How Microsoft will make mixed reality mainstream in 2017

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 08 December 2016
How Microsoft will make mixed reality mainstream in 2017

2016 has witnessed a swarm of advances in virtual reality. And, according to Microsoft, this will continue into 2017, when it will empower a new wave of creativity, bringing 3D and mixed reality to everyone, enabling every gamer to be a broadcaster and much more.

It’s doing this through the launch of a number of new products. Just yesterday, for example, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group announced the launch of ‘Project Evo’ – a new collaboration between Microsoft and Intel.

“Windows has always been about deep partnerships that marry the best innovation across hardware, software, and services to provide our customers with ground-breaking experiences and great device choices,” he said. “…With Project Evo, Microsoft and Intel will deliver all-new ways for devices to light up with the latest in advanced security, artificial intelligence and Cortana, mixed reality, and gaming.”

Myerson said that, through this collaboration, devices of the future will leverage Microsoft and Intel innovations including: far-field speech communications so you can ask Cortana a question or play a song from across the room; the latest security capabilities to protect devices from malware and hacking threats, advances in biometric authentication with Windows Hello, sophisticated insights from Microsoft’s Intelligent Security Graph, additional world-class security intelligence, and analytics from Intel; mixed reality experiences for everyone through affordable PCs and head mounted displays (HMDs) that blend the physical and virtual realities in ways that no other platform can; and gaming innovations like eSports, game broadcasting and support for 4K, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Wide Color Gamut (WCG), spatial audio, and Xbox controllers with native Bluetooth.

Myerson also announced several new ways in which Microsoft is making mixed reality mainstream in 2017: “We submitted Microsoft HoloLens for government approval in China, and we look forward to making it available to developers and commercial customers in China in the first half of 2017,” he explains. “We shared the specifications that we co-developed with Intel for PCs that will power the first headsets capable of mixed reality. HMDs from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, and Lenovo will be available next year. Joining those partners, 3Glasses, the leading China-based hardware developer for HMDs, will bring the Windows 10 experience to their S1 device in the first half of 2017, reaching more than five million monthly active customers in China.”

As a result, customers will gain access to amazing mixed reality content. This includes more than 20,000 universal Windows apps in the catalogue; 3D objects from the web using Microsoft Edge to drag and drop into their physical world; immersive WebVR content via Microsoft Edge; and 360 degree videos available for the first time in the Movies & TV app. Finally, HMD developer kits will become available to developers at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

“In future Windows 10 updates, we will enable connectivity that is always within reach,” Myerson says. “We will help customers easily buy data directly from the Windows Store and put them in control of how they use Wi-Fi and cellular networks, consume data, and manage costs. We will enable our partners to build always-connected devices without hindering form factor design. Specifically, partners can take advantage of eSIM technology to build devices without an exposed SIM slot, making it easier for people to activate a data plan right on their device.”

Myerson concluded by announcing that, in order to deliver on Microsoft customers’ growing needs to create on the go, Windows 10 is coming to ARM through its partnership with Qualcomm. “For the first time ever, our customers will be able to experience the Windows they know with all the apps, peripherals, and enterprise capabilities they require, on a truly mobile, power efficient, always-connected cellular PC,” he explains. “Hardware partners will be able to build a range of new Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs that run x86 Win32 and universal Windows apps, including Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and popular Windows games.

“With Windows 10 on cellular PCs, we will help everyone make the most of the air around them. We look forward to seeing these new devices with integrated cellular connectivity and the great experiences people love like touch, pen and Windows Hello, in market as early as next year.”

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