Microsoft unveiled their vision of a mixed reality world today at Computex in Taipei.
When Microsoft first announced their HoloLens augmented reality headset, they also showed off their Windows Holographic platform, which let developers build Windows 10 apps and experiences for the device.
Now Microsoft has announced that they want to be a major part of virtual reality too. The company is opening up its Windows Holographic operating system to VR headset manufacturers, giving us a glimpse into their vision of VR headsets interacting with the HoloLens.
The latest concept demo video (above) shows three users, one wearing a HTC Vive, collaborating remotely to design the interior of a retail store. It’s not clear how closely involved HTC will be with Microsoft or whether or not there is any plan to use Windows Holographic software with the VR headset, but it was a surprise to see the Vive make an appearance.
The key to today’s keynote announcement is Microsoft’s focus on compatibility and collaboration with the HoloLens and other VR headsets. Microsoft’s Windows head Terry Myerson and HoloLens architect Alex Kipman emphasized this point even further while on stage, showing a HoloLens user interacting with another person donning a HTC Vive. Since the Vive already has a built in front-facing camera and room-scale sensors, it seems like an obvious choice to show this type of mixed reality collaboration.
Microsoft is inviting manufacturers to “build PCs, displays, accessories and mixed reality devices with the Windows Holographic platform,” and the company announced they are already working with Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, HTC, Acer, ASUS, CyberPowerPC, Dell, Falcon Northwest, HP, iBuyPower, Lenovo and MSI.
With headsets like Rift and Vive already requiring Windows PCs to run VR experiences, you would think integrating Windows Holographic makes sense. But considering VR developers don’t use Microsoft tools or distribute content through Microsoft stores, we’ll just have to wait and see how collaborative everyone chooses to be.
As Microsoft pushes to be the operating system for PC-powered VR and AR headsets, their lack of a mobile platform leaves the gates wide-open for Google VR to take the untethered crown with Daydream VR that is expected to be released this Fall.
Microsoft is planning to outline more software and hardware details at a WinHEC developer conference later this year.