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Without a phone, Microsoft's AR efforts may be worthless

Microsoft's Hololens is a standalone wearable Windows 10 computer that places 3D holograms in the wearer's field of view and does everything else Windows 10 PCs can. Additionally, Microsoft's Windows Mixed Reality, AR and virtual reality (VR) platform allows developers to build holographic apps for HoloLens and Windows 10 PCs.

Microsoft's HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality comprise a comprehensive platform for the development and deployment of holographic content. With a 500 million Windows 10 install base, Microsoft has a massive mixed reality platform. As impressive as that sounds Microsoft has made little impact in mainstreaming AR.

Microsoft's Mixed Reality mission

With Paint 3D, which allows Windows 10 users to create and share 3D content to Remix 3D, and Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft has empowered developers and consumers of varying skill levels to create content for 3D environments. Microsoft even boasted that 3D is for everyone and demonstrated a yet-to-be released smartphone app called Windows Capture 3D Experience. The app allows users to scan real objects to produce 3D models.

If 3D is for everyone, why isn't Microsoft marketing Paint 3D to anyone?

In conjunction with supporting 3D content creation, Microsoft partnered with OEMs to bring affordable VR headsets to consumers this year. Led by Elizabeth Hamren, former CMO of Oculus VR at Facebook, Microsoft will heavily market these VR headsets.

That covers VR, but what about AR?

With all of its innovation and earlier entry with HoloLens, Microsoft's lack of a successful smartphone platform is putting it behind the competition as rivals are introducing AR to the masses via smartphone-based solutions.

Apple takes a bite out of AR

During Apple's 2017 World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC), the company announced that iOS 11 would include ARkit which will allow developers to bring AR to hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users later this year. This will make iOS the world's largest AR platform.

Compared to the $3,000 HoloLens, which is still limited to select sectors like the U.S. Army, NASA, health care and education, ARkit is a "free" consumer-focused upgrade. Developers are already embracing it.

ARKit is limited to projecting 3D objects within the small window of an iPad or iPhone. Conversely, HoloLens provides a hands-free, and more visually and audibly immersive experience. Still, ARkit opens the door for developers to populate the App Store with millions of AR-specific apps for millions of iPhone users. Apple's smartphone-based AR platform is poised to garner tremendous mindshare that Microsoft's far more advanced but far less supported (with only 150 HoloLens-specific apps and relatively little exposure) can achieve.

Apple's next logical and rumored step will be smartglasses that will reap the benefits of the imminent deluge of AR-specific apps and consumer mindshare. Without a smartphone, Microsoft will struggle to combat this level of support and accessibility to AR. The only AR device Microsoft has is HoloLens, and an affordable consumer version is years away. Even if an OEM partner brings a Windows 10 AR headset to market, it will do little to combat the massive developer support, and mindshare Apple's ARkit will achieve. The smartphone which is the nexus for a number of emerging technologies is proving to be the bridge to mainstreaming AR.

Google grapples with VR and AR

Last October, Google introduced the Daydream View headset which allows users to use VR-ready smartphones like the Galaxy S8 and the Moto Z to experience VR. Google's Daydream VR goals include support for standalone headsets, like those from Vive and Lenovo, that won't require a smartphone or PC. Google's wearable VR efforts will compete with Microsoft's Mixed Reality VR headset strategy. Apple has no compelling contender in this arena.

Like Microsoft's efforts with Paint 3D, Google is providing users with tools to create 3D content for virtual worlds. Unlike the 2D PC-based environment Microsoft employs, however, Google uses the virtual world, via a VR headset, as the canvas using its Blocks and Tilt Brush applications. Blocks allow users to create, move, paint and modify their 3D creations with natural gestures, as seen in the video below.

Paint 3D has the advantage of being available to millions of Windows 10 PC users while VR headsets are still niche. Microsoft's baffling problem, however, is that it's not marketing Paint 3D, its purpose nor its potential. Like many things, it seems Microsoft will allow the competition to outmaneuver it due to its failure to execute.

Google 'tangos' with AR

Google's Tango, which supports the company's AR and VR investments, allows devices to track distances and their position. The technology has been used for AR to superimpose virtual objects over the real world. Tango is also an essential part of Google's Visual Positioning Service (VPS) which allows devices to perceive and understand their positions indoors.

Like its successful efforts with its VR-focused Google Cardboard, Google is bringing AR-based lessons to the classroom via its Pioneer Program this school year.

As seen in the above video, the smartphone-based AR platform allows students to view 3D objects in their physical environment. Google's investments in smartphone-based AR and VR in the education sector are grabbing mindshare among the next generation.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft's HoloLens is being used in the education sector as well and provides a much more interactive experience than the phone-on-a-stick experience Google's solution provides. Still, the costs for each solution most certainly leans in Google's favor.

Google gets to the ARCore of the matter

Google's ARCore is a smartphone-based AR solution that builds on the technologies pioneered by Tango. Like Apple's ARKit, ARCore will be deployed on existing Android hardware running 7.0 Nougat or above. Samsung's Galaxy S8 and the Google Pixel are among the first of these devices. Google's goal is to bring AR to 100 million devices by the end of the preview and is working with a number of manufacturers like ASUS, LG and others to accomplish this goal.

Google demos ARCore.

Google's goal is to extend beyond the tabletop-type AR experiences it shares with Apple's ARKit solution. It's VPS will allow the company to produce world-scale AR experiences. Google's AR ambitions also extend to the web, where it is providing web developers with browsers to begin creating web-based AR experiences. AR-enhanced websites, via these browsers, will run on both Android's ARCore and iOS's ARKit.

