OS X Yosemite introduced Continuity, a feature that leveraged the popularity of iOS to let Mac owners send messages or make phone calls directly from a computer. It was one of Yosemite’s best traits, and unique to Apple’s ecosystem. Until now.
Leaked internal builds of Windows 10 have revealed plans to roll out text messaging from Windows. The connectivity will be managed by Cortana, which will route the text to designated phone running Windows 10. Users will also be able to send texts through Cortana via text-to-speech. This same connectivity will also let Windows phones push missed call notifications to the Windows 10 action center.
The main limitation of this, as with OS X Continuity, is the need to own a compatible phone. That’s not a problem for the Mac because the iPhone is incredible popular, but phones running Windows have always struggled, and those based off Windows 10 aren’t even on store shelves yet.
It also seems, at this point, that Microsoft doesn’t plan to emulate iMessage, the proprietary messaging service used to send messages between iOS devices and Macs over mobile data and Wi-Fi rather than SMS. Microsoft does own Skype, of course, which is now integrated into Windows 10 and can be used to send messages. But it doesn’t appear there’s a plan to use it as an SMS replacement – at least not so far. That means texts will always and only be real SMS texts, with the character caps and file sharing limits that implies. Microsoft could always add some form of Skype messaging in the future, and I personally hope it does.
As you might expect, you will need a Microsoft account to use this feature, and Cortana will need to be enabled. Those who have privacy concerns about either will be left in the cold, though they can still rely on a work-around like WhatsApp.
Currently this feature is not entirely functional even for those who are part of the Windows Insider program, and it’s not clear when it’ll be rolled out. Microsoft’s Lumia phones running Windows 10 phones aren’t slated for release until early November.