Report: Microsoft Might Not Update HoloLens Hardware Until 2019

by Ian Hamilton • February 20th, 2017

A report on Thurrott.com indicates Microsoft is skipping an incremental hardware update to its Hololens in favor of a generational upgrade in 2019.

The post by Brad Sams says tips he received from “several sources” indicated Microsoft canceled its second version of Hololens to focus on a third version that will take longer to ship but provide a bigger improvement. The article frames this as Microsoft deciding it has “a large lead in the AR space and isn’t feeling pressure to release a product that is only an incremental update.”

From the post:

By skipping what was version two on their roadmap, the company can accelerate version three which will be closer to a generational leap and help keep Microsoft ahead of the competition. My sources are telling me that this version of Hololens will not arrive until 2019.

This framing of the information could be representative of Microsoft’s outlook. After all, Hololens as a self-contained unit with solid inside-out positional tracking is in a class of its own right now. But we’ve also heard reports suggesting that not many of the $3,000 headsets have been sold. The high price of Hololens could mean only developers contracted to make business, medical or industrial applications are likely to find success in the near-term. Now early adopters are essentially being told not to expect an upgrade soon. Developers who hoped for a rapid follow up from Microsoft that would be less expensive and appeal to a larger segment of buyers are going to have to bootstrap their ideas for longer, or find another way to head to market more quickly.

I reached out to Microsoft for comment and received the following prepared statement:

Mixed reality is the future of computing, and Microsoft HoloLens is the future and present of mixed reality. Our commitment requires no roadmap.

Of course, developer kits for VR headsets compatible with new versions of Microsoft’s Windows are set to be released at GDC. These upcoming headsets will feature a range of specifications, allowing Microsoft partners to release a variety of hardware solutions with different capabilities priced all the way down to $300. These systems could provide an alternate route to market for some developers already familiar with Windows and its mixed reality tools.

It is also worth noting we are waiting to see how Microsoft will work with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift going forward. As owner of the Windows operating system, Microsoft has enormous power in issuing future updates to the software and determining how VR and AR hardware will interact with it. With Hololens hardware updates potentially pushed to 2019, is it more important that Microsoft start generating revenue right now from all VR and AR headsets which use Windows?

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