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Should Microsoft create a consumer-focused HoloLens?

HoloLens
HoloLens (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft's HoloLens could be in danger, according to a troubling report that emerged this week. According to more than 20 current and former Microsoft employees that spoke with Business Insider, Microsoft's HoloLens division is in disarray. The same report claims that HoloLens 3 was canceled in mid-2021, Microsoft's $22 billion contract with the military is behind schedule due to inadequate development progress, and there's a dispute within the company regarding the market that Microsoft should focus on.

Alex Kipman, Microsoft technical fellow and head of Microsoft's HoloLens division, disputed the claims made in Business Insider's report. Kipman claimed that "HoloLens is doing great," though he did not address any of the other items in the report.

There's said to be a rift inside of Microsoft when it comes to the future of HoloLens and Mixed Reality. It's claimed that some inside the company want to focus on consumers while others want to continue pushing exclusively toward businesses and the military. There are also alleged internal disagreements spawning from Microsoft's partnership with Samsung to build mixed reality devices.

This week's poll focuses on the market that Microsoft should focus on in the future. Specifically, we'd like to know if you think Microsoft should create a HoloLens built with consumers in mind.

At the moment, HoloLens 2 costs $3,500. The mixed reality headset is also aimed squarely at businesses and the military. For example, NASA uses HoloLens on several projects. Microsoft also has a $22 billion contract with the U.S. Army to create combat-ready variant headsets.

Ivas Hololens Army

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

With perpetual talk of the metaverse and Apple potentially entering the mixed reality space, some have voiced interest in Microsoft rolling out a consumer-focused HoloLens. The company has worked on mixed reality for years, so it should have a head start in the space.

On the other hand, some want Microsoft to continue doing what it's doing, which is focusing its efforts on businesses and the military. While it's unclear if Microsoft makes a profit off of HoloLens at this point, the company does have several large contracts.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

