Microsoft Corp. invited its Windows 10 hardware partners to create virtual reality (VR) devices, augmented reality devices and everything in between with Windows Holographic, the platform that powers Microsoft HoloLens. In opening up Windows Holographic to partners, Microsoft shared its vision for mixed reality — a world where devices interact with each other to change the way people work, communicate, learn and play.MyPOV – Microsoft move back to its DNA, going back to the OEM model that has served the vendor and partners well in the past for the PC. Back at Microsoft’s Build conference earlier this year, we pointed out who Hololens was the first new category platform that Microsoft has completely built from scratch. Microsoft now abandons this exclusive (Apple style) strategy now, which is probably a good move, as it goes back to the Microsoft DNA, working with hardware manufacturers to produce devices, while maintaining the standards and control of the software platform.
MyPOV – Good quote by Myerson, good pitch on Microsoft’s vision for the future of enriched experiences, that Microsoft calls ‘mixed reality’, differing the offering from augmented and virtual offerings with other vendors in the market.
“With Windows 10, we’ve been on an incredible journey with our partners, and today we usher in the next frontier of computing — mixed reality,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices.
Windows: The only holographic platformMyPOV – Good description of both the market opportunity and the challenge, the confusion and different standards, of course pitching the Microsoft direction of ‘mixed reality’. My hope would be so to see more device diversity as a consequence of this move for the Microsoft ‘mixed reality’ ecosystem – it’s the diversity that has propelled Android to the clear leader as mobile OS. Doing this around a common standard is a very important move to make sure that the still to be created software can reach enough customers.
With over 80 million virtual reality devices expected in the market, per year, by 2020, the business opportunity for virtual reality is vast. Yet, today’s devices are built with related but differing technologies — ranging from virtual to augmented reality. These devices and experiences do not work together today, because of different user interfaces, interaction models, input methods, peripherals and applications. Most virtual reality experiences can’t mix real people, objects and environments into the virtual world, making creation and collaboration difficult.
Windows Holographic unites these worlds and enables innovation across a range of devices. Windows Holographic offers a holographic shell and user interface, perception APIs, and Xbox Live services, enabling a familiar experience across apps and content. All Universal Windows apps can run on the Windows Holographic platform. Today there are nearly a thousand Universal Windows Apps that run on Windows Holographic.MyPOV – Good description of what Holographic is, effectively a platform for Microsoft’s mixed reality vision. Surprising in our era, that strongly emphasizes platforms, that the word platform is missing here. And good to see the link to the Universal Windows Apps, a key value proposition from Microsoft to developers, as these apps run across different Windows devices and form factors.
MyPOV – Unusual to see use cases for products in press releases – obviously Microsoft was compelled to describe the advantages of the mixed reality proposition.
In a mixed reality world, devices can offer experiences that extend beyond the virtual world. Imagine wearing a VR device and seeing your physical hands as you manipulate an object, working on the scanned 3-D image of a real object, or bringing a real-life holographic representation of another person into your virtual world so you can collaborate. In this world, devices can spatially map your environment wherever you are; manipulating digital content is as easy and natural as it is in the real world. Interested partners can learn more at http://www.winhec.com.
In addition to opening up Windows Holographic to its partner ecosystem for the future, Microsoft is working with Intel Corporation, AMD Inc., Qualcomm Inc., HTC Corp., Acer Inc., ASUS, Dell Inc., Falcon Northwest, HP, Lenovo Group Ltd., MSI and many others to build a hardware ecosystem supporting great virtual reality experiences on Windows 10.MyPOV – This is an impressive list of partners and it is good to see Microsoft tapping into the partner ecosystem.
Overall MyPOVThere are two schools of thought when bringing new platforms to market – there is the Apple model – that controls all aspects of the platform, including manufacturing… the alternative is Google’s Android (or Microsoft Windows) model, defining the spec for the platform but leaving it to the market and competition of many manufacturers to provide the devices. There are pros and cons for both approaches, what is hard is when vendors who follow e.g. the Google / Android model switch to the Apple model. I saw that being the case with Microsoft and Hololens, but with this announcement Microsoft has headed back to familiar waters. And maybe it was all creating enough of a proof point for Hololens to create attention, attract demand and test and validate the platform.
And maybe Microsoft planned it that way, maybe it had to react to Google, which equally went into a partner spec model for its AR / VR offerings – see my event report of Google I/O here. And for Microsoft Build below.
Overall this is a key first step for Microsoft to make its mixed reality platform reality in the markets. First you need to sign the partners up, then they need to make money etc. – The good news for enterprises is that the partner model creates choice and competition. Chances that an attractive Hololens offering comes along in a second tier market have gone up. Purchasing managers are sleeping better knowing there will be more of competition for devices. Developers can already see uptake of the Windows Universal Apps, an important promise that Microsoft came through from the last Build conferences. Now the main challenge remains – as with all of augmented / virtual and mixed reality – time to create the new apps that these platforms need. With this announcement Microsoft has done a key step towards success for the Holographic platform… stay tuned for more.
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