The mere news of Google's and Apple's AR efforts is beginning to overshadow Microsoft's methodically executed and comprehensive accomplishments. Once consumers begin experiencing AR on their iPhones and Android smartphones, seeing an obscure HoloLens video or reading about a future HoloLens may impress, but that abstract exposure will be quickly overshadowed by the real AR experience in the palm of users' hands.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

134 Comments
  • Thanks Capitan Obvious!   Sorry Jason,  I like you but I had to!!!!
  • yeah... I feel like this was the core essense of the two comments I posted in Jason's last article in this series. Without a presense in Mobile, Microsoft will continue to have all its great ideas stolen from them by Apple and/or Google who can execute faster and better on the shoulder of their mature ecosystems. AR?  AI? Foldable phone/tablet hybrid?  All of them already being "stolen" from them by the Apple/Android camps.
  • Sorry bud...NOTHING is being "stolen" as you suggest!  Its called progress.   As much as Mircosoft likes to think they were first,  google was actually first.   
  • What is it with people and whose first? You do know none of the big tech companies have little to no history in the birth of AR right? AR as well as VR have been around for decades, so drop the who's first crap.
  • are you talking to me?  if so,  I was just commenting in the realm of tech companies,  GOOGLE AND APPLE did NOT "steal" anything from microsoft.  the little fangirls here think Microsoft invented everything and apple and google steal it all.  
  • Steve Adams, any reason why you are throwing gender around as an insult? Aren't you capable of presenting your argument without insulting people? 
  • lighten up francis...its a friggin joke.  RELAX!  damn,  the fanpanzies here are rediculous.
  • MS have shot both their feet off retrenching mobile but IMO AR VR on a phone will be a novelty/ gimmick at best. MS just might be positioned very well here with the power to run powerful programs. IMO opinion, this is where the future will be complex programs in science, medicine and technology as opposed to donky kong VR on your mobile phone. Time will tell  
  • He's always telling me to read his other pieces. Well this article is actually more interesting just because I'm not so informed about apple and google AR experiences but that's about it. We know Microsoft will fail because they have no phones thus no customer interest thus no app dev interest, thus they are doomed to fail. Thinking they can skip to the next thing while leaving the 3% they had (10-15 in Europe) is just stupid.
  • Ok people, settle down...next month Surface Phone is going to be released...  ... may be..  
  • Paul Thurrott has been saying this all the time since ARKit and ARCore were announced! Without a mobile presence, it will be Apple and Google , not Microsoft who will lap up the AR/VR market.
  • Forgotten this already, have we? https://www.windowscentral.com/why-death-windows-10-mobile-good-thing
  • Absolutely not😉theefman. That piece focuses on the transition from a market rejected, poorly supported (by Microsoft) and limited phone OS to a full context-conforming Windows OS on new content sensitive pocketable PC hardware. This piece as you can see in the text focuses on the current absence of a smartphone as the competition uses smartphones to mainstream AR.😉 It's all in the text. You just have to read to see the differences.😉 Your focusing on the limited info in the headlines for a snarky response isn't reflective of the level of discourse you can bring to the table.👍🏿
  • Evrything is going as planned. Things are great on the MS homefront, no worries here. MS has a bright future ahead!
  • In AR/MR no not really. Hololens was cutting edge but targetted as a concept device, what few talked about were the many Hololens alternatives in the enterprise space, not as good but for some good enough and all of these are Android powered not a single Windows system to be seen. Now Google and Apple are going to fill in the gap and build out the consumer side before eventually taking over the enterprise side. Meanwhile MS is launching VR headsets which is comically late to a party that is already over. It's the Windows Mobile debacle all over again were MS was on the right track internally with touch phones, then saw the rise of Blackberry and chased them only to get blindsided by the iPhone. The market will totally fall in love with Hololens next gen (of course it wont). MS needs Windows 10 Arm PC glasses on the market right now for 600-800 dollars if they stand any chance of claiming the AR/MR space. They need to leverage the hell out of Xbox games with Arm ports of existing Windows Store titles so not just gimmick AR games but proper games like Halo Wars or Forza also play on them. They aren't doing any of  that.
  • Say what?!  What does that article have to do with this one?  Did you read both of them? If you don't mind if you can expound on what was so easily forgotten from the linked article to this one?  Context please.  Or is it you're just trying to be the leader of "bash" on Jason day again.  Looks like Steve Adams beat you to it.  :)  
  • No matter how W10M was performing, it shouldn't have been forgotten by Microsoft. Those people just lack foresight.
  • They never should have released it in the first place. Nadella should have started from scratch with a new platform for the future. Windows on phone will never be a thing.
  • Not released in the first place? Really? The one core vision falls flat without a mobile play.
  • It falls even flatter with a extremely poor mobile play Like W10M. They should have started over with something new and at least had a chance. W10M was pointless, it just wasted time and now Microsoft has nothing to show for it.
  • They did start over, numerous times. That is part of the problem. At least with W10M being a stepchild of Windows 10, it appeared as if it would have life as long as W10 did. It wasn't a totally distinct effort. That still seems to be the case, though there is very limited adoption and no apparent interest from MS. Clearly they still have interest as there is still effort being expended on mobile evidenced by insider builds. I think maintenance mode wouldn't justify those builds. They could just do minor bug fixes and security updates in the production version and be done with it. So something seems to be on their minds for the future, they just have deigned to let anyone know. That's unfortunate, because after a while no one will care, and they will have an even harder time garnering interest.
  • I am sure they don't know exactly what their plans are for mobile. Anything they announce now will probably be just a guess. They never actually started over. Each "reboot" didn't change anything significant. W10M was basically the same as WP7. What is the point of rebooting if you are just going to release the same thing with the same strategy? Did they really think the kernel was the issue with WP7?
