In case you didn’t already know, Microsoft’s augmented reality device, the HoloLens, isn’t running a garden variety build of Windows 10. Instead, it’s running Windows Holographic, which has been specially tailored for computing and navigating in virtual and augmented reality settings. In an effort to ensure the success of HoloLens (and HoloLens-like devices), Microsoft is opening up Windows Holographic to developers.
Microsoft is kicking off those efforts by working closely with the HTC Vive team to help port Windows Holographic to the VR headset. Microsoft’s “end game” is to use Windows Holographic to enable its Windows 10 partners to “create virtual reality devices, augmented reality devices and everything in between.”
80 million devices supporting virtual reality are expected to ship yearly by the turn of the next decade, and Microsoft of course sees the upside to this increase in adoption, hence its continued embracing of openness. Microsoft also sees the opportunity to bring some order to what is becoming the Wild Wild West in virtual reality land (as witnessed by Oculus putting the smackdown on those looking to provide cross platform support with the HTC Vive).
“Many of today’s devices and experiences do not work with each other, provide different user interfaces, interaction models, input methods, peripherals, and content,” explains Microsoft’s Terry Myerson. “This is because they lack the human, environmental and object understanding that is already built into Windows 10.
Microsoft in essence is looking bridge the gap and serve as a friendly go-between to ensure that competing virtual reality hardware platforms shy away from devolving into into petty fisticuffs.
“Providing devices with the ability to perceive the world, breaking down the barriers between virtual and physical reality is what we call mixed reality,” Myerson continues. “Imagine wearing a VR device and seeing your physical hands as you manipulate an object, working on the scanned 3D image of a real object, or bringing in a holographic representation of another person into your virtual world so you can collaborate.”
So far, Microsoft has announced a rather large list of partners that it hopes will help enabled incredible mixed reality experiences including Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, HTC, Acer, ASUS, CyberPowerPC, Dell, Falcon Northwest, HP, iBuyPower, Lenovo, and MSI (among many others).