35 Comments
  • A year ago, I would have answered with a certain yes.
    Now, as disappointing as it is, I think it's a waste of time and money.
    Microsoft hasn't really figured out how to work the consumer side of things. I'm not sure if it's a lack of interest or simply bad management, but they seem to blow it almost always when they try to enter the consumer space. The only notable exception is Xbox and some of the Surface lineup.
    But even there, they weren't able to drive kinect and the lack of effort on the Duo (no updates, no communication) shows that they aren't suited for the consumer space. It would take a serious realignment of Microsoft to become a viable player in that segment and since the focus is clearly on the money making enterprise sector, I just don't see that happening. While they seem to always keep trying, in the end there's not enough follow through to make it stick.
  • It's the risk aversion and bean counting that results in bad management. Combined with petty office politics == lack of coherent direction. People have forgotten the amazing sync features Wp7 and Zune had. Such features still don't exist on ios and android. The thing is, it's never too late for WoA. Once Risc becomes mainstream then yes. But that is a long way off.
  • I've assumed for some time Hololens and the tech included would be for commercial and military use and not for consumers
  • Looking at Meta's numbers, the evidence seems to back it up.
    The hardware is too expensive and too limited.
    At some point there might be a use for a day-to-day HUD, perhaps as an extension on a phone, existing gadgets are too bulky and too pricey.
    In a decade things might be different and we'll all wear shades everywhere but they'll have to down in weight and price and go up in capability and battery life.
  • Hololens and the Quest 2 are absolutely different products, there's no comparison. The same with "Meta" and Microsoft. Different companies with different goals.
    You could compare the HL2 with some professional headset Meta releases. But I understand MS are ahead in creating and selling a professional AR product, and have been for years.
  • To be perfectly blunt AR is the future it will replace smart phones tablets laptops computers . If Microsoft doesn't push into this then basically they will be dead in the consumer market with the one exception of Xbox and that's it. and yes I'm including the death of Windows in that equation I'm already starting to look into moving into the Apple ecosystem if this doesn't get cleared up soon on what's going on.
    I've been a Microsoft Fanboy most of my life but unfortunately Satya Nadella is nothing more but a shareholder pleaser.
    And if the reports are correct he seems content to let the entire seven years of augmented reality research and development to go down the crapper without even trying.
    So they're goes Microsofts hardware and software operating system. 💩
    this really sucks.
  • Future, yes.
    But which future?
    Tomorrow? Next year? Next decade?
    Remember video phones? Everybody knew they were the future since the 60's. Sixty years later and they're only now *starting* to hit the mainstream. As for MS, nobody can be everything to everybody.
    For now they are doing fine in institutional productivity and consumer productivity and entertainment.
    There's no need to do consumer AR any time soon. MS likes to lead hardware but it is only be a year or three, max. Consumer AR is at least a decade away. This needs to arrive first: https://opg.optica.org/oe/fulltext.cfm?uri=oe-29-7-10568&id=449380
  • Yeah, and fusion power will make electricty 'too cheap to meter" ..., just like industry experts and industry 'watchers' said fission plants would ..., 50 years ago ..., to charge up the helicopter that would be in every driveway ...
  • They have been pushing this, researching and selling actual products to actual customers since the HL1.
    I don't think they're abandoning the HL nor XR, at all.
  • As much as I would like to see this device in consumer hands, there has to be compelling use cases that will prompt the average consumer to purchase it, considering it will not exactly be cheap. Microsoft need to focus on military, businesses and education for the Holo Lense. It will not be enough to have for gaming, because developers would need to make games that specifically take advantage of the device. Microsoft could take the lead on this, now that their acquisition of Activision/Blizzard is underway. Call of Duty would be a great game to experiment with such a device, since they have the Military contract. This would give them an opportunity to test some military aspects for HUDs for military personnel. One good use would be UAV, and air support where the player actually controls the drones. Being able to still move and react, while in game, because the Holo Lense would be the display for UAVs and othe controlled air support. As is, you are a sitting duck, if you don't find a good location to hide. The other case would be better situational awareness of enimies, when a team deploys a drone. It could give you general direction to the players location and not just general location of the enemy. However, this alone isn't going to be enough to warrant consumer production, unless most developers of popular games fully commit to that. I don't really see that happening, as it may cause a delay for Xbox gamers, unless they put out the game and then punch out massive updates for Holo Lense use. I don't think it would be efficient to do it that way, but it's an option.
  • here's a question how many of y'all think be rumors about the whole hololens being canceled and the windows operating system being tossed aside and all of Microsoft augmented reality glasses being tossed aside are true or false?
