Microsoft highlights the benefits of Edge and Continuum in Windows 10 Mobile browsing

Laurent Giret

Following Microsoft’s Build 2016 conference, CEO Satya Nadella gave a lengthy interview to Business Insider where he addressed the value of Windows phones in the market in 2016. “What is unique about our Windows phones is this Continuum feature,” he explained, and while the ability to connect a high-end Windows 10 Mobile phone to a monitor to emulate a full-sized desktop experience didn’t exactly matter with consumers it has yet to be replicated by Microsoft’s competitors in the mobile space.

In the meantime, Microsoft wants to remind you that Continuum is indeed a very promising feature and the company published a blog post today to explain why Microsoft Edge in Continuum can “provide a full desktop browser experience.” As a reminder, here is how Continuum works on Windows 10 Mobile phones that support the feature:

Continuum allows Windows 10 Mobile users to have a PC-like experience when connected to an external display and a mouse and keyboard. When connected (via a wired dock or via Bluetooth and Miracast), Universal Windows Apps like Office and Microsoft Edge will adapt their interface and behavior to provide a desktop-like experience tailored to mouse and keyboard input.

Microsoft Edge in Continuum mode.
Microsoft Edge in Continuum mode.

On Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft Edge is the default browser and the app is built on the same universal platform that powers the browser on Windows 10 PCs. However, despite Microsoft claims that “Edge in Continuum is nearly indistinguishable from its PC twin,” the browser currently lacks support for browser extensions and it also can’t be used in windowed mode (just like any other app that currently supports Continuum). Still, Microsoft highlighted today three reasons why Microsoft Edge on Continuum provides “an experience that’s as true to the desktop equivalent as possible.”

A common rendering engine

Microsoft Edge uses the exact same rendering engine on both Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, though the mobile version lacks support for some codecs including RTC and Flash. While the absence of the latter is legitimately justified by power efficiency concerns on mobile devices, Microsoft explained that RTC is not currently supported on Windows 10 Mobile because the operating system has “a different background model.”

Switching from mobile to desktop mode

By default, Edge in Continuum sends a desktop user-agent string so websites will automatically recognize it as a desktop browser. Edge should also provide a seamless transition from mobile to Continuum: once your phone is used in Continuum mode, refreshing a previously opened tab on your phone will now automatically display the website in a desktop view if it wasn’t a mobile-specific URL.

Independent scroll

If your phone is running the Windows 10 Mobile anniversary Update, Microsoft Edge in Continuum should now support independent scrolling to provide the same smooth scrolling experience that PC users currently enjoy:

On PCs, Microsoft Edge offloads scrolling from the UI thread to provide a more fluid scrolling experience during page load/painting. In the Anniversary Update, this same feature is now supported in Continuum, even when scrolling via the mouse or keyboard. This results in a smoother experience even while the page is loading or painting.

Microsoft is just getting started with Continuum on Windows 10 Mobile, but Edge in Continuum already provides a pretty solid experience. “We’re committed to making Continuum as close to the desktop experience as possible without adding any additional overhead for Web Developers,” Microsoft claimed, but Continuum in general probably needs a few additional tweaks to make it Windows 10 Mobile’s true killer app. If you already tried to use Microsoft Edge in Continuum, let us know in the comments if you think the browser can provide a PC-like experience.

If you already tried to use Microsoft Edge in Continuum, let us know in the comments if you think the browser can provide a PC-like experience. Microsoft also provides some additional details for web developers in their blog post, and so if that’s you, then head over and get up to date on everything you can do to make your web sites work well with Continuum and Edge on Windows 10 Mobile.