of mobile users tied to variations of Apple’s iOS operating system or Android.
The result is that the vast majority of us are juggling our workflow between two different ecosystems, one for our mobile devices and one for your work or home computers.
Now, Windows 10 Mobile plans to bridge this gap and make your workflow completely seamless between your mobile devices and your laptop or computer.
It’s an ambitious goal, but if you’ve been paying attention to Windows products over the last few years you would have noticed a trend of Windows becoming decidedly ‘tablet-like’ in its appearance and functionality, which is all part of a plan to make your smartphone operate more and more like a PC, rather than the other way around.
The key to making this a reality on Windows 10 Mobile is to use the same code, UI elements, menus and settings as the desktop version of Windows 10.
By doing this, developers can build ‘universal apps’ that are able to work just as well on a small handheld screen as they do on a large desktop screen.
Where this functionality really comes into its own is with Windows Continuum – this feature allows you to use your phone like a desktop computer by plugging in a monitor, keyboard and mouse (via a small pocket-sized Microsoft peripheral aptly called the Microsoft Display Dock).
Instead of a zoomed-in view of a phone app on a larger screen, apps scale smoothly to the larger screen of a monitor and unveil additional navigation and content that is typically viewed on a standard PC screen.
When interacting with an app on the larger screen, your phone still works like a phone so calls, texts, and apps work without interrupting the app on the larger screen. For business travellers, this means greater ease of use and security.
If you have to use the dreaded business centre at a hotel, rather than putting all your credentials into a possibly unsecure environment, you can just use your Microsoft Display Dock and plug your phone into the necessary peripherals to send emails and work on documents on the big screen, while only accessing data from your smartphone.
The latest Microsoft Lumia phones come pre-loaded with a range of apps that take advantage of the new features, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote – and with an Office 365 subscription you’re able to edit your documents, spreadsheets and presentations on Continuum.
Microsoft is also equipping independent developers to create a library of new 'universal apps'.
If you’re a Windows user you might have noticed Microsoft offering you a free upgrade to Windows 10 – it’s all part of Microsoft’s plan to have a billion Windows 10 devices in the next 3 -4 years, and create large-scale demand for universal apps that can operate seamlessly on large and small screens alike.
Windows 10 Mobile also offers a host of new security features that make it perfect for business travellers.
If your device has the hardware to support it, Windows 10 Mobile can unlock your phone by validating your facial appearance, your iris or your fingerprint – in practical terms, that means that you can simply look at your phone to unlock it rather than fiddling around with PINs or fingerprint scanners.
This can also function as a mobile credential for signing into other PCs, making it easier to implement two-factor authentication across your organisation.
The idea of universal apps that are built for computers and phones at the same time makes perfect sense for business travellers, as work can take place from behind a desk or from a plane seat. Windows 10 Mobile aims to make this a reality first with its own in-house apps and then with independent apps.
There are also tools for developers to make Windows-friendly versions of their iOS and Android apps – so if you’re favourite app isn’t on Windows yet, it may just be soon enough.
Microsoft’s flagship devices that take advantage of Windows Mobile 10 are the recently released Lumia 950 and the larger 950 XL variant (below).
Both phones feature unassuming styling and materials, but underneath they pack all the specs we’ve come to expect – Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 810 processor, oodles of RAM (3GB) and 32GB of storage make it snappy at running heavy apps.
Business travellers will love that it has a removable cover, so you can keep a spare battery charged up and ready to switch out.
They also sport a USB Type-C cable for quick charging (you can charge your phone up to 50% in just 30 minutes), and can even be charged wirelessly.
The Lumia 950 and 950 XL also both feature high quality cameras that take rich, beautiful photos that look fantastic on the 5.7-inch Quad HD display on the XL model, while the standard size Lumia 950 comes with a 5.2-inch screen.
Microsoft Lumia 950: $999, available in Black or White
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL: $1,129, available in Black or White
This article is sponsored by Microsoft.
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