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Microsoft HoloLens eyes enterprise adoption amid crowded field

Clint Boulton | Oct. 17, 2016
Microsoft is positioning its HoloLens augmented reality headset for businesses, but analysts say it must clear hurdles such as cost, technical and competitive challenges.

Healthy skepticism abounds

Such commercial scenarios underscore why Microsoft is confident in its ability to make HoloLens the VR standard for commercial industry. And the currently modest market for AR/VR devices is set to boom. Forrester Research estimates that 52million units of VR head-mounted displays will be used by enterprises and by consumers use in the U.S. by 2020.

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But analysts aren’t ready to proclaim HoloLens as the go-to device for enterprises.

Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder says that while HoloLens is an important device, it has several limitations, including its $3,000 price tag. It’s also heavy – you won’t want to wear it for more than two hours. It also has a narrow field of view and can’t be used outside in bright light.

However, Gownder expects Windows Holographic will eventually lead to new form factors. “I would be looking to new Windows Holographic devices from Microsoft's partners that solve those problems,” Gownder says.

Gartner’s Blau says a new collaboration between Microsoft and Intel raises questions about HoloLens’ future. Last month, Intel unveiled Project Alloy, the chipmaker’s bid to create an all-in-one VR display that is similar to HoloLens. Microsoft agreed to optimize Windows content and experiences in Intel’s Alloy device and the two companies will help foster a range of AR/VR devices for business and consumer markets.

“We don’t know if that is the future of HoloLens, if HoloLens gets merged into whatever Project Alloy is,” Blau says. Microsoft is expected to unveil more details about its collaboration with Intel, as well as OEM partnerships, at WinHEC in December.

What Blau is certain of is that AR/VR leaders will include global ecosystem vendors, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Samsung, which have cultivated platforms in mobile, cloud, social and other key technology categories. “The same [ecosystem phenomenon] is going to happen in immersive technology,” Blau says.

Microsoft, which, added mobile device management, Azure Active Directory support, BitLocker data encryption and VPN remote access, to make HoloLens more appealing to enterprises, remains confident in its position.

“HoloLens is on a multi-year journey and we are currently focused on developers and enterprise scenarios,” Scott Erickson, general manager of Microsoft HoloLens, tells CIO.com via email.

 

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