  • In what universe is W10M basically WP7?! The only thing they shared was Live Tiles, and even then different implementations of them.
  • Everyone knew this all along, just Microsoft and Nadella are stupid enough to think they can achieve anything without a solid mobile platform.    
  • I think they just recognized it wasnt going to happen. It was lost before WP7 ever came out. They should have beat Google to having the first and best iPhone alternative. Once they missed that, it was done. It would have been a hard road even if they had done that. IMO, too many in the market dont want MS dominating their computing world anymore and are willing to use ANYTHING else, even if its inferior. 
  • BS Meter just went off, "Once they missed that, it was done." Sears and Kmart would still be dominating retail if that were true, or if every CEO was like Nadella and ran from a fight. But Walmart didn't quit because the market already had dominate players in the market. Amazon wasn't scared off by Walmart either, and kept digging despite years of losses. Nadella failed to realize that the home base for all consumer tech in the future will begin with the consumers phone. He thought he could afford to lose the platform battle, but still win the services war. He's an idiot. People will chose services (email, cloud storage, maps, etc.) that come native with their phone, they will chose tech devices designed to work with their phone and services (thermostats for example), they may even buy cars and smart because they work with their phone. They will definitely choose AR/VR technologies that work best with their phones. Why? Because that is the base position for everyone today "Does it work with my phone?" He understood this when he made MS Office available on iPhones, but then he failed to grasp the what it meant. To be clear, he should have ported Office to iPhone and Android, but it should have terrified him that while he was being forced to bring Office to Android, Google was easily ignoring Microsoft platforms. Why? Because Android's market share in phone made Microsoft subservient to Google. He needed to take the growing 5% share in the US, and 10% share in the EU that he inherited and doubled-down. He should have simply extended support of Windows 7 for PCs, and through everything they had at mobile. That was the OS that should have been the base for the future, and some fights you simply cannot afford to lose. Phones will evolve, but they will remain the core of peoples technology choices for decades.
  • I completely agree with you...they shouldn't given up so easily...buying Nokia was a bad move..may be it was necessary as they had no other choice...but giving up so easily after such a big purchase doesn't make sense ...
  • Oh, no, Windows 7 has nothing for mobile. Go back and look at WM6, and even some of the early small touch tablets with Win7 on them. They were just not friendly for touch use. There were certain things that were possible but you eventually needed the stylus that came with them. That was the crux of Jobs' famous statement. Apple built an OS where you didn't need one. MS built one with WP7, but it had little commonality with their PC OS at the time. It wasn't 'Windows'. They fixed that with Win 8 on the PC, but that didn't go over well. People didn't want, or need, touch on their desktops. It did force OEMs and developers to think about touch in Windows though. There was never anything stopping them in Win 7, there was just no clear advantage. Win 8 forced OEMs and developers, and consumers of Windows, to consider touch.  Certainly agree that Win10M has been shelved too early, at least outwardly, but a Win7-ish mobile OS, wasn't going anywhere. Not with the iPhones superior UI (yes, for something you want to use one handed, for the majority of folks, superior)  Interestingly, MS did know how to make such an interface. Zune was released in 2006 (with apps). The first iPhone was 2007.  To bad MS didn't just throw a cell capability into the Zune ;)   Oh well. 20/20 hindsight. 
  • Said it once, I'll say it again, retrenchment puts the entire windows platform at risk.
  • Retrenchment was a neccessary measure and a result of their failure many years prior. WP7 was a year or two too late. They lost it when they let Android take the #2 spot behind the iPhone. Looking back now, I dont think there was anything they could have done starting in 2010 to get back in the game.  And yes, it puts the entire Windows platform at risk.   
  • Even if they beat Android, Google's superior strategy would still have won. You don't lose that hard unless you have a really poor strategy and/or platform. Google putting the OEMs in control was a brilliant move and would have steamrolled Microsoft either way. Palm beat everyone to market and that certainly didn't help them.
  • Maybe, I dont know. If Windows had the better experience, it still could have won. As an early Android user, I hated the OEMs (and carriers) having control. Palm didnt let any OEM use Palm OS did they? They were trying to be like Apple. You cant out-Apple Apple. 
  • Microsofts biggest problem was the windows license. Had they promised protection from lawsuits, given WP for free, android would have died. 
  • It would have taken quite a bit more than that. You don't lose that hard for something so simple. You might not win, but you at least do well and stay in the game. Microsoft were totally knocked out of the market. It would a bit more than decreased license costs. I am sure Android costs more when you add in patent royalties and development costs. Microsoft does at all for Windows Phone, they even strictly tell you what hardware you can use. Development costs for Android have to be much more expensive but for some reason OEMs felt it was worth it. Why would that be?
  • How is something like Palm, Inc. comparable to such a giant as Microsoft or Google? You see how you ignore much more important factors to just focus on the one point you like?
  • The whole point of AR or mixd reality is that you look at the world through glasses, that's why AR on a smartphone is a total nonsense IMO, I dont see it taking off at all for Google and Apple.
  • Headsets aren't ready yet. Google and Apple will have a full range of apps when they are because they have users today.. Microsoft will not have that luxury. Once again they will be trying to compete without an ecosystem.
  • Don't kid yourself.   Apple will have glasses that are sleek,  and very non intrusive out within 8 months of the ar kit being installed on all supported iphones.  unlike the buck rogers space helmet that ms has now.  apples glasses will look like a normal pair of reading glasses until you put them on.   They will get their processing power through the iphone,  but you will keep your phone in your pocket and be synced wirelessly to the glasses.  a MUCH better and more cohesive solutions than the football helmet hololens. 
