At Intel’s Developer Forum this week, Microsoft has announced that it’s to bring its ‘Holographic Shell’ to Windows operating systems everywhere by 2017 with an aim to provide “one platform for VR, AR and MR.”

For some perhaps, there’s nothing more terrifying than the thought of being psychologically immersed inside an operating system, perhaps particularly Windows. Nevertheless, this is part of what Microsoft is promising with its planned launch of Windows Holographic Shell which it’s promised will arrive in every Windows 10 installation via an update some time in 2017.

What is Windows Holographic? Well, aside from being a slightly disingenuous use of the term ‘holographic’, you’ll have already seen glimpses of the technology during the various video demonstrations of Microsoft’s augmented reality visor, HoloLens. But what Microsoft have now demonstrated at IDF point toward a broader platform, one on which they’ll be encouraging developers of all immersive disciplines AR, VR an MR to build upon.


The video demonstration embedded above and released by Microsoft yesterday, shows a concept (but apparently real-time rendered) depiction of where the company sees its Windows Holographic APIs heading and for reference, Microsoft’s use of the term ‘Mixed Reality’ differs to generally held definitions. Generally, MR refers to imagery formed from fusion of reality and virtual sources.

20 Free Games & Apps Quest 2 Owners Should Download First


In Microsoft’s Windows Holographic lexicon, it seems to mean different forms of disparate virtual content. In the case of the demonstration, floating 2D windows presented in an immersive 3D environment. Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group said in an accompanying blog post that “Windows Holographic shell enables an entirely new experience for multi-tasking in mixed reality, blending 2D and 3D apps at the same time, while supporting a broad range of 6 degrees of freedom devices.”


Of course, this all played nicely alongside the prior announcement, also at IDF, that Microsoft and Intel were joining forces on a new a new Windows Holographic powered All-in-one VR headset called ‘Alloy’, also featuring untethered computer vision based positional tracking.

We reported recently that Microsoft had stepped up it’s efforts to bring its HoloLens AR visor to businesses in a more Enterprise focused fashion with the launch of ‘Commercial Suite’, with this announcement that a proper, integrated Windows-based platform for VR, AR and MR applications will push to desktop operating systems everywhere next year, Microsoft appear to finally have a plan on how to capitalise on the immersive technology revolution.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

  • Paul Zirkle


    • OgreTactics


  • Nigerian Wizard

    “Hand controls” no NO NONOOOOO. WHY CAN’T WE JUST STOP THIS.

  • Kirigaya Kazuto

    If microsoft and Intel are also going to make vrRPG’s then this ain’t going to work

  • Kirigaya Kazuto

    We shud be able to control the movement of the body in the virtual world with our brains,then we can explore a huge virtual world with just little space.thats my dream.

    • Alex_Atkin_UK

      Controlling isn’t the problem, its the feedback to convince your brain you are actually moving that is the stumbling block. Without both those things your brain is acutely aware you are sat/stood still in space and sickness ensues.

      To do it without your body moving is no easy task. It has to then con your
      brain into thinking you are actually moving AND would need to stop the
      signals reaching your actual body parts so you wouldn’t be flailing
      around on the sofa. Could that even be done without blocking the signals to your
      vital organs? Would you even want to risk it? Do you really want a computer hooked up to your nervous system in such an invasive manner that it could kill you?

      Science can’t even solve the problems I have with Vertigo due to my own bodies ability to judge if I am moving or not being defective.

      • Kirigaya Kazuto

        True dat

  • Kirigaya Kazuto

    We shud be thinking of using BCI in virtual reality devices

  • OgreTactics

    Notice how they use a VR headset instead of the HoloLens because of the overhyper piece of crap this is, yet still called it Microsoft Holographic (which it’s not)?

  • There are several virtual desktops available already, some with neat ideas, some not so much. I have “Virtual Desktop” myself which is pretty neat but the resolution is just too low for work related activity. We need super hi res displays in our headsets, that and the advances with foveated streaming to get around GPU bottlenecks until they can implement it in hardware. It is exciting that Microsoft realise the potential in this space and by 2017 too. Shame Apple are dead silent on any forthcomings.