While everyone else is focusing on virtual reality, Microsoft is the only company that seems to be taking augmented reality seriously. That doesn’t mean the company is ignoring virtual reality, however, as it has already formed a major partnership with the de facto king of virtual reality, Oculus VR, while it uses its own HoloLens headset to tackle things on the augmented reality side. It’s a smart move, and it allows Microsoft to put more focus on achieving its ambitious HoloLens goals, but can the company really succeed.
In the days before E3 2015, Oculus announced a brand new partnership with Microsoft that took everyone by surprise. The announcement left me wondering, “What would the future hold for HoloLens now that its maker was involved with another headset?” I previously pondered how the partnership could affect the HoloLens, but following developments before, during and after this year’s E3, I’m now left wondering what is HoloLens’s killer app, if not gaming? Microsoft took to the stage in Los Angeles and unveiled yet another VR partnership, this time with Valve and the HTC Vive – a VR headset slated for a 2015 holiday release. The move has seemingly clarified Microsoft’s aims: in an effort to secure virtual reality (VR) – and augmented reality (AR) – victory, the firm looks content to align itself with other VR/AR makers, rather than against them. This is the smartest move I’ve seen lately from a major tech company, but I can’t help but applaud and shake my head simultaneously. Regardless of whether the HoloLens succeeds, Microsoft has essentially secured a position where it can comfortably wait to see who dominates the market and reap the benefits.