Did Microsoft Just Leapfrog Oculus Rift With Hololens?

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Did Microsoft Just Leapfrog Oculus Rift With Hololens?

The virtual reality market could be one of the biggest gaming has seen since the console wars got fired up in earnest, and there were no shortage of competitors going after a slice of said market. With Sony and its Project Morpheus and Facebook's Oculus Rift both looking to control major chunks of the market, and a slew of competitors eager for a piece, one of the common questions was “Where is Microsoft?”. Now, we may have an answer with the Hololens, and it may prove to be a leap beyond its competitors already.

The Hololens is a complete holographic headset, due to emerge in the market around the same time that Windows 10 comes out, according to reports from a Windows conference. This is being pushed as beyond a virtual reality headset, going for what Microsoft described as “...holograms mixed in your world” before introducing the whole concept as “Windows Holographic.”

The product of years of engineering, it began with the creation of the Hologram Processing Unit, and from there, the development of an accompanying software kit that allows for hologram creation, as well as the ability to 3D print the resulting holograms on a 3D printer.

Some are calling this just a new spin on augmented reality, while others are wondering if, perhaps, Microsoft may well be farther down the road to a complete holography system years ahead of its competitors, tossing aside one market in favor of control of the next market later on. That would be kind of the opposite of what happened with its mobile phone developments, where it showed up late to the market and fought hard to get into third place.

Yet some have noticed two key points, particularly, Microsoft Holographic and the company's recent purchase of Minecraft. While there are certainly no shortage of applications for a holographic display system, particularly in terms of videoconferencing apps like Skype. But for gaming, this could be something very different. A game like Minecraft works very well for this approach; touch a block to mine that block, drag your finger to move around the map, and so on. Strategy games in particular lend themselves well to such a scenario; anyone who's ever played a Civilization title or a similar strategy game can appreciate how a holographic interface would work, and work well, with such a setup.

But does this mean that Microsoft is conceding virtual reality? That's entirely possible; if Microsoft simply makes it so that the Oculus Rift not only works with PCs but also with the Xbox One, that would be all Microsoft would need to stay in the hunt for this season. Plus, it would have the added advantage of being ready for the next season well ahead of its competitors, and be able to build on that lead from there.

Only time will tell just how this market finally boils down, but there's plenty of possibility ahead that Microsoft may be preparing to leapfrog the competition and give us all an unexpected surprise in terms of the next generation of video game interfaces.

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