Microsoft Announces 'Mixed Reality' Plans With Windows Holographic

Microsoft says that Windows Holographic, the platform that powers Microsoft HoloLens, enables "a world of mixed reality" where devices work together -- regardless of whether they are developed for virtual reality, augmented reality, or anything in-between.

This "mixed reality" is a place where devices interact with each other to change the way people work, communicate, learn and play. And now Microsoft has opened the platform for partners to create new experiences.

"With Windows 10, we’ve been on an incredible journey with our partners, and today we usher in the next frontier of computing -- mixed reality," said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices.

The are over 80 million virtual reality devices expected on the market, per year, by 2020. Clearly the business opportunity for virtual reality is vast. Yet, today's devices are built with related but differing technologies -- ranging from virtual to augmented reality.

These devices and experiences do not work together today, because of different user interfaces, interaction models, input methods, peripherals and applications. Most virtual reality experiences can't mix real people, objects and environments into the virtual world, making creation and collaboration difficult.

Microsoft says Windows Holographic aims to unites these worlds, enabling innovation across a range of devices. You've got a holographic shell and user interface, perception APIs, and Xbox Live services which Microsoft hopes will enable a "familiar experience" across apps and content.

All Universal Windows apps (of which there are almost a thousand) can run on the Windows Holographic platform.

"In a mixed reality world, devices can offer experiences that extend beyond the virtual world," Microsoft says. "Imagine wearing a VR device and seeing your physical hands as you manipulate an object, working on the scanned 3-D image of a real object, or bringing a real-life holographic representation of another person into your virtual world so you can collaborate."

"In this world, devices can spatially map your environment wherever you are; manipulating digital content is as easy and natural as it is in the real world."

Here's a video from Microsoft to explain how it works:

Microsoft also announced its plans with Intel, Qualcomm, HTC, Acer, ASUS, Dell, Falcon Northwest, HP and Lenovo -- among others -- to build a hardware ecosystem supporting great virtual reality experiences on Windows 10.

Nick Parker, corporate vice president, OEM division, highlighted how Microsoft works hand-in-hand with PC makers, celebrating innovation in hardware from PCs to gaming to Internet of Things "and beyond".