  • ^^ It also comes with a unicorn attached.
    This guy has some inside info on Apple the whole world lacks!
  • Only his timeline was incorrect. It will take years for Apple to release the glasses and they might not need to be powered by an iPhone.
  • Yeah technically the only thing wrong with Jason's articles is also "the timeline". But timeline is everything in this business.
  • just like the mythical surface phone hey Agent?   I may be off by a couple of  months...but I can guarantee the apple 'glasses" are a hell of alot more REAL than the surface phone!
  • @Steve Adams
    Who said the Surface phone would even exist?
    You're off by an entire comment not a couple of months.
  • That makes no sense. The iPhone wirelessly powering the glasses. Don't jump to star wars/star trek levels yet. I don't get how or why you keep thinking something that doesn't exist is going to be better than whatever Microsoft has or will have. You keep talking about having sleek glasses which will do everything what hololens can do and more, but that level of tech in a sleek design doesn't quite exist yet unless you have sources that no one is aware of.
  • I did not say POWER...I said,  run...there is a difference...Just lilke the apple watch connects to the iphone to do certian things...the glasses will connect to the phone to do certian things...not that STAR TREK out there if you have open eyes and are not fanboy freaks.....it's already done with the watch and phone.   Microsoft fanboys would not know anything about how accessories work with phones since microsoft kill their band,  and phone....and......and........Android users would now,  and now the android phones will be connecting to windows 10 desktop better than windows 10 moible ever did.
  • woo hoo fanpanzy downvotes....keep it up crybabies!
  • Sure, but no one has these headsets and everyone has a phone in their pocket. You get it on phones and you lock in the developers to your platform. Then, you bring out a headset in a year or two with a robust market of apps and developers already in place and MS is completely cut out.
  • DING DING DING we have a winner.  Pallentx.  You hit the nail on the head....how many major first party apps are going to be ar for IOS and android in the next 3 months......THOUSANDS...how many first party apps aer going to be available for hololens...3...
  • Maybe, but I don't see how the experience will be the same or how it wouldn't require the apps to be redesigned in some way. I could be wrong though.
  • sure the AR apps written for mobile would need redesign with the move to glasses ...but if the platform evolves along with the developers...they would feel more loyal to the platform ...I think 
  • Since you obviously are closed minded to mirosoft only,  unlike others here.....cough me cough.  You would have seen the arkit in action....developers by the hundreds are already creating ar apps for apple.  On release day, IOS 11 will have AR built in.   When connected to the ineveitable glasses from apple,  you will have a "hololens" type expereince without the bucket of chicken on your head.   NOT THAT HARD TO SEE WHATS COMING....and NO...they are not released yet.....obviously....but I can almost guarantee they (apple and android) are working on them.   They see that AR monstrosites are not where AR is at.   and sleek glasses are!
  • The upcoming AR wave will obviously try to leverage the ever increasing mobile platform computing power. With Microsoft's HoloLens offering, you have to carry a dedicated computing platform, thus the inaccessible price point. Now that the company kicked itself out of the mobile market, they will be cornered, trying to compete on the price point for their AR to succeed. To make things worse, the technology evolved enough in the last 2 years to get rid of dedicated positional hardware and offer high quality results with normal RGB cameras, making HoloLens appear even more uselessly expensive. Unfortunately for Microsoft, both Apple and Google will be able to rely on their mobile platform to support their AR offering, providing a very cost effective solution for consumers. Microsoft relevancy will take another hit very soon.
  • Microsoft is building an entire platform from the ground up FOR AR, not a framework for AR on a device meant for 2D interactions. The method of interaction is a crucial difference between them, and the fact that HoloLens was build with Holographics in mind FIRST is key to its success. You can only get so far with a smartphone camera and snapchat-like holograms, whereas HoloLens has the right hardware to do more and do it better, and even if ARkit/ARcore kick off, HoloLens is still a superior, premium product. It just needs to be affordable and have new tech inside it to reduce size.
  • How superior will Have be in 5 years when it finally launches? Especially when it does have an ecosystem built up?
  • Apple is building the same, but getting developers and a store for of apps already in place before Hololens ever sees a consumer version hit the shelves. Google and Apple's AR is 3D in the digital realm. The 2D phone is just the current viewer you already have in your pocket. A 3D viewer will come from Apple and Google too, and they will have a wealth of content available. MS will be on the sidelines begging developers to come over and make stuff for them too. 
  • Apps are built around end user interactions. Apps developed for smartphones, whether they let you SEE Holograms or not, are still apps for smartphones. Every single developer will need to redesign certain aspects of their app for whatever Apple product will foster this so-called Ecosystem, and if more than half of them even bother doing so, and since the majority of end users will be using their phones, it will be impressive. Apps made for Windows Holographic are built for AR, and will never require the same massive change that ARKit and ARCore will need to leap from framework to Platform.  In short, ARKit and ARCore may "Succeed", but I seriously doubt it will ever pass being a novelty in the mindshare of the consumer.
  • The way you interact with phone AR might be slightly different than a headset. It will be that hard to add a new input to your app. Much easier than writing an app for a platform with a minimal amount of users.
  • So tell me charles,  will you walk around with a bucket of KFC on your head outside?  if yes...1.  you will look extemely silly!  and 2.  you have no idea what consumer markets want.  sort of like microsoft. 
  • MS' decision to kill W10M will prove deadly for the company.  No mobile means no future.  Ultrtamobile PC is their last chance if there is one.
