Posey's Tips & Tricks

What's Going on with HoloLens?

Roughly about a year ago, Microsoft announced its new holographic computing device, the HoloLens. At the time, Microsoft gave a series of demonstrations that had tech journalists and technology enthusiasts salivating at the very thought of getting their hands on the device. Microsoft didn't initially commit to a release date for the device, but rather stated that HoloLens would be available in Windows 10's lifetime. It has now been seven months since the Windows 10 release, but Microsoft has not yet released HoloLens. So what's going on?

Before I attempt to answer that question, let me just say up front that Microsoft has not provided me with any inside information pertaining to the HoloLens release. Everything is this blog post is being derived from publicly available sources.

So now that I have gotten the obligatory disclaimer out of the way, let's talk about HoloLens. Back around the end of last year, I started seeing chatter on some of the Internet message boards in which people were beginning to speculate that the absence of concrete HoloLens news meant that HoloLens was a failed prototype and would ultimately never be offered to the public. I am happy to report that Microsoft is moving forward with HoloLens. It's just that HoloLens might not be released quite as quickly as some of us might have hoped.

In some ways this is to be expected. According to Wikipedia HoloLens had been in development for five years prior to Microsoft's 2015 announcement. Given how long the development process has taken, it would not exactly be surprising if Microsoft needed another year or two to fix bugs and to refine the product. Once Microsoft settles on a final design, it will also take some time for Microsoft to manufacture the devices. That seems to be the point where we are at right now in the release cycle. Microsoft has begun selling Development Edition devices, and will begin shipping those devices on March 30, 2016.  

Given the fact that some lucky developers will likely have HoloLens in hand by mid-April, you might be wondering what is stopping tech savvy early adopters from picking up a couple of "development units" instead of waiting for the commercial release. Believe me when I say, I tried to do exactly that. However, there are three things that are going to be obstacles for most people.

The first potential obstacle is going to be the price. Development Edition HoloLens devices are selling for $3000. Granted, that might not stop some people, but the average consumer isn't going to plunk down three Gs for an augmented reality headset.

Microsoft has not yet announced release pricing for HoloLens. Some unconfirmed sources have speculated that the price will be between $1000 and $1500. It makes sense that Microsoft would charge more for the Development Edition, because developers are paying for the privilege of being early adopters, and will presumably make money from the software that they develop.

This leads me to the second potential obstacle to purchasing a Development Edition HoloLens. Even if the Development Edition HoloLens hardware ends up being flawless, it isn't going to be able to do very much without software. Developers can, of course, build their own software for HoloLens. The rest of us are going to have to wait a little while for some software to be made available.

I'm sure that right now some of you are saying to yourselves, "Wait a minute Posey. I've got deep pockets and mad development skills. I'm getting a HoloLens". Keep in mind however, there is one more obstacle to overcome. This obstacle is the big one. Microsoft has a very limited supply of Development Edition HoloLens devices. As such, you can't just buy one. Instead, Microsoft requires would-be developers to submit an application. Only qualified applicants are allowed to purchase a device.

Personally, I still think that HoloLens is going to be awesome when it is released. Yes, the development process is taking a while to complete, but that's OK. I would rather for Microsoft to take its time and release a device that proves to be amazing, than to rush development and release a mediocre device that impresses no one.

Given the fact that developers will be receiving HoloLens devices in the near future, I suspect that we are going to begin seeing some online reviews by late spring. I am also predicting that Microsoft will be giving us a much closer look at HoloLens at the Ignite conference this fall.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 16-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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