IoT Ecosystem > Mobile Workforce Blog

New Microsoft Lumina phones and Display Dock could be the missing link to smartphone/desktop productivity

by Gina Luk | Oct 07, 2015

Microsoft impressed with its Windows 10 Devices event on Tuesday in New York City — a launch with a big consumer focus on Xbox, new virtual reality game technology, and Microsoft’s fitness bands. New Lumia smartphones, a Surface tablet and a first-ever Microsoft-made notebook also took center stage, with strong ties to business and productivity features of each platform.

But while the devices wowed the crowd, the introduction of the Display Dock — a smartphone-sized brick which turns the new Microsoft phones into full-fledged Windows 10 desktops — interested me most. This blending mobile and desktop computing environments is something IT professionals should watch.

When Microsoft positioned Windows 10 its “uber-OS” for all devices, the potential melding of smartphone and desktop experiences sounded intriguing from a business productivity perspective. The new Lumina phones and Display Dock are the realization of the phone-as-desktop concept, and could reshape how many enterprises think about mobile workers’ access to productivity tools and desktop environments in the future.

Made for the forthcoming Lumia 950 and 950X Win10 phones, the Microsoft Docking Station is a USB-3 dock, which can connect Lumia phones to multiple, high-resolution (4K) displays, mouse, keyboard and other peripherals, and allow the phone to be used as a full Windows 10 desktop PC (Start Menu, Windows Explorer, even hard-wire Ethernet). While in the PC mode, the Luma phones can be accessed via the Windows 10 phone interface, providing two separate device experiences at once.

The Display Dock could be useful in organizations with a large, semi-remote or nomadic workforce — employees who travel frequently, or somewhat frequently, alternating between home-office and corporate office. Many of these behaviors are becoming common among businesses, and in the past, corporate IT gave these workers laptops to take home or on the road. This was a productive, but cumbersome solution. Tablets are the new approach for many business, but these hybrid smartphone/laptop devices are sometimes not enough of either to be fully productive. Combining the entire desktop experience into the phone, and requiring only a small Display Dock and common display/input peripherals in an office is a nice solution for this scenario.

Many Enterprise Mobility Management firms push the idea of the “workspace” — a digital mashup of cloud-accessible storage and data, managed apps and an operating environment specific to the workers’ requirements. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is part of this spectrum of workspace tools, as well as EMM, application virtualization and cloud services. In many ways the Lumia phone and dock extends the concept of the workspace on the smartphone. Instead of the mobile device acting as a gateway to a “workspace” or virtual desktop infrastructure, the new Windows 10 Lumia phones are an “actual” desktop/workspace embedded into the smartphone.

Regarding all the new Windows 10-powered gear, enterprises should remember that that any device running the OS is considered a mobile device from a management, security and control standpoint. Mobility-based features and controls are at the foundation of the Windows 10 management and security architecture. This means any Win10 tablet, laptop or phone can be managed via EMM platforms such as AirWatch, BlackBerry, MobileIron, Microsoft, etc. 

Of course there is still a productivity gap of mobile computing between the Lumia phone and docked Lumia desktop experience. Bringing the dock, keyboard and monitor on the road won’t be an option for most, and this setup in an airplane or train seat would be silly. For that, Microsoft’s new Surface-branded tablet and laptop fit the bill.

Long-term, the phone-and-desktop concept could also potentially stand as a model for other mobile/desktop OS makers. As other mobile and desktop OSes converge (Apple iOS and MacOS, as well as Google Android and ChromeOS) a similar blended desktop/phone experience option could help businesses bridge the productivity/convenience gap and better support an increasingly mobile, nomadic employee workforce. 


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