  • W10M killed itself, a 0.1% market share? What difference does it make to continue something that no one is using?
  • It was at around 3-4% before Nadella made his retrenchment speech in July 2015, three months before the release of W10M and L950/XL.  They removed W10M phones from markets, shut down manufacturing, marketing and signaled to the world that WP is ending.  CEO led the charge to bury the W10M and devices.  Now you have it - 0.1% market share. MS orchestrated WP decomissioning effort has succeded.  It is a pure man made failure.  It is a MS management created disaster.  But at present, the MSFT performance due to the Cloud and Office business have covered it up.  They win financially in the short term but would threaten the future of Windows in the long term.  W10M is supposed to be a major cornerstone of OneWindows but now is totally crumbling.  OneWindows may take a back seat to OneAndroid someday.  Google is starting to make moves to enterprises aggressively.  MS would fail AR like they did with WM.  
  • it's really puzzling to me ... why they never bothered releasing a Lumia 1520 sucessor with pen support...real shame IMO
  • Or a 1020 successor for those of us who still think that was the best camera ever, and don't want a TV in their pocket. The 1520 should have had VESA mount options ;) (yes I have one)
  • agreed svenJ,  If they actually came out with a 1020 successor,  and worthy specs...I would be the first to buy...even with the crappy OS.  
  • It's how they did it - no info.  They could have announced they were ending W10m with ARM as a replacement.  Or some info as opposed to leaving it dangle.  They can inform be honest, maybe even acknowlege the users of WP.  Maybe kept more Nokia people around who knew phones.  Maybe developed some cools apps or leveraged Nokia relationships to build cool apps.  Or other innovations.  At some point I heard WP had 10% market share in some places in Europe - what got them on WP?  Research and learn from that sort of stuff. To your point - Blackberry is also floundering, but still around.  They didn't say - good bye to phones yet....half the strength is their name and reputation.  Something MS never built on. I don't think MS was killilng themselve over 0.1% at all.  They shoud have - mobile is where we are headed. But yeah, I see where you are coming from.  Tough uphill fight....
  • VR/AR is overrated in the consumer space.  It is just like 3D TVs.  However, where it will find its use is in the business world ... and there is one place Microsoft still excels at.  I believe they have the right focus to accomplish the goal of making a business oriented AR solution.  I think the one place MS missed on mobile was the same Blackberry tripped over as well.  In the mobile space, the smartphone technology wasn't new to consumer space.  Businesses started with business focused devices like Blackberry, and WM devices (even back to Palm), and those companies focused their efforts on making business phones that consumers could have as well.  However, as the concumer marked for these devices grew and they became mainstream in the consumer space, people like Apple and Google went off and pursued the opposite strategy of making consumer devices that businesses would find acceptable for use as well.  It is really a large point (and one I wish MS would have gotten on board with ages ago).  The point of it all is that I think we have seen now how the mobile space goes, and it goes with the consumer, and even as a W10M lover, I will always at least hopefully have a fringe to hang on to so I dont have to go Apple or Android.  However, when it comes to AR, I think MS has the focus right, and that the consumer aspect of these devices will fade, and MS will be the ones still pursuing the business focused strategy giving business what they want from the beginning.
  • This keeps happening over and over--MS comes up with something cool and innovative that could shape or shake up the market but then they sit on it for WAY too long until it's lost the edge that they once had, and then they release it and wonder why they don't have the market share of other players.
  • MS never "came up with" ar....google had it before...just could not take advantage of it at the time.  This time around it's much different....
  • And you know this how?
  • and you did'nt ever see GOOGLE GLASSES?   My god fanpanzies.  you are so silly!  
  • Love getting the little fanpanzy (can't call them fanboys or girls anymore since fanpanzies are so sensitive) panties in a bunch with truth!
  • Ever see HERE City Lens? That was in the hands of people before Google Glass was. No, not the same level of tech, but City Lens was widely available, for free, and provided usable, and useful AR presented information. Just saying Google Glass wasn't the world premiere of AR. It faired about as well as HoloLens. May be a future there, maybe not. Right now, phone (tablet?) based AR is probably the right way to go, considering that every Tom, Dick, and Jane has a phone to access it with. What device it runs on, will probably have more of an effect on how well it does than how good it is, unfortunately. If you agree with that, MS has a problem. I can do some AR right now on my Windows 10 insider builds on my tablets. It's not as wiz bang as what Apple and Google have demo'd, but demos are demos. MS has demo'd stuff we don't have too.  All three companies have the chops to do this. We'll see who has the motivation to get it done and market it. 
  • Personally I think it is over in the consumer space for Microsoft. Band failed, UWP developement is going nowhere, kinect failed, Windows Mobile failed, Groove fails compared to all the competion, Edge failed. And soon AR will probably fail too. I am an IT manger and at work we are full into Microsoft with Azure, Office365, OneNote, Active Directory, SQL, Visual Studio, OneDrive and almost every MS solution you can think of. But as soon as it is time to go I switch to an Android life enhanced with the apps on my webOS LG smartTV with a chromecast and a PS4 Pro for gaming. Where Microsoft used to be front and center in my home life too with desktop computer, Xbox360 etc my home life and a lot of home appliances revolve around WiFi, bluetooth and smartphone apps.
  • I agree. Its hard to admit, but its true. I started with MS with a Palm-sized PC back in 1999, then later Pocket PCs. Even then I couldnt understand why the market mostly went with Palm with its tiny B&W screen and no audio system, while my Pocket PC was an MP3 player (years before the iPod), video player, huge rich color screen, and PDA. The early PC era left consumers with a bad taste for Microsoft. Windows was a neccessary evil people felt forced into and they werent going to let that happen again. Later, I got Compaq TC1000. I thought I was living the future, and I was - 3 years before the first iPad. They didnt sell well because people didnt want to pay a few hundred bucks extra for an amazing Tablet PC when they could spend less on a crappy netbook. I had a few Windows Mobile Phones, but the platform was already feeling stale by the time they put phones in the PDAs. The iPhone came along and the rest is history. MS had so many great ideas, but sat on their laurels at the wrong time and will pay the price. 
