Windows 10 has been getting fast and furious Insider builds for the past several weeks now, and the latest one, Build 16237, comes with an invitation to developers to Bug Bash for ten days starting July 14.
There were quite a few feature additions in the new Windows 10 build leading up to Fall Creators Update, but one of the more significant ones was a bug that was fixed on Windows shell, which is in consonance with their efforts around Continuum.
In the current Windows shell on Windows 10 Creators Update, and even in the more recent preview builds leading up to 16237, docking or undocking a device often causes certain desktop apps to appear blurry.
Until now, the only solution has been to log out of the app itself and re-launch and re-login. Microsoft has eliminated one step from that process. Now, all you have to do is close and re-launch the app. No need to log out of it.
That’s quite a time-saver, but it also points to the capabilities of CShell, or Composable Shell, that appears to be the future of Windows 10.
CShell is merely a versatile replacement for the multiple shells that are required to run Windows 10 on different device types. For instance, the shell for Xbox One is distinct from the one on a more mobile device.
Now, CShell has been under testing in the most recent Insider builds and was even unintentionally pushed out as an update about a month ago. That bug fix on build 16237 is a crucial one for CShell. Continuum is supposed to be a seamless experience, not a close-the-app-and-re-launch it type of feeling. And it’s good to know that Microsoft recognizes this.
Moreover, the Continuum experience – as delivered by CShell – are critical to the Surface Phone concept of a cellular device that can render apps beautifully on 4K display no matter what the resolution or device type. That and the ability to emulate desktop applications with the same elan as running UWP apps.
That’s why this little nugget hidden in the latest Windows 10 preview build is so important. The fact Microsoft has had to change the way that information about changes in resolution (dots-per-inch or DPI) are communicated to the apps themselves shows that CShell technology is very much a work in progress.
And that cascades into an argument for Surface Phone being delayed, again. CSHell is a critical component of Surface Phone, and if CShell is still very buggy, it could be some time before we see a fully functional and relatively bug-free version.
In fact, just yesterday we reported that Surface Phone could already be in test mode at Microsoft:
“at least two independent sources have confirmed that a possible Surface Phone device has been “floating around campus.” The “mobile-type” device purportedly runs CShell, a Windows shell that can dynamically work with multiple device types.”
That means we could be very close to a Surface Phone release – possibly in the next six to twelve months, even. That’s “very close” considering how many years the Surface Phone has been on the radar.
That said, if CShell has flaws at basic levels such as communicating screen resolution switching to the apps, it could be a very long 2017.
Surface Phone is deeply intertwined with CShell and Continuum, as it is with x86 emulation on ARM64. It must have both capabilities. Or else it’s not Surface Phone.
Microsoft will possibly release a few larger devices to test the waters. Disguising a smartphone as a tablet isn’t that hard to do these days. But once the company is fully satisfied that such a cellular-PC marriage will work – and work crazily well – that’s when we’ll see the real Surface Phone.
We’ve waited so many years for Surface Phone. One or two more won’t hurt.