It didn't take long for a platform war—well, maybe more like a skirmish—to develop between the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. With Windows Holographic, Microsoft thinks it has a solution of sorts. Redmond has announced that it is opening up its platform to all virtual reality and augmented reality devices.
Microsoft has been developing Windows Holographic for its upcoming HoloLens device. Unlike the Rift or Vive, the HoloLens offers what Microsoft calls "mixed reality" by displaying images on a clear screen in front of a user's eyes. Windows Holographic builds on elements of the common Windows platform—in fact, all holographic apps are actually Universal Windows apps. Windows Holographic provides mixed/virtual reality components that applications can use, like a holographic shell, an interaction model that integrates hand gestures, and spatial mapping.
Since there's considerable overlap between the components necessary for Microsoft's mixed reality functionality and those necessary for the Rift and Vive experiences, a common platform makes sense, and might prove beneficial to both developers and consumers. Microsoft claims that it already has a number of hardware partners on board, including Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, HTC, Acer, Asus, CyberPowerPC, Dell, Falcon Northwest, HP, iBuyPower, Lenovo, and MSI. Considering the mixed reaction to Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform, however, it's hard to say how the burgeoning virtual reality community will respond to Microsoft's plans.
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