TORONTO – Microsoft’s fourth iteration of Windows 10, launched today, will have a major upgrade featuring mixed reality tools.
Called the Creators update, Microsoft is bringing in more of a 3D look and feel to Windows 10 including new tab management, built-in game broadcasting and enhanced security features such as a new Microsoft privacy dashboard.
OEM partners will be releasing a series of handheld augmented reality units during the launch. Microsoft Alliance partners such as HP Inc., Acer, Asus, Dell and Samsung have new mixed reality products that have been simplified to contain just the headset, controllers and cables.
The Creators update will also have AltspaceVR, a social platform for virtual reality. There will also be a new photo app with Paint 3D. (Read Sidebar: Microsoft Paint is not dead. It just has a new home) The new tools will have access to Windows Mixed Reality SteamVR to test existing content. As an added bonus, there will be a Shared Halo: Recruit mixed-reality experience for Windows Mixed Reality devices from OEM partners.
“Mixed reality gets tricky,” said Microsoft Canada’s consumer PC division leader Amol Shah. The HoloLens was Microsoft’s official entry into this space. Shah clarified that HoloLens is more augmented reality than virtual reality but what Microsoft is trying to accomplish with this new update is a blend – “hence the term mixed reality.”
“We don’t want to distinguish both. The goal is to bring technology on Windows 10 to every person on the on planet. We want to help them to achieve more. If you think back to current virtual reality it’s 96 per cent used by males and mostly in gaming. We want to get away from that a bit and think more about why people are using it,” Shah said.
The potential with mixed reality is within computing sectors but Shah also included social media, lifestyle, education and commercial applications as well.
One of the reasons for virtual reality has not taked off as was expected years ago are centered around four things: it was never simple, the ease of use was low, virtual reality headsets need approximately two hours to set up, and there are 30 plus components associated to the solution.
Plus, virtual reality was never made mobile, Shah added.
Another issue, Shah brought up was lack of content in the ecosystem. Price and interoperability are other issues.
With price Microsoft working with OEM partners have reduced prices by about 40 per cent. All of the new mixed reality units launching today will be priced at under $600.
In terms of content, Microsoft has created the Cliff House, a virtual desktop experience where all business, social, communications and gaming apps are in one virtual environment.
Microsoft Canada is also investing in the Mixed Reality Hub in Vancouver called the BC Tech Cube. The BC Tech Cube will focus on 3D development and has already created 17,000 jobs and more than $2.3 billion in revenue.
The 6,000 sq. ft. Tech Cube is located in the Railtown district of Vancouver and has been designed to support the growth of companies in the AR/VR/MR space and serve as a platform for the community to connect, collaborate and learn from one another. This facility supports early stage entrepreneurs and corporate innovators along with channel partners.