Now Everyone Can Watch Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Event

Posted on October 4, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 9 Comments

Yesterday, Microsoft hosted a small event in San Francisco to unveiled its vision for Windows Mixed Reality. That event was open to only a small group of press and bloggers, but the Microsoft has posted a video recording of it, so now anyone can see what went down.

I covered the actual announcements elsewhere. But here are some observations from the event.

Closed captioning. For some reason, Microsoft has burned closed captioning into its recording instead of using the soft captioning support built into YouTube. Is Alex Kipman that hard to understand?

Communities. Perhaps understanding that the key to niche market like MR requires an engaged community, Kipman talks about Microsoft’s efforts along those lines right up front.

Era of Mixed Reality. Kipman says that MR is both a new era for computing and a revolution. I don’t see it that way, per se, and certainly not in the short term. But big advances often start off with baby steps. And Windows Mixed Reality is certainly a baby step, more VR than augmented reality (AR) like HoloLens.

Differentiation from mobile. With Apple poised to steal this market away from Microsoft, Kipman claims that the software giant is the only firm to “embrace the entire continuum for mixed reality,” meaning both AR and VR, on PCs, phones, and headsets both opaque and see-through. I’m curious what the phones bit there means.

Differentiation from existing VR solutions on PC. The one true innovation in Windows Mixed Reality is the tracking sensors in the headsets that obviate the need for external sensors. That is, you don’t have to drill into walls or put these things on giant tripods as you do with Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

Spatial OS. Michael Crichton would probably take exception to the notion that Microsoft created the first spatial OS. See: Disclosure.

Addressing my complaints. I have often complained about Microsoft’s deceptive way of showing HoloLens on stage. For Windows Mixed Reality, which, again, is just VR, the firm has changed the presentation. It’s still an all-encompassing third-person view, but that’s less objectionable with VR because of the wider field of view. And I like how the presenter is sort of transparently seen in the middle of it.

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Now Everyone Can Watch Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Event”

  1. Tony Barrett

    VR/MR will, for the majority, mean absolutely nothing, and will not make any difference whatsoever. I'd go as far to say that aside from niche markets that can actually make real use of it, it will fall flat on it's ar*e, and will be relegated to one more failed technology. It's just the industry trying to get people excited about a technology nobody is actually really interested in and doesn't really have a point.

  2. HellcatM

    After the movie Read Player One comes out (if it doesn't suck), I think it'll be a stepping stone to getting people into VR and into looking into MR. People will see its potential and want to buy a headset. The price seems right which is good. The only possible issue I see is the controller. I guess I'd have to play around with it to really know how well they work.

  3. MikeGalos

    Nice to see a full range of AR/VR/MR solutions at multiple price points and multiple targets all using the same API set.


    THAT is what it means to actually create a new platform rather than just doing limited function demoware that only runs on one company's hardware.

  4. CaedenV

    Way back in the early 2000s (~2002-3?)I installed and used a software called 3DNA Desktop, and it was really cool at the time (though looking back it was a bit clunky by today's standards).


    This is everything that promised and sooooo much more!

    I need to save up for a newer GPU first... but I think one of these headsets will be the next big purchase I make. That was a very impressive demo, and I can't wait to try it for myself.

  5. Roger Ramjet

    There is a bit here, it is untrue as someone wrote here yesterday that "they haven't innovated anything". This is still not a convincing mass market thing, but looks like they have aligned their activity well enough that they can push forward somewhat competitively, despite the weakness in mobile. As long as they play to those strengths of the beefier platform where mobile is not yet viable they will do OK. The key is to get to mass business use functionality in 3D apps well ahead of the mobile platforms (requires a more affordable, better functionality, more useable HoloLens), and then it would be a place from where they can turn back around to attack mobility from their niche.

    I like that they provided something for Xbox users, even though it is not like 3D gaming, but there is a + there since gaming has to be in the early adopter bucket for this technology. But they provided a little something for everybody by allowing existing apps to work in a more immersive 2D function. I have always imagined that at least these VR things have the potential to replace other screens based on higher immersiveness and better mobility vs. your 50" TV, or computer monitor, and there will be a niche for that for sure (which also explains what Samsung is doing there, which getting them onboard has to be a big plus). BTW, this explains why Microsoft did not can movies along with Groove just yet. Would be kinda em, bad optics, to jettison the movies just as you are about to demo your 300" screen, but I am sure once they get Netflix, Hulu etc invested in the movie apps, the yank ...

  6. jimchamplin

    This is super awesome. Video won't play in Edge on one machine, but will play in Chrome with no sound. Works fine on another in Edge.


    MAN THOSE GOOGLE DUDES REALLY HAVE SOME TALENT.

  7. Roger Ramjet

    "I’m curious what the phones bit there means"

    At least in the immediate sense, I think they mean their new acquisition AltSpaceVR has social network that includes phone users. See what you can get to claim with a zero cost acquisition ... they could probably leverage that into Apps that work on the Apple & Google kits consistent with Nadella's charge to produce software for every platform

  8. Cy James

    I say 'whatever' to the naysayers, and I know that Paul doesn't seem too excited about the MR/VR landscape either. But I for one am really looking forward to this. Being able to be in another environment when I am creative writing and brainstorming is worth the price of admission to me.


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