Microsoft’s HoloLens holographic headset runs a special version of Windows 10, Windows Holographic. At Computex today, the company announced that Windows Holographic is coming to more than just the HoloLens: Microsoft wants it to be available for all virtual reality and augmented reality/mixed reality systems, from the tethered, fully immersive virtual reality headsets already on the market, to a new generation of untethered HoloLens-like devices.
Windows Holographic builds on the common Windows platform—the NT kernel, the Windows Store, the Edge browser, and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) APIs—that is collectively called OneCore. To this, it adds a range of components designed for mixed-reality computing—things like a custom shell; human-interaction systems that integrate voice, gaze, and hand gestures; and spatial mapping to build models of the world around you—along with specific APIs to use these capabilities in software, extending the core UWP platform.
Today’s announcement shows Microsoft’s intent to develop Windows Holographic into a broader platform still, running not just on Microsoft’s own hardware, but also that of third parties. With PC-based virtual reality currently split awkwardly between the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets—a split that’s enforced by DRM—an attempt to bridge the gap and unify the hardware can only be a good thing. Bringing AR into the mix is also sensible; AR and VR have areas of significant overlap (such as spatial mapping and gestural control), such that it doesn’t seem sensible to reinvent the wheel for each approach.