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.