At Computex in Taiwan, Microsoft announced on Wednesday, June 1, that the special version of Windows called Windows Holographic and powering its HoloLens headset will be integrated with all its features into the regular versions of Windows 10.
According to CNet, Microsoft is not in a rush to build a traditional virtual reality (VR) headset and cannot give a clear date on when it will launch its augmented reality (AR) headset. Until then, Microsoft will use the combined attraction of VR and AR to help sell its Windows 10 operating system to headset manufacturers, developers and consumers.
Microsoft's decision to open the possibility for VR headset manufacturers to build their own devices using the company's latest OS will stimulate the further growing of this emerging niche market. By adding software support for AR and VR to Windows 10, Microsoft hopes to make using a headset as simple as plugging in any other PC accessory.
In Microsoft's vision, no matter which headset any particular person is using, the company could let people collaborate across different time zones as if they were in the same room. Microsoft platform would allow people to see one another and their surroundings even if one person has a HoloLens and another a HTC Vive, for instance.
This idea sounds good, but the problem is that such kind of scenario only makes sense when at least one person has a HoloLens Development Kit. And, unfortunately, a consumer-ready version of the $3,000 kit will still take years to arrive on the market.
Microsoft, however, aims to harness right away the excitement of the idea of AR and VR collaboration. The company is encouraging developers to build Universal Windows Applications for VR headsets right now. The applications will work later on the HoloLens and other AR headsets. Since HoloLens itself will take years to arrive, Microsoft's strategy makes more sense than asking developers to build apps for its future AR headgear.
According to PC World, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Device Group at Microsoft, declared that "Windows is the only mixed reality platform." The new strategy allows the company to build its share into the VR market, estimated by IDC at 9.6 million units of VR hardware to be shipped this year and 64.8 million by 2020.