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I just turned a Windows phone into a PC

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Microsoft unveiled its first Windows 10 Mobile devices today: the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL. Both include an impressive new feature: Continuum. It allows Windows 10 Mobile devices (that include hardware support) to transform into a PC-like interface. I've said before that it feels like the future, and today I got the chance to witness that future at Microsoft's devices event in New York City.

Continuum is surprisingly good. I attached a Lumia 950 XL to a Microsoft Display Dock through a USB Type-C connection and the interface instantly appears like a Windows 10 PC. It's so similar that I immediately started to try typing in the Start menu, splitting apps side-by-side, and minimizing windows. Unfortunately, those desktop features don't work just yet. Continuum is pretty basic right now, but the features it has work well. Every app launches fullscreen, and there's the task view feature of Windows 10 to let you quickly switch between apps. You can also use keyboard shortcuts like alt-tab to switch apps, or ctrl+c and ctrl+v to copy and paste content.

You can still use your phone when it's acting like a PC

You might expect the phone would just sit there idle in this mode, but you can actually pick it up and use it as you would normally. If you open an app on the phone that's currently displayed it will minimize on the monitor and resume on the phone. That means you can't run Outlook on both the phone and monitor, but it does mean you can send some SMS messages while you work on a Word or PowerPoint document.

Continuum primarily works with Microsoft's own Windows 10 Mobile apps, but you'll also be able to use third-party apps too. Developers just need to create Windows 10 universal apps and they'll scale up in this mode. It really feels that Microsoft is betting on this as the future of its mobile efforts, and the lack of performance lag is impressive for this first version. We'll be taking a closer look at Continuum, Windows Hello, and Windows 10 Mobile in the coming weeks so stay tuned for a full review of all Microsoft's new software features.

Verge Video: Lumia 950 and 950 XL hands-on