  • I have been using Microsoft computers before windows...MS-Dos.   I could never use MacOS.....Windows will never be dead in the consumer space.  BUT...they lost their space in mobile,  and about to lose it in AR too.   They should just take android, jimmy it to act like windows 10, and away you go!  At least they would have some presence in mobile.   
  • Why? Wouldn't be windows. They can achieve that much by offering a launcher and MS apps. They do that already. Let someone else make the hardware, if it isn't going to run an MS OS. 
  • May...
  • Microsoft:"Marketing? We don't need no stinking marketing." There's your problem.
  • Case in point. Anyone here have, noticed, played with, View 3D? That's what it is called in the store. In my programs it is called Mixed Reality Viewer. The screen shots show it just viewing 3D models. It can overlay those onto a camera view. Not as wizbang as what was shown at the Apple and Google events, but what they showed is not always what you get right off...as it is with MS. Yea, no phone, but it works fine on my tablets. https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9nblggh42ths
  • WHICH of the failed products COULD they MARKET?!
    WP 8.1 was behind and it needed DEVELOPMENT and not marketing. W10M is just a limbo of a product not knowing if it wants to be Android or WP and it has always been buggy as hell from the point it was first released. HoloLens is MIA and doesn't need "marketing", it needs RELEASE. I am tired of people putting the blame on marketing. WP was marketed enough. Surface is marketed as much as WP was and because it is more or less a complete product, it manages to sell. You can't have a lacking product and think marketing is the magic juice you pour all over it.
  • I agree. WP was marketed like crazy. They had product placements in TV shows all over the place. There were billboards in my town, Youtube ads, TV ads, it was everywhere. Sure, they could have done more, but it wouldnt have mattered. 
  • Sure you can. That's why the iPhone is what saved Apple. That's why Samsung actually makes money on Android. Neither of those products were anything near state of the art when they were introduced. Commitment and marketing made consumers aware of them and convinced them they were better, and desirable. 
  • What the Hell man? Those devs on ARkit and ARcore could never learn the UX required for heads-up display. They are still using silly buttons on the fake 3D showing 2D screens! MS strategy is focused on heads up display device rather then smartphone AR! Puting aside HMDs, MS only failed the current smartphone AR race because they already failed the smartphone race. Ans stop this bullshit that these smartphone AR apps will help to produce contents for HMDs! A MR HMD experience is more then just watching content in your real world. It is more about blending them in a natural way. Until the screen exits between you and the wirld, it is never going to be a natural experience. Another bullshit is that Smartphone AR is the road to HMD AR! It is like saying desktop computers were road to Smartphones!  This smartphone AR is just the final use case for smartphones. And this will help it survive when HMDs will be on surge! Recently your articles are negative towards MS! You used to be positive about MS. Seems like after windows phone fail you are going towards south with everything MS. I have switched with hololens now, will suggest you to do the same. HL community is really a happening one. Here's an example  https://www.gofundme.com/hololens-for-arjun-jasyal This isn't me, the Community did this;")      
  • Because most that MS does these days is left to die, handled with mediocrity. And let's not talk about quality control which is close to non existant at MS
  • Quality Control??? 
  • I think Microsoft's AR will be better because of one reason: x64. ARM processors don't hold a candle to desktop class processors like the Core i7 or Ryzen.
  • Yay, 71 minutes of battery life, cool!
  • Microsoft is "retrenching" itself right out of the mass consumer market. There will be fewer and fewer kids growing up that have any knowledge or connection with MS or it's products. Go to any elementary campus classroom in the US and you wil see no Microsoft  presence (except maybe in the front office). A mystical high dollar mobile PC will do virtually nothing to change it's future in that regard.  
  • I would agree with most of the assertions in the article.  At my company, we have been working with HoloLens for over a year. When Apple's AR tools became available, the devs were quickly saturated with requests for app development.  What seemed like a distant prototype on the HoloLens could be adapted for smartphone use on an existing install base of tens of thousands of iPhones (within my company).   Perhaps the greatest disappointment with HoloLens has been the absence of any feature updates since Aug 2016.  Nothing the community has asked for has materialized and the device is still running TH2 - we don't even have Creator's Update 1.  There's no universal clip board, no way to run apps in parallel, no additional API's to tap into the powerful spatial mapping.  The complete silence from Microsoft despite our investment into over a dozen devices is staggering. Our employees would rather put the $$ into a platform we know will be around (e.g. Apple).  If Apple releases a wearable device with HoloLens level spatial mapping and tracking, I can't see why we would stay with HoloLens.  It's becoming more and more difficult to defend Microsoft's inaction and total lack of transparency and unless something changes in the very near future, the amazing HoloLens (announced 2015) will join the Band 2 and Lumia 950 in the junk drawer.  :(
  • ^ Development and release as I said, not "marketing".
  • All Apple has in the market is a near-monopoly stranglehold that defies any logic, having millions of users doesn't equal innovation nor does make it a better platform. And this is what's holding the next true technological advance, companies like Apple who avoid innovation and iterate current technologies, software and hardware wise. after all, it's easier for people to buy the same thing that they know over and over than adopting new technologies. Really sad.
  • thanks for your insights....It appears they're focussing on kick starting the ecosystem with mixed reality headsets from OEM hardware partners...but not sure why they can't  be quickly evolving software Hololens at the same time to "maintain their lead"...lack of resources?  
