​Microsoft's HoloLens: Wooing developers will be everything

The secret to Microsoft's HoloLens will revolve around whether the software giant can really enable a bevy of holographic apps with just a few extra lines of code.

Microsoft coughed up a few more details about the technology behind its HoloLens, an augmented reality headset that promises to connect developers, Windows 10 and hologram apps together. But the real win may be the ongoing buzz the technology creates with developers.

HoloLens Microsoft

The platform race---Windows, iOS and Android---is really about developers in the end. What HoloLens is really doing is bringing the cool back to Microsoft and attributing words like vision and innovation to the company.

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Now it's unclear how the HoloLens will fly at work or at home, but the early feedback has been positive. As CNET's Nate Ralph noted, a bootcamp on creating holographic applications could woo developers. Ralph said:

I'm not a developer, but creating an app for the HoloLens what Microsoft called the Holo Academy Experience was deceptively easy. The Academy was a sort of boot camp for Build attendees, though the 4-hour experience was distilled down to 90 minutes for journalists.

We built our app in the Unity game engine, consisting of a simple scene: a few origami airplanes and spheres, hovering over a notepad. All of the art objects and the lines of code were created for us, but turning a program designed in Unity for a 3D game and then converting that into an augmented reality experience was as simple as adding a few lines of code.

That extra code is the idea behind Microsoft's Universal Apps approach. The goal is to use the Windows developer base, make it easy to add a few tweaks and hit multiple devices and screens. My hunch is Microsoft will be successful tying Windows 10 and HoloLens together and much less so with smartphones.


For businesses, you can see where Microsoft is headed. Collaboration, analytics, enterprise apps and possibly even Office could ultimately be enhanced by HoloLens. The catch is that Microsoft will have to deliver on that "just a few more lines of code" universal app vision.