When it comes to Windows 10 for Phone, we are going to see a whole lot of improvements around USB support in the release coming this summer. At the WinHEC event in China, the company outlined how they are going to be changing the way USB works on the platform and they are all positives. First and perhaps most importantly is the support for USB Type-C, the new standard in USB connectors. Apple as you may know recently announced a new MacBook that only has a USB Type-C connector for everything: Power, Display, etc. Some didn’t take kindly to it but now that Microsoft has pushed support for it into Windows 10, it’s another indicator that this is the connection type of choice in the future. The benefits are clear as Type-C has far more power and potential functionality than the current connection, Type-A for those that are curious.
The support for USB Type-C connectors opens up a wide range of devices that will be supported by baked in drivers in Windows 10 for Phone and there will be a WinUSB style of API that will allow universal apps to interact with the device. This is important for universal apps to be truly universal in their functionality.
As for the USB hosts that will be supported by Windows 10 for Phone out-of-the-box, it’s pretty impressive.
- USB Hubs
- HID for keyboards and mice support
- USB Mass Storage
- USB Audio in/out support
The HID support is important, especially given that the Windows 10 for Phone SKU is defined for devices up to 7.99″ screen size in size. That means current Windows 8.1 tablets that are 7″ could (and likely will) be running Windows 10 for Phone. Having keyboard support on these devices will be critical and to a lesser extent so will mouse support. Also, they showed how you would be able to connect an external monitor to a device running this SKU which again will empower the small tablets running it to be even more productive. In fact, as you can see from the slide screenshot to the right, there will even be the potential to connect a Xbox controller to your Windows 10 for Phone device. Halo: Spartan Assault anyone? 🙂
Ultimately it looks like Microsoft is very focused on making the mobile device not just mobile but fully functional. USB Type-C support will bring that to fruition in a big way.