Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about HoloLens

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As the mixed-reality arena heats up following Apple’s reveal of the Vision Pro, Microsoft is keen to show it hasn’t forgotten about HoloLens.

In recent months, there have been mixed reports about Microsoft’s mixed reality business. Initially, there were concerns when Congress halted a $22 million Pentagon contract for custom HoloLens headsets, which was followed by layoffs and the closure of the AltspaceVR social platform.

However, Microsoft recently reaffirmed its commitment to the mixed-reality space by announcing plans to move the HoloLens 2 headset to Windows 11. Microsoft has now delivered on this promise with the release of version 23H1 of Windows Holographic.

Windows Holographic is Microsoft’s mixed-reality platform, running on VR goggles such as the HoloLens series. It provides developers with a familiar API for building apps in a 3D immersive environment.

Lola Bryan, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post:

“With this new upgrade, we reinforce our commitment to the platform by upgrading to Windows 11. 

By making this investment, we have optimized our engineering infrastructure and increased engineering velocity.  For end-users, we have increased reliability and predictability of updating apps, as well as the OS.”

The move to Windows 11 is not only crucial for users but also for Microsoft’s ambitions in the rapidly growing mixed-reality market.

With the mixed-reality market projected to reach tens of billions of dollars by the end of the decade and competition intensifying, Microsoft sees opportunities for HoloLens and similar tools in various industrial sectors—leveraging technologies like machine learning and digital twins.

The Windows 11 upgrade brings several new features to the Windows Holographic platform. Users can manually check for updates to Microsoft Store apps, even if the store is blocked by business policies. They can also close all instances of an application in a mixed-reality world and utilise the Microsoft Edge WebView2 control for embedding web technologies in native VR apps.

Microsoft’s commitment to advancing mixed reality through the Windows 11 upgrade for HoloLens 2 demonstrates its determination to compete in the expanding market.

With ongoing developments and improvements, Microsoft aims to position itself as a leader in mixed reality, particularly in industrial applications that harness the potential of emerging technologies.

You can find the full release notes for version 23H1 of Windows Holographic here.

(Image Credit: Microsoft)

See also: Mark Gurman: Don’t expect a cheaper Vision Pro for several years

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