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Ubuntu may beat Windows 10 to phone-PC convergence after all

Chris Hoffman | May 8, 2015
Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth says Canonical will launch a phone capable of being used as a PC later in 2015, possibly ahead of Windows 10 phones.

Despite the recent announcement that Windows 10 phones will be able to be used as PCs when connected to an external monitor, Ubuntu--the first operating system to toy with the idea--hasn't conceded the smartphone-PC convergence race to Microsoft just yet.

"While I enjoy the race, I also like to win," Ubuntu Foundation founder Mark Shuttleworth said during a Ubuntu Online Summit keynote, before announcing that Canonical will partner with a hardware manufacturer to release a Ubuntu Phone with smartphone-PC convergence features this year.

Unlike Windows 10 for PCs, Windows 10 for phones won't be released this summer, so Ubuntu may still get there before Microsoft.

What we know

We don't know much about this Ubuntu phone yet. All we have is a short announcement Mark Shuttleworth made in the larger keynote. Here's what he said:

"I'd like to announce that we are going to ship a device, this year, with a manufacturer--which will fit in your pocket; which will be a phone; and which will give you a desktop experience. So, that pocket PC experience is real on Ubuntu. And, while I enjoy the race, I also like to win. And I bet you do too. And so it will be lovely for us to drive free software first into the convergence world."

Shuttleworth talked up convergence more in this presentation, noting that the Ubuntu Phone's application platform already allows for applications that can resize to fit various screen sizes, from smartphone-size to windows on your desktop. After focusing on Ubuntu Phone's unique interface and design to get it out the door, Canonical is beginning to talk about convergence again.

Windows 10 for phones is slipping

Windows 10 for PCs will ship this summer--in late July, according to AMD's CEO. But Microsoft recently announced that Windows 10 for phones will be released after Windows 10 for PCs. Microsoft called this a "staggered launch," which is just another way of saying the phone version isn't done yet and will be released later.

This is no surprise, as the phone version is in much rougher shape than the PC version. We don't know when the phone version will ship, but we can probably expect to see Windows 10 for phones arrive later in 2015.

Microsoft isn't waiting for third-party manufacturers to take advantage of the convergence features. It will reportedly release a flagship phone codenamed "Cityman" with support for Continuum for Windows 10 phones --Microsoft's name for the process of using a phone as a PC when it's connected to an external monitor. This phone hardware will probably be ready to go around the time Windows 10 for phones is finished.

 

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