Microsoft HoloLens, the world’s first holographic computing platform, is certainly the most exciting innovation in IT since the introduction of GUIs. Does the PC finally have a worthy successor?
Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

In the demo, one of the interviewed developers mentioned it. This is the thing that comes after the PC. Compared to the innovations that smartphones and tablets brought us, Microsoft HoloLens really is something totally new. (I mean, cutting off the keyboard from the first mobile devices—which we call laptops—was not really that innovative if you compare it to holographic computing.)

Microsoft HoloLens in every home

Microsoft HoloLens in every home

For years I have been waiting to see one of the IT behemoths finally leave boring 2D flat screens behind and enter the 3D space. To be honest, I doubted that it would be Microsoft, and I guess that most experts would have bet on Apple or perhaps Google (Amazon somehow tried it with the Fire Phone), but not the company that has been preaching for years the renaissance of the text-based command line interface from the IT Stone Age. Obviously, this new CEO is not an admirer of the past. This is not renaissance; this is the birth of a technology coming right from the future; this is science fiction becoming science fact. It is not yet the Star Trek holodeck, but it is the beginning of it.

Needless to say, the first version of Microsoft HoloLens will have many drawbacks. I don’t remember that Microsoft ever introduced a new product that was immediately a success. We already saw a few limitations in the demo. The holo objects look rather artificial and it appears there is no way to grab and drag objects. I am sure that, once more independent testers get their hands on HoloLens, we will hear of many problems. (Although the first reviews I read were interestingly positive.) Anyway, after the first failure, Redmond starts tweaking and refining until they finally get it right.

Microsoft HoloLens for  Mars explorers

Microsoft HoloLens for Mars explorers

Of course, Virtual and Augmented Reality is nothing new, and such products have already been available for some time. But that’s not the point here. When it comes to innovation, nobody will really ask who was first, but only who made the new thing big. It is something totally different if a big one enters a new field.

Microsoft HoloLens for scientists

Microsoft HoloLens for scientists

First of all, this means the technology probably is now ready for the mass market. A big company risks a lot if it embraces a new technology too early. Secondly, and this is even more important, a company the size of Microsoft can build an ecosystem around this new technology. This is the reason why it is fair to say that Microsoft just introduced the first holographic computing platform.

Perhaps one day Holo Studio (which was introduced in the announcement) will replace Visual Studio. Most likely, this is the beginning of the end of the computer screen, including those that can be touched. In a way, this is like cutting off the keyboard, the mouse, and the screen from the PC. What’s left of the PC? Not much. Just the computing unit. We are now really entering the post-PC era.

Holo Studio demo

Holo Studio demo

Forgive me my excitement. I can admit it now that in the last few years IT has started to bore me. The only new thing that I really found interesting was the cloud. But now that AR and VR are around the corner, the cloud literally becomes a new dimension. I think with Windows 10 IT is getting interesting again.

Ah yes, Windows 10, the next generation of Windows. I should mention the other shocker that was almost drowned in the excitement about HoloLens. Everyone running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 who upgrades in the first year after launch will get Windows 10 for free. Wow, this will be a hard nut to crack for the naysayers. It is going to get really costly if you don’t upgrade to Windows 10 right away after the RTM. Mr. Nadella, this was a brilliant move!

So what do you think? Has the post-PC era finally arrived? Is Microsoft now back or not?

  1. Joseph Moody (Rank 3) 8 years ago

    I am completely with you Michael! Our environment is going to Windows 10 as soon as we can!

  2. Tim 8 years ago

    I am hopeful that we will be upgrading to Windows 10 in our workplace, but the whole giving it away for free for the first year actually makes me more cautious than excited. Win10 still has to prove it can deliver on being a good OS. All this pre-release hype is just that…hype. I don’t fall in with the “wait for the service pack” crowd (well maybe in the case of Windows 8) but they still have to release the product and test it in the real world and ensure application support before making too many plans.

  3. Joseph, then the only questions that remains is when are you going to 3D. 😉

    Tim, I think there is no reason to be cautious. Microsoft just knows that they have to move faster than before because there now is new competition (Android, Chrome OS) and this means that the entire industry has to move faster too.

    Another thing to consider is that it will be impossible to skip Windows 10 because there will be no Windows 11. Thus, you either get Windows 10 for free or you have pay for it later. It is your choice.

    This will also put an enormous pressure on software makers to adapt their applications because if they don’t deliver a compatible version within a year a lot of their clients will lose their cool if they have to pay the bill for software vendors who are unable to adapt to a rapidly advancing IT industry.

  4. q 8 years ago

    I was extremely excited by winHolo when I heard about the release, I’ve actually been advocating among friends that AR is the future of computing for quite a while now, and that tablets, microTablets(‘smartphones’) and wristTablets are nothing but a transitional technology. The only advantage of those devices are the portability of their screens and ‘touch’, but with screen simulation and gesture control, the touch concept is obsolete. I’ve actually been in the process of developing a full out OS design (aesthetically, not code-wise yet) to accommodate this new advancement. Interestingly, it actually kills the laptop and tablet concepts, but brings back the desktop concept, where AR acts as a GUI for a more powerful tower system which handles greater processing and storage capacity. The only thing it doesn’t provide is advanced proprioceptive tactile feedback (you can’t feel the AR objects when you gesture a touch), but with neuro-mapping and prosthesis control advancements in neurobiology, I’d expect it to eventually be developed. Also interestingly, it kills the scifi tech concept of ‘Holograms’ since AR is cheaper, simpler, doesn’t require ‘projection’, and aesthetically holograms will always have some level of transparency, while AR can have full opacity objects as well as transparencies. It also kills certain scifi optical implant tech, since who wants to get brain surgery everytime you want to upgrade from usb 3.0 to 4.0 ^_^ Of course there may still be an implant market for neural engineering to increase brain capacities (like in that show ‘Intelligence’ a few years back), but frankly, the vast majority of features such advancements provided would be more easily achieved by simple ECG mapping or similar (I mean, you have a headset anyways, so why not provide that feature).
    Personally, I actually never got a tablet or smartphone, since I figured this AR tech would come out in a few years anyways. I think I may wait a little while longer to go AR, since I feel startup times and batterylife will be an issue, but with the recent development of FRAM and with MRAM on the horizon, all of those issues will likely be alleviated. Also with NVME protocols of SSD’s still in development I feel this first gen will be suboptimal till these hardware devices and protocols mature. I also KNOW that whatever OS design is developed for the technology will not be adequate to truly use the full power of the advancement, so I do want to build the aesthetics from scratch in order to make sure the system’s power can be fully utilized by users.
    I don’t believe AR will render all other computing concepts obsolete, I ABSOLUTELY KNOW it will, it’s just a question of the speed of user adoption, which includes overall aesthetic design (frankly, as previously stated, I’m not optimistic on that front) and cost (again, for the first few years it’ll be expensive, since it’ll be reliant of new advanced tech [NVME and MRAM] to run optimally, but cost always comes down eventually, so as long as it’s not COMPLETELY exclusionary such that no one adopts it and the concept gets abandoned, it shouldn’t be much of an issue, and frankly, I’m really not sure it is possible for the concept itself to ever be abandoned, It’s so elegant with regards to fundamental theories of computing that I can’t see computing technology NOT developing in this direction eventually, no matter what happens)

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