Windows Holographic to Create “Mixed Reality” Platform

Colin McMahon
Jun 10, 2016

At the Computex 2016 trade show, recently held in Taipei, Taiwan, Microsoft unveiled ambitious new goals for its Windows Holographic operating system (OS). Windows Holographic will no longer be confined to the Microsoft Hololens. Instead, it will usher in “mixed reality,” which is defined as the combination of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Microsoft will accomplish this by opening Windows Holographic to the emerging VR market, allowing the OS to run on devices like the HTC Vive. This move will also allow a multitude of third-party developers to create apps for Windows Holographic. This announcement translates into a massive expansion for the developing Microsoft platform.

Windows Holographic operates off the already-released Windows 10. This means that many tools, including the Holographic Shell (its virtual startup menu), the Windows Store, and Xbox Live will all be available to any VR developer that chooses to begin development on Windows Holographic. Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, stated on the company blog that: “The market for virtual reality devices is expected to be 80 million devices per year by 2020. However, many of today’s devices and experiences do not work with each other, provide different user interfaces, interaction models, input methods, peripherals, and content. And most virtual reality experiences can’t mix real people, objects, and environments into the virtual world, making creation and collaboration difficult. This is because they lack the human, environmental and object understanding that is already built into Windows 10.”


Microsoft appears to have identified a void currently not filled in today’s rapidly developing technology interface landscape. Windows Holographic is being touted as “the only mixed reality platform,” and, on this scale, it is. No other company anywhere near the size of Microsoft has publically invested into this type of software. This places Windows Holographic in prime position to influence the VR/AR market and attract lots of developer attention. Current VR developers working with Microsoft include Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, HTC, Acer, ASUS, CyberPowerPC, Dell, Falcon Northwest, HP, iBuyPower, Lenovo, and MSI.

Presently, it appears that no additional hardware will need to be purchased for Windows Holographic to support VR headsets. Microsoft, however, has yet to reveal full details regarding this new version of Holographic, stating that more information will be made public during an upcoming WinHEC developer conference. Hololens developer kits began shipping this past March. There is currently no concrete release date for this new version of Windows Holographic, although to quote Microsoft at the unveiling: “they’re months away…not years.” Regardless of immediate timetable, InfoTrends believes that this ambitious new iteration of Windows Holographic will position Microsoft to be a commanding presence in shaping the developing AR/VR/Mixed Reality market.

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