  • Windows is not going away. It's still good for a couple billion net a year.
    Hololens is a niche but a marginally profitable one. And that DOD contract looks to be more than marginally profitable.
    Hololens glasses? They don't exist so you can't kill what doesn't exist. On the flip side, they'd be stupid not to see where the tech is.
  • Contracts have priority and that's where the main focus should be. If they have the resources and can separate and isolate a consumer-focused effort that's how it should be done. Crossing the streams is very bad.
  • Microsoft is not a small outfit. They are a trillion dollar corporation. They certainly have the fiscal resources to focus on both enterprise and consumer space.
  • I think this all is a lot of fuzz just for having something to write about. Players have their cards and it is in the cristal ball as to how they will play them out.
    The poll is limited by being binary, especially with the preceding question as on what Microsoft should focus. Microsoft has done and still does a lot of things well. It is an enterprise that is not just focussing on one thing. It is about synergy too. It is obvious that there is a lot if potential for professional use of Hololens, which should take its course.
    Then next, of course, MR has superb potential in gaming. That is where they can compete with Meta Oculus and more. I don't think we are in the era yet that headsets will catch on with the general public.
  • I have no clue if the metaverse and AR are technologies with future potential in the consumer space and I think if we're honest with ourselves we'll all admit that we don't know. Google's tried and is out, but Facebook rebranded itself and completely reoriented to AR. I mean, who knows? It seems like AR with the massive ease of use that we see with smartphones is something anyone would embrace. But we're nowhere near that. Look at Amazon's and Google's failed attempts. Amazon's glasses actually looked like real glasses! Popular smartwatches don't even look like traditional watches, and they they're popular! But maybe the tiny, unintrusive hardware that is required for this sort of thing is a foregone conclusion, so getting in now is a good idea. Here's one of the reasons I'm glad I'm not making big strategic decisions for a major corporation.
  • I would love a more consumer focused Hololens to augment gaming or to compliment Windows 11. I would hate a device that required me to buy a Samsung phone. Why would I buy another phone when my last phone lasted 6 years and I just bought a Duo 2?
  • Yeah, that would be a concern. I would think that any AR device created by this partnership would also run on DUO/Duo 2. Considering Samsung could just treat it like any of their other peripheral devices that will work with most Android phones. With that said, the partnership should yield the same level of integration. But, I wouldn't expect to see said device until Spring of 2025. By that time, hopefully, Microsoft will have a mobile Surface device that will be capable of running such a device smoothly.
  • It is not a question should they or not. It is just a MUST. TVs will be replaced by glasses, bigger or smaller. TVs just have too many disadvantages:
    1. Less privacy
    2. Taking too much space
    3. Limited portability
    4. Limited field of view (vertically and horizontally), limited screen estate.
    Eventually TV technology will be replaced by glasses. Not necessary VR - it is just different kind of portable display. Financially glasses make sense. Office space, home space, portability - these are financial incentives of investing in this technology. Somebody will achieve it first. If not Oculus, then Sony or LG.
    Microsoft MUST invest in software, but if they are discontinuing Hololens, then they must take Xbox as production model - designed by Microsoft, produced let's say by Sony, AMD or Samsung. Windows must run on these glasses.
  • Not too sure about this. I for one absolutely hate placing anything on my head except it's a necessity. Please leave my 75 inch OLED TV for me. Those interested in glasses can have it in parallel, but please leave the TV in place!
  • Sorry bud, bad take. As long as there are families, there will be TVs. You aren't going to buy a headset for each parent and child to be able to sit down and watch Toy Story for the 50th time as a family. You also aren't going to buy a headset for every friend coming over to watch the Super Bowl.
  • No, not right now, it's still too early
    Despite being impressive, technology is not on par with the asked price yet.
    But they should release a consumer oriented VR headset, with pass through for AR It wouldn't be a hololens, but it would be more on par with what the current market needs: an affordable device allowing both AR and VR: noone will buy 2 of those, and most (if not all) consumer usages are currently VR. This would make MS occupy the market untill a real AR headset is ready for consumers. If they don't, someone else will take that spot and will have a better position when the technology will be here.
  • As Meta just proved, there is no net profit in consumer VR/AR today.
    If they or somebody else wants to occupy whatever market exists, they'll let them. First movers get swept aside all the time. (Just ask Sony how their ebook venture played out, or Diamond over their MP3 players.) There's lots more money to be made, near term, in health (NUANCE!) and gaming (ACTIVISION!) than in squatting on an immature market that isn't ready. People keep buzzing anout Apple VR being two teRs away ever since Google glass. They also buzzed about Apple SmartTV and Apple car and now an Apple gaming console. Of all those, the console is the most likely and it's not very. Apple prefers to be a close follower not a pioneer with arrows in their back. MS does take chances but calculated ones.
