Microsoft has been pretty quiet when it comes to virtual or mixed reality as of late. However, the company's just re-launched Windows 10 October Update is bursting at the seams with new features for both Hololens and Microsoft’s misnamed Mixed Reality headsets.
Hololens’ new feature largely focus on sharing content and creating a more polished user interface. For instance, there’s now a Quick Actions Menu that provides quick access to controls for taking pictures, recording video and adjusting volume. Thanks to a new notification system, Hololens owners can now view and answer notifications similar to how you would on a PC. Other features include projecting Hololens content to Miracast-enabled devices, sharing from Microsoft Edge and Nearby Sharing, which lets you share captured content to any nearby Windows devices.
But while Hololens has gotten a few slick features, one thing that hasn’t improved is the price. Listed for a wallet-warping $5,000, the mixed reality headset is out of reach for the average consumer. And with Microsoft releasing a new slew of business applications, it seems that Hololens is targeting business and enterprise.
Mixed Reality Headsets like the Samsung HMD Odyssey+ or the Acer Mixed Reality AH101 Headset are also learning a few new tricks. One of the most useful is the Mixed Reality Flashlight which lets you take a peek at the real world without removing the headset. We’re also excited about backpack support, which means you can actually use the headset without attaching it to an external display.
Instead, you can just strap on a VR backpack like the HP Omen X and go through the setup process sans monitor. Other features include the 360 Videos, WebVR app which curates a library of 360-degree content and WebVR videos. And if you’re using SteamVR apps, that content will now appear in the Start menu and you’ll have the ability to place app launchers in the Cliff House, the default home space for Windows Mixed Reality.
The Windows 10 October Update also ushers in the beta launch of Microsoft Maquette, a tool that lets content creators make immersive 3D experience without leaving virtual reality. It’s a much more efficient way to work than creating content in traditional 2D and then transferring it the desired format.
These new features are promising, but in the case of Hololens, most consumers won’t get the chance to touch, let alone see those snazzy features thanks to the prohibitive price. And in the case of the Mixed Reality Headsets, the several we’ve reviewed didn’t really impress. We’re not sure if a fresh coat of paint and some new tricks will be enough to convince consumers to give Microsoft’s headsets another shot.