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HoloLens 2 Will Likely Launch Feb. 24: What to Expect

Microsoft hasn't had a big presence at Mobile World Congress in recent years — not surprising given the company's 2017 decision to drop its Windows Phone efforts. But that's going to change with this year's edition of the mobile-focused trade show.

Microsoft today (Jan. 16) sent out invitation for a Feb. 24 reception at next month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Microsoft's event kicks off at 5 p.m. CET/11 a.m. ET. The big news? That could be the HoloLens 2.

It's the guest list that offers a clue as to what Microsoft will be discussing at Mobile World Congress. In addition to CEO Satya Nadella and Julia White, a corporate vice president who leads product management for Microsoft's cloud business, the invitation mentions the presence of Alex Kipman, a technical fellow at Microsoft.

Kipman is best known for leading Microsoft's push into mixed reality, which includes everything from from third-party headsets to Microsoft's own HoloLens. And that's leading to speculation that a new version of HoloLens may be in the works for MWC.

First announced four years ago, HoloLens is an augmented reality headset that's aimed at businesses, classrooms and the enterprise. The headset has been a mainstay at Microsoft developer conferences in recent years, where it's been featured in demos that let you do everything from designing 3D layouts to exploring the surface of Mars. A commercial version of HoloLens costs a cool $5,000, while the $3,000 version for developers is currently listed as out of stock.

A HoloLens demo from Microsoft's 2016 Build conference (Credit: Tom's Guide)

(Image credit: A HoloLens demo from Microsoft's 2016 Build conference (Credit: Tom's Guide))

That's fueled rumors that Microsoft may have a HoloLens 2 in the works. The new version — reportedly code-named Sydney — is supposed to feature a more powerful chipset from Qualcomm. Patent filings suggest that Microsoft hopes to make the next version of HoloLens lighter and less expensive as well.

It's possible that Microsoft might have something else planned for next month's MWC appearance. You don't have to search very hard to find rumors about foldable Surface devices, for example. But with HoloLens long overdue for an update, Barcelona could be the setting for the next chapter in Microsoft's mixed reality efforts.