  • Also the statment from Xbox head - phil spencer ...that they won't build a MR product for years because they won't be able to do a untethered headset till the technology gets ther - sounds insane to me... Are they not innovative enough not see a path where they start with a simple product with current component technologies and evolve the platform quickly and take the developers with them in the journey?  Have they given up on consumer market?
  • Microsoft used to be a one for all- All for One Company.... then they got new leadership....They NOW need new Leadership...If its not too late...
  • may be they need someone from outside to shake things up?
  • MS needs to focus on putting their AR/VR apps on Apple and Android then don't they? MR is great for PC and I would guess Xbox down the road, but they need to develop the portfolio for all devices regardless of platform. AR Minecraft perhaps? MS has never really been a hardware company and I would argue still isn't.
  • Yep, very well written. Unfortunately this article is also a painfully true sad story for Microsoft. Without a strong presence in the consumer mobile market, their AR will fail.
  • Yeah, bla bla bla... Apple will do that, Google will do that... In the mean time Microsoft is building an ecosistem that already put Apple's to shame. In the last years Microsoft realeased Surface Pro, Surface Book, Surface Studio, Surface Laptop, Hololens and Apple and Google only released new versions of the so called mobile pc, the smartphone. It seems you didn't learn a thing from iPhone, it's like screaming in 2007 Apple won't stand a chance in the mobile because they don't have a phone with a keyboard.
  • well...it seems most of the MS enthusiasts (and the trolls here) are pessimistic about Microsoft delivering exciting products for home consumers...and more optimistic about other tech companies...if they actually delivered exciting products and people still feel this way about the company... then it means something's wrong with their marketing, no?
  • By lying all the time and ditching users and devs MS managed to lose it's credibility, that's why no one but fanboys believe  that MS can actually do something.
  • I thought the whole Idea of the the hololens was to equip professionals with a pair of glasses to integrate computer generated info onto their field of view.  Think of wearing a set of glasses to look into the walls of a building or the body of a person.  Think of an interior designer rearranging furniture in a room.  Think of an engineer looking into a 3D structure.  How is a set of glasses going to hold the computing and battery power to operate for a long enough period of time.  how does the interface allow the user to manipulate the information.  Lots of questions and a great deal of engineereing on the hardware and software.  Is anyone suggesting an iPhone will allow a surgen to do a difficult task?  Could a smartphone allow soeone to see a new arrangment of furniture in the living room?  sure.   Maybe an ARM chip will power the glasses.  But how does that imply that MSFT can not use these chips?  But I agree that the entertainment idustrial complex driven by millions of consumers is a huge source of capital to build an ecosystem, which is what MSFT lost when they moved from window 6.5 to windows 7.0 to windows 8.o to windows 8.1 to windows 10.  At each step, they abanodoned more and more developers and alllowed competitors to win over customers.  Basically MSFT killed off its customers and suppliers/developers.
  • Mobile AR still seems gimmicky to me since it's not truly hands free and you can't really interact with the environment. You interact with a screen and that's simply not as immersive or productive imo. If Apple doesn't come with a headset soon and MS updates Hololens I'd say they're still in the game.
  • "Without a phone, Microsoft's consumer computing efforts will be worthless" There, I fixed your headline for you.  
  • Care to explain why? The pc install base for Windows is massive
  • Oh and windows store is full of apps due to this massive install base right?
  • Because to people who say dumb crap like that, the PC didn't exist till the iphone came out. 
  • The "massive Windows installed base" is at least 75% businesses.   Probably higher.  The home pc - assuming it even exists anymore - is used by kids doing homework.  Maybe streaming some TV/movies.   It is not going to be used for any type of AR/VR stuff. Thus, my comment about CONSUMER computing is spot on. Not there is anything wrong with that.   Lots of companies do just fine in the business world, with no presence in the consumer space at all.   Think Oracle, IBM, Cisco, etc.   Microsoft is clearly focusing on business, since they have had nothing but failures in consumer gadgets over the last 10 years.
  • And also we love to travel in the subway, public parks, roaming around the cities with our 30kg desktop setups or our so portable laptops.
  • Don't own a tablet, do you? I agree, the phone would be the typical go-to platform, but you can get 7-8" windows tablets for dirt cheap. Too bad there isn't a Surface mini (but not with RT)
  • Until hundreds of millions of "dirt cheap 8 inch Windows tablets" are sold, no one is going to bother writing any AR/VR apps for it.    But there are plenty of iOS phones/tablets, and plenty of Android phones/tablets ALREADY IN USE.   Easy decision for developers.  
  • If Google and Apple make advances in AR - will it be tied to a mobile device.  I would think yes.  Mobile device could be a headset.  Or combination of phone and headset. Mobile is the biggest platform right now.  I am betting Androidians will stick with Google products, Iphoneans will stick with Apple products on their mobile platforms.  These users will use them at work. Where does this leave MS?  With 1% of the market? Get back in to mobile and other consumer products!!!!
  • let's be honest though, that AR thing holding your phone up Apple is doing lately is an embarrassing gimmick, and is not the future.
  • yes. but...may be start simple and evolve quickly is a better model.than "we will release a perfect worlds first completely untethered product someday" ....no?
  • Thats not their (apple and google) endgame.  Thats just the start.   MS fanboys cannot see past the present because their future is always distorted by microsoft...meaning..microsoft announces all this GREAT STUFF...then before its released,  its neutered and watered down to MEH!  The opposite happens with apple.  They keep their damn mouths shut,  release a new item whether it be hardware or software,  and build on it using current technologies in their portfolio.  Apple watch was a great concept of this.  The first apple watch was the starting point.  Now the 3rd Gen is going to be phone free.  
