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Microsoft: First version of HoloLens won't be for games

CEO Satya Nadella sees more immediate potential for enterprise applications

Even though the hardware still doesn't have a release date, Microsoft's Satya Nadella is sure that its first iteration will not be primarily targeted at the gaming audience.

Where the myriad virtual reality headsets poised to launch in the next year will focus on games first, the augmented reality experience offered by HoloLens is going a different way. In an interview with Zdnet, Microsoft's CEO stated that its headset will be, "more about developers and enterprise scenarios," in its first version.

Nadella had just finished demoing HoloLens at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, with a focus on its applications with tools like Autodesk and Maya. Despite impressing a global audience with a Minecraft demo at this year's E3, that wasn't necessarily indicative of the company's near-term plans for the tech.

"What we can uniquely do is bridge consumer to enterprise. That's in our DNA," Nadella continued. "I want every technology of ours to seek that out. In the HoloLens case, when I look at the interest, it's amazing how many are in hospitals, healthcare, retail. That's where I'm seeing the interest and we'll definitely go after it."

This could be the most sensible approach for Microsoft, particularly given the HoloLens hardware's limitations in terms of field-of-view. However, games are still very much part of the company's strategy for the technology, with Nadella suggesting that it was one of the factors in its decision to buy Minecraft.

"I wanted a hit game even for the new medium of mixed reality. And we will have that. Gaming will always be a scenario and there will be other entertainment broadly. But, with the V.1 of HoloLens, I want us to push a lot more of the enterprise usage."

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Latest comments (13)

Jordan Lund Columnist 2 years ago
"more about developers and enterprise scenarios" - Speaking as someone who makes a living dealing with enterprise level clients, I guarantee this is a mistake. In an enterprise environment you need a way to translate the hololens experience to a wide audience without having to buy multiple headsets. That's not going to work and as a result the product will be DOA in an enterprise environment.
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Aaron Brown BA Computer Science Student, Carnegie Mellon University2 years ago
This technology seems poised for a huge future in the enterprise and consumer spaces.

I can't wait until the day when you can buy a motorcycle helmet with a ghost recon style augmented reality visor.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 2 years ago
I can't wait until the day when you can buy a motorcycle helmet with a ghost recon style augmented reality visor.
Seriously? I can't wait to see the accident reports coming from areas where people wear those helmets and have that split second distraction that leads to them rolling down a driveway and gently into something that reminds them they need to focus on the road ahead and not what's flashing at them in the VR space.

But that's just the opinion of someone who lives in a city where many people already can't drive anything well because of standard issue distractions like kids, pets, food, and phones in the car. At this point in life I need to find myself a sturdy Michelin Man costume to wear when walking outside. :D
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 2 years ago
In the HoloLens case, when I look at the interest, it's amazing how many are in hospitals, healthcare, retail. That's where I'm seeing the interest and we'll definitely go after it."
This isn't too surprising. Back during the days of the original Kinect camera for the Xbox 360 Microsoft was all about the games but they also noticed that some very creative people were using the camera for many positive non-gaming applications such as assisting in musical performances and showing injury progress in the medical field. They made a video promoting some of these but I was unfortunately unable to find it.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 2 years ago
@jordan

Miracast should take care of sending out the experience to a separate screen.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 2 years ago
@Paul. I can tell you that Kinect is stil very much in those environments. I know people at major universities who are using it for things like watching babies and the elderly to make sure they're still breathing/measuring heart/temp/more, all without uncomfortable leads. There's a lot more, but that's where personal experience lies. Holo lens likewise has diverse potential uses. In the enterprise, its biggest use is going to be in looking at models and project prototypes, so that when one guy points to the trunk, everyone else sees the same thing.
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve2 years ago
@Jeff
Definitely, I've seen far more enthusiasm and interesting applications of the Kinect outside of the gaming and media interaction it was originally built for!

I wouldn't be surprised if seeing some of that 'thinking outside the Xbox' has led quite a few decisions behind the Hololens.
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Aaron Brown BA Computer Science Student, Carnegie Mellon University2 years ago
@Greg Wilcox

Haha that is a cynical perspective and yes I am serious! I play a ton of shooters and the HUD- Heads Up Displays- are always so slick. I want one of my own. To counter your point,much of driving could be automated by this point so the accidents could be less of an issue.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 2 years ago
Pre E3: everybody has gaming goggles, we also need gaming goggles, go make a stage demo including gaming goggles.

post E3: goggles? for gaming??
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 2 years ago
@Aaron: Oh, I live in NYC, so it's a total crap shoot walking down any street here on any day of the week and surviving without almost getting slammed into by someone texting or talking on their phone while operating any sort of vehicle, walking, pushing a stroller and so forth and so on. I've also seen my share of "Well, THAT didn't have to happen!" accidents to know the human machine is far worse than the tech it think it needs to have all the damn time :D

Automated cars bug me even more because you know when (not if) something goes wrong, whatever company that runs them will whip out a pages-long EULA or TOS agreement to say they're not at fault under too many potential circumstances.

"Thank you for using Johhny Cab!" BOOOM!
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 2 years ago
@Greg
Automated cars bug me even more because you know when (not if) something goes wrong, whatever company that runs them will whip out a pages-long EULA or TOS agreement to say they're not at fault under too many potential circumstances.
I, honestly, prefer automated over human controlled any day. Yes, a problem will eventually happen at some point and how it will be handled is questionable, but we are talking about reducing the amount of accidents probably to an unbelievable amount. Making the roads safer and making travel faster. To me, that is more than worth such minuscule problems such as who is at fault when something does happen to go wrong. It's a whole lot better than having to try and figure out which driver is at fault.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 2 years ago
I almost ran up and hugged the Google self driving car stopped at a light outside GDC. The sooner humans driving is banned the better
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Ben Gonshaw Game Design Consultant, AKQA2 years ago
We're definitely going OT now, but there is an inevitability to automated transportation. Automated haulage will be the first stop, the gains over human drivers, with mandated rest times etc. are colossal. There are 3.5million truck drivers in America alone. When you add in the service industry around that, truck stops, food, re-fuelling etc that's a sizeable chunk of people who will be unemployed virtually overnight. The AI revolution in general will have as great an impact on us as the industrial revolution did when steam driven factories completely replaced the cottage industries of the time. Billions worldwide will need to find a new role, one that they can do with virtually no qualifications. There will be mass unemployment.

On the plus side you'll never need to buy a car again, but you'll have a subscription service instead - think Uber meets ZipCar. Just press the button to rent one and it'll show up as you need it, A sporty number for a date, an MPV for a family trip, a tiny one seater for a trip to the shops, and a transit car to get you back again, fully laden. Automated cities will be extremely efficient compared to today and cars are the tip of the iceberg. Our cities are going to change utterly within 25 years. In the meantime, just make sure your kids don't train up for related industries, or fall into being professional drivers, or they'll be stung badly. Get them into a creative industry, like making games :-)
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