Mixed Reality Features of Microsoft’s Windows 10 Fall 2017 Creators Update

We recently upgraded 2 of our PCs to Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creators Update. The update includes “mixed reality” features — 3d image manipulation, video simulation via still image manipulation and more. In a story, “Why Microsoft released a Windows update with a bunch of stuff you may never use” published by the Washington Post on Thursday, October 19th, written by Hayley Tsukayama, Ms. Tsukayama contends

“Adoption of augmented- and virtual-reality technology has been slow for a variety of reasons, including high cost, the fact that they are still fairly new and that their purpose has yet to find a solid footing in the everyday life of consumers.”

The user she has in mind is a consumer. But we think Microsoft decided to include these features for a mostly business audience. So we would counter the pricing of gear required to produce “mixed reality” experiences for businesses is not “high”. Further, given today’s trends in personal computing, PC users will more likely be located at a desk doing some work for business, than they would be using PCs for entertainment. Microsoft also included features, by the way, directed to gamers using PCs in this release.

But the real target for the 3d image manipulation, etc. are businesses.

So why this effort by Microsoft? When word came out a few months ago of Apple & Google’s intentions to shift the “tip of the spear” for augmented reality and virtual reality from hardware, to software, the task of magnetizing customer interest in the underlying technology shifted beneath Microsoft’s feet. Microsoft had made very serious efforts to compete in the emerging markets via hardware, specifically Hololens. Now the game was changing. Worse yet, should Apple & Google’s efforts succeed, the sheer number of devices already capable of playing in their respective AR & VR games will be staggering. Unless …

Unless you look at the number of PCs deployed, albeit for business purposes, running Microsoft software and, in all likelihood, Windows 10. By incorporating these “mixed reality” features into the Windows 10 Fall 2017 Creators Update, Microsoft is equipping a lot of strictly business “eye balls” with the capability of using “mixed reality” experiences. In our opinion, this is a late, but smart move to shore up a base of users for Microsoft’s approach.


Microsoft’s Q2 FY 15 webcast adds some form to the target market for Hololens and word of a formal end to the Windows XP refresh cycle

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthDuring Microsoft’s Q2 FY 15 webcast, Satya Nadella alluded to Windows 10 Universal Apps, and their usefulness for average consumers of Microsoft’s recently debuted Hololens “alternative reality/AR” headset computer.

So Microsoft clearly intends to promote the Hololens to the consumer market. But as to whether or not the consumer market will jump at the opportunity, or not, is another question, which was not addressed during the webcast. It is more likely the early adopters for the device will be organization like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). JPL was mentioned during the January 20th event. As well, a post on the Hololens was published on the official JPL blog.

Another business with an entry in the headset computer business, Oculus also made news the same day Microsoft held its webcast. In an article titled Oculus CEO on its new VR filmmaking venture Story Studio and Microsoft’s HoloLens, Tim Bradshaw summarizes a comment made by Brendan Iribe, the CEO of Oculus about Microsoft’s Hololens, likely target markets and the pace of introducing the technology: “AR [alternative reality] may be further away than Microsoft made it seem last week[. He] suggested the software giant should be “careful” about setting unrealistic expectations.” This opinion seems sensible to me, and, perhaps, one at least the Marketing Communications team at Microsoft might want to adopt.

The rationale behind my recommendation is an article by David Carr, of the New York Times, which appeared on the same day. Carr’s article brings up the whole personal information notion, complete with some thoughts on the level of behavioral re-engineering average consumers will have to go through to adjust to regular use of the Hololens. Of course this type of conjecture hovered around Google Glass for most of its product life. But, nevertheless, stimulating writers like David Carr to voice these opinions so early in the cycle of introducing a product like the Hololens may have been a mistake.

On the question of why the quarter failed to hit all of the analyst estimate targets, it may help readers to note the emphasis Amy Hood, CFO placed on the end of the Windows XP refresh cycle as a reason for these misses. A lot of the commentary already published on the quarterly results have posited notions of serious declines in sales of Windows, Microsoft’s enterprise products, etc. But little mention has been made of the end of the refresh cycle, which may actually make more sense.

Ira Michael Blonder

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