  • ... And you're giving apple and goole way more credit than they deserve. 
  • really?  I gave microsoft way more credit than they deserved and look where that got me...a lame duck OS,  with no apps, no wearables,  no accessories.   Soooooo I own an apple iphone now and its MILES AND MILES better than windows 10 mobile on my 1020 or 950xl ever was/is.  Sean D,  I think you are fan(gendernutural) ***** whipped.  
  • Let's be honest this is not the final step for Apple and they are just laying the foundation of something well built that will sell like hot cakes when they are ready. Building a solid ecosystem of devs and content. Meanwhile Microsoft just counts sheep
  • What do you have to base this on? And before you answer, compare the first iphone to the latest and tell me just how far from their 'first step' they are now. 
  • Ok,  how far is the first windows phone from where they are now?  please sean,  stop fanboying the **** out of MS...they are not worth it in mobile.  
  • It’s not even an issue of a phone Jason. Its Microsoft's singular focus on the cloud. Cloud computing is a big deal but its CEO cannot do both Cloud and whever else well so he doesn't.  To stay in the game, they only want to "own stuff" because they have the money to buy it. But they don't or won't spend the money to find talent and the imagination to make these things a reality. They simply won't. HoloLens is like Google Glass, an empty stadium with a line of people running for the door. Microsoft's singular focus is the cloud. Nothing more, nothing less. If this company is ever to return to its former glory, its next CEO has to, if that is even possible, have the imagination and vision of a Bill Gates. If it can't find such a leader, we'll not ever know a future with Microsoft in 10 years. It’ll be the cloud AND whatever they hasn’t sold off, Windows, Office and maybe Xbox gaming.
  • As always. Pathetic Microsoft will always fail! Devs will always preffer Google and Apple because they do not reboot their freakin' platform, they support and advertise it and do not fck up users like Microshit does.
  • Aw you sound hurt c'mon get it over especially over a company.
  • Put me in the seat,  pay me a tenth of what they are paying nadella,  and I will have the devices chruning out!!!!!   I have the vision,  I have ideas of AWESOME MICROSOFT DEVICES.....but alas,  I live in a small town and build custom motorcycles.  ha ha...
  • waaaahhhhhh crybaby downvotes....someone stole my cookie...waaaaahhhhhhhh 
  • thats a given Microsoft AR effort will be worthless, dont know why they bother...
  • "Microsoft's HoloLens is being used in the education sector" If by that you mean that 1 unit is purchased in 5 of 345238954417515013485 schools around the world and also 10 in 3419054350145890159210 businesses and medical facilities around the globe have purchased one HL unit for each, yes HL is used in these areas. Truth is [noone] is using this, and noone cares.
  • How much better would be W10 if everyone who can afford device straight from microsoft could have it. Its difference if they try to make it accessible and saw a results the way they want, or not. They cannot be either google, samsung or apple. About time they made themself visible. Somebody may forget them.
  • How much better would windows 10 mobile be if microsoft supported it themselves!  They should have top spec pricy devices...thats what sells!
  • I mean premium by functions, cheap by price devices.
  • Now you get it Jason, why foregoing in the consumer market was suicidal. This sums it perfectly: " With all of its innovation and earlier entry with HoloLens, Microsoft's lack of a successful smartphone platform is putting it behind the competition as rivals are introducing AR to the masses via smartphone-based solutions. " " Compared to the $3,000 HoloLens, which is still limited to select sectors like the U.S. Army, NASA, health care and education, ARkit is a "free" consumer-focused upgrade. Developers are already embracing it. " " In 2015, Microsoft's augmented reality (AR) headset, HoloLens, arrested the tech world's attention. In 2017, Apple's and Google's smartphone-based ARKit and ARCore are usurping mindshare. " Three key words: Consumers, Developers and Mindshare. Sure I got the retrenchment in the mobile space as the first impressions they gave was that they were going to focus on direct hardware integration like Apple and the iphone. But... sigh... They totally forgot about the transition phase from smartphones to what ever replaces it. But Smartphones will be the defacto interaction model for the foreseeable future. Not everyone wants to be walking around with Smartglasses or AR headsets.. Smartphones have that balance as you can (clearly demostrated) place a smartphone in a headset and emulate an environment. We are not at the point with battery tech that we can use the smartphone cameras constantly to emulate an AR environment due to the number of processing cycles and SOC power draw per cycle etc.
  • May? It will hololens is too expensive  
  • ARkit is a "free" consumer-focused upgrade. Developers are already embracing it.
    Of course they are. They'll slob all over Apple's member as much as they can. Just like other products, MS spearheads it, kills it off or just lets it get stagnent, and companies zoom past MS with their own efforts.
  • About 3 years ago when I was in my undergrad final year, my major project was an AR app on windows phone. MS's was the only platform with a good AR library called SLARToolkit that was ready to run on phone. It was using Silverlight and was a port of original ARToolkit. With the demise of Silverlight one would hope, MS will bring newer stuff but I don't think they have done enough. They had a proper upper hand but they didn't do anything. Once again they have upperhand with hololens, but sadly I fell they will miss this bus as well when it comes to bringing the tech to consumer. Microsoft has lost mindshare, that is correct. They have to grab it back, hopefully the shift in smartphones that now appears to be closer than ever will help them. If they don't blow it.
  • Microsoft lost to Amazon for Alexa, when devs since windows phone 7 have been able to have cortana control smart devices, and with Xbox kinect Microsoft should have been able to start the AR experience projected on the TV with spacial awareness as it already can recognize my family members... Why didn't Microsoft innovate further amd make it so kinect would anticipate the "favorites" of each like TV channels "my 6 year old likes watching Kids cartoons on his child profile, etc" this is another example, just like the smartphone during the WM5 days that Microsoft created a niche and sat on it so others could copy and innovative further and then bring it to market. I am a MS guy and it is painful to watch them destroy what they created when they should he dominating those spaces.