Microsoft $21.9B HoloLens Army Contract Gets Nudged
Microsoft's estimated $21.9 billion U.S. Army contract on building a mixed-reality headset for tactical operations has apparently hit a snag.
The company has been working on the U.S. Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), which is based on the Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality headset. IVAS is also said to use Microsoft Azure services. In late March, Microsoft estimated that this contract may be worth about $21.88 billion over 10 years.
IVAS Contract Toss-Up
On Wednesday, Janes reported that the IVAS contract had been put on hold, citing a top official on the Army's Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team. However, on Thursday, PEO Soldier issued a press release via a Twitter post that seemed to contradict that notion. PEO Soldier describes itself as "the Army acquisition agency responsible for everything a Soldier wears or carries."
The PEO Soldier announcement stated that the IVAS field testing had just been shifted to "a date later in FY22," adding that "the Army intends to continue developing and fielding this revolutionary, first-of-its-kind technology in FY22."
IVAS has already undergone several field tests for things like vehicle integration, cold and tropical weather conditions, and electronic warfare, per the PEO Soldier announcement.
Some Microsoft employees apparently wanted the company to cancel the Army IVAS contract. A letter to that effect was sent more than two years ago under the "Microsoft Workers 4 Good" name, via a Twitter post, asking Microsoft to use "HoloLens for good, not war."
Windows Holographic 21H2
In other HoloLens news, but on the commercial side, Microsoft announced this week that an updated Windows Holographic version 21H2 release is "now available."
This release is really just a monthly update to version 21H1, but it contains some new features, so Microsoft is calling it 21H2, per the "Release Notes," which offered this description:
This latest release is a monthly update to version 21H1, but this time we are including new features, because of this the major build number will remain the same and Windows Update will indicate a monthly release to version 21H1 (build 20348). HoloLens 2 settings will still display 21H1 even though we're referring to this release as 21H2.
A top feature noted for Windows Holographic version 21H2 is a Moving Platform Mode beta, which "enables the use of HoloLens 2 on large marine vessels experiencing low-dynamic motion."
Other Windows Holographic version 21H2 features include the ability to add "PFX certs via Settings UI" and the ability to "view MDM diagnostic logs on the device." The release also provides "audiovisual feedback when gathering offline diagnostics." Log collection in low storage situations was improved. New CSPs are available for querying data. Notifications on restarts for end users were improved, and updates can be rescheduled via a "smart retry" feature. It's possible to direct end users to a private store on Microsoft Store for Business, and it's possible to block apps by policy.
Windows Holographic is described as "a mixed reality platform developed by Microsoft, built around the API of Windows 10." It uses technology built by Unity Technologies, a maker of a real-time 3-D development platform.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.