While players like Facebook, Sony, and Valve have publicly pursued virtual reality, Microsoft has been more quietly pursuing its cousin, augmented reality. At its Windows 10 briefing today, Microsoft unveiled its HoloLens headset, a see-through pair of glasses that can display images on top of the real-world for viewers.
The headset is said to be available "in the Windows 10 time frame," and includes voice and motion sensors to let users interact with their applications without needing special controllers, cameras, or markers. Microsoft positioned the HoloLens as "the new PC," touting its potential in all areas of computing, from productivity to entertainment.
The HoloLens wasn't the only game-related news of the Windows 10 briefing. Microsoft also announced that Xbox will be more closely integrated into Windows 10. For starters, all Windows 10 devices will have a built-in Xbox app that includes some of the basic functionality of the console, like friends lists, messages, and activity feeds. Windows 10 will also support the game DVR functionality of its console cousin, and cross-platform play in titles like Fable Legends. And for those interested in graphical fidelity, Windows 10 will make use of DirectX 12, which Microsoft claims will offer developers a 50 percent increase in performance.
On top of that, Microsoft is adding remote play functionality to the Xbox One, as players will be able to run the game on the console and have it stream to any nearby Windows 10 PC or tablet.
To encourage adoption of Windows 10, Microsoft also said it will be offering the OS for free in the year after launch. The company also said Windows 10 would mark the beginning as Windows-as-a-service, an approach that will see Microsoft provide continual support for the OS over the lifetime of the devices that run it, free of charge. In practice, this seems to suggest more frequent updates, as Microsoft will release new features as they're ready instead of waiting for a major release.