    That hololens is a niche product for institutional verticals tells us where they see the money. And it isn't in consumer.
  • It's not only hololens, it's also wmr, both are linked
    Market isn't huge, but still, it exists, it's growing, and companies are making profit there.
    MS has one of the best positions (windows/xbox) to be a key player, and has already spent the initial investment (kinect/wmr/hololens).
    They can either retire, having "lost" that investment, and restarting late in a few years, having to catch up with competitors.
    Or become a key player (sony is one just with the bad playstationvr), and be already on one of the top positions when the market skyrockets.
  • Microsoft would need to do several things in order for it to be consumer ready and not be killed off.
    It would need to be cheaper.
    Microsoft would need to spend a lot of time developing out the ecostytem, including producing a system that is useful for the average person.
    It needs to work flawlessly.
    The field of vision needs to be 100% so it can function as AR and VR.
    It would need to possibly link to xbox... the more users on the platform the more likely to succeed. I have considered a hololens 2 purchase only because I want/need virtual displays, but hololens is overpriced and overkill for this kind of usage. (the lenovo thinkreality is better priced but needs beefy hardware to run it)
  • The ecosystem? That's a simple one, Hololens primarily ran UWA. To give UWA boost, Microsoft needs to put resources into WoA. Also, WoA is better for the environment as the charge to charge times are far better than X86 with cellular connectivity.
  • People keep pining for a gaming VR headset without considering who would actually buy a gaming PC or a $500 console, plus spend $500+ for a headset and controller... to play what? Short tech demos? Skyrim? That's not where MS is taking XBOX.
    MS isn't after the afluent "first kid on the block" market; they're going after the $200 console--1080p TV family market. And the kid bedroom/dormroom market.
    Way more of the latter two than the former. When that changes, they'll move, just as they ignored OnLive until they saw a model that made economic sense (i.e., $$$) in cloud gaming as a feature of Gamepass rather than a standalone product. Until then, consumer VR/AR from MS is a nonstarter. It's not as if they need it today, unlike Facebook, which is a one trick pony in desperate need of new revenue streams.
  • I think Microsoft is taking a different approach. They want to make sure that they have a strong position in AR platform. I saw reports MS wants to make a cloud based holographic devices that will not run windows. They can't win consumer market with windows. So a cloud based operating system makes much sense. Also Samsung will use microsoft ecosystem to power their own AR device to compete against Apple/Meta. Micerosoft mesh wants to be the next android of AR devices.
    One thing is clear that hololens is dead but a complete new device will be prepared. That's why Qualcomm partnership is happening. I am excited to see what they reveal in future because Microsoft may want to fully dominate this market.
  • Innovation is not driven by 'ensuring they have a strong position' BEFORE trying to out-pace the competition. If what you say is true, they might as well just donate a couple $billion to a charity, write it off, and call it 'their failed attempt at AR. They couldn't even do what you purport with a meaningful lead in the cell phone OS and partners.
  • How can their attempt be failed if AR technology doesn't exist yet? 10 years will be needed to take a shape for this AR. Cloud is going to play a key role in AR and MS has advantage here. Still there is time so wait and see.
  • while i don't really care about vr they should create it, maybe they are not doing it because they already know its not popular among consumers
  • Email on phones was at one time not popular with consumers. Texting at one time was not popular with consumers. Pagers at one time were not popular with consumers and so on. My point is, over time things that were not popular with consumers become the norm and taken for granted.
  • Should they? Dunno. Their choices are based on what would make them money, not what people want. and that's what they should do.
    Do we want it? Yeah, I'd love to see it. But it doesn't mean it would succeed. The whole industry and a great part of the public actively want MS to fail on everything they release. They love to hate them. This is only part of what happens. Hardware markets are already locked down, be it smartphone OS or VR, whatever.
  • Going by their precedents with so many products in the past - the answer is no! I've always argued that MS acts more like a lab than than a business, only they develop tech for others to make real use of. This reminds me of Windows phone and so many other products happening in slow motion all over again.
  • HoloLens had a completely different target customer. Speaking as an enthusiastic user of a first-gen Mixed Reality headset, I want to see a consumer-focused (and affordable) hardware effort. If that's where this partnership w/Samsung is going, and brings some of the tech and lessons-learned from the HoloLens side along for the ride, all the better. But I've also be constantly burned by Microsoft's abandonment of product lines. Windows 8, Windows Phone, Zune/Groove, Cortana...all things I thoroughly got behind and hate Microsoft for giving up on. I'll never forgive them for dropping all those. So, I have no confidence that whatever they do next w/HoloLens will have any sort of endurance.