Microsoft's new workplace mixed reality apps pop up in the Store

During its Build 2018 developer conference last week, Microsoft introduced two new mixed reality apps designed for the workplace. At their reveal, Microsoft said the apps would be available in a limited-time preview starting on May 22. However, both apps have now been spotted by noted Microsoft watcher WalkingCat in the Microsoft Store a little earlier than expected.

The first app, Microsoft Remote Assist Preview (opens in new tab), is available only for HoloLens users and is intended as a way for workers to remotely collaborate with experts on their Microsoft Teams contact list. Within the app, workers can take advantage of video calling, image sharing, and mixed reality annotations. Combined, the features are meant to enable workers to keep their hands free while being guided through a task.

The next app, Microsoft Layout, is a design app for mixed reality. Users can use Layout to view 3D models in a room at real-world scale, allowing them to see how a room will look in the physical space around them or in a virtual space. The layouts can then be shared and edited with others in real time. We briefly tried out Microsoft Layout with a Windows Mixed Reality headset and it works as advertised, though it's slightly buggy in its preview form.

Both apps represent Microsoft's determination to make HoloLens and mixed reality apps a reality in the workplace. That's something we've already seen with companies deploying HoloLens to help out in everything from operating rooms to automobile design studios. However, there's quite a bit of room left to expand as the mixed reality space continues to grow.

If you have a HoloLens or Windows Mixed Reality headset, both apps are listed in the Microsoft Store now.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Seems cool. But not sure why the download is for HoloLens devices only. I get the part about the on site worker having HoloLens, but why isn't it possible for the "remote" worker to see what the on site worker is seeing on a laptop, tablet, phone, and annotate the screen accordingly. Do both parties have to be wearing HoloLens? Seems limiting. Maybe I'm missing something?
  • Sorry, I accidentally reported you! They really need to move that away from "reply" or add an undo button!
    But to answer your question: When using remote assist, the person with the Windows 10 or Android or Apple device uses the Teams app, best I can tell from the app description.
  • As an Ikea customer and a MR owner, I'd like Microsoft to strike a deal with Ikea and add a MR function to their "Home and kitchen planner". Once I have input the room dimensions, chosen the furniture and its colors, I should be able to wear my MR headset and navigate through the room and preview how it will look like. As MR headsets are easy to set up, they could even put them in Ikea stores. I know it's not for everybody, but it just makes sense.
    And if Hololens some day becomes mainstream, they can use the same app so I can put virtual furniture in my real room and see how it would look like in AR.