microsoft hololens windows universal apps

Wondering how Microsoft HoloLens development will work? Microsoft says that HoloLens APIs are built into the core of Windows 10 and that all Universal apps—those built for cross-device capability–will be automatically compatible with the HoloLens AR headset.

Although concepts of augmented reality have been around for years, actually thinking about AR from a development standpoint will be new for most developers. Fortunately, Microsoft is going to make it easy to get at least an initial wave of basic apps onto HoloLens. During the device’s announcement, the company said that HoloLens APIs will be part of every copy of Windows 10, and that all Windows Universal apps will automatically extend to HoloLens.

Windows Universal apps, which have been around since Windows 8, are those that are built to extend and operate seamlessly across devices running Windows, from a 23-inch monitor, to an 8-inch tablet, to a 5-inch phone, or even to the Xbox One. As the Windows Dev Center puts it:

Develop once for all Windows devices using a unified Windows runtime and VS tools that allow you to both support experiences unique to a device in XAML, HTML, and DirectX, and share the code that supports those experiences across all devices using C++, C#, or JavaScript. When your work is finished you can you can produce the app packages that you will submit to the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store with a single action to get your app out to customers on any Windows device.

This does require that developers follow a particular (optional) development path, but if they do, it allows for a single package deployment across many devices, including Microsoft HoloLens.

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microsoft hololens ar headset

I take it that this will work for basic interactions—like being able to pull up a Netflix video or Spotify player and hang it on your wall like a picture frame—whereas more involved apps—like allowing a game character to jump around your room—will require deeper development. Even so, if Microsoft can convince developers to write Windows Universal apps, having a set of popular baseline apps that you could plaster your room with, even if its just an app window on your wall, would definitely give HoloLens a nice head start. After all, the masses may need a gentle transition to wrap their heads around the possibilities of such a device.

Want to learn more about developing for Microsoft HoloLens? Microsoft says that you can get a leg up on HoloLens development by learning the ropes of Windows 10 and checking out the company’s annual ‘Build‘ dev conference.

The best way to get started [with HoloLens] is to become familiar with Windows 10 by joining the Windows Insider Program. Next, register for Build 2015. At Build, you’ll learn more about how to get started designing and developing for Microsoft HoloLens, receive details on the SDK, and meet members of our engineering team. If you can’t attend in person, plan to tune in via livestream or check out the recorded keynote and session presentations that will be available after the event.

That last part of that quote will be particularly important given that Build is already sold out!

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Don Gateley

    Oh, my. Microsoft is getting incredibly aggressive with this. There is little doubt now that HoloLens is not only real and as capable as they claim but much closer to reality than the skeptics want us to believe.

    • kijutsu

      Exactly! I mean look at the XBox One and its Kinect 2 promises, bulls eye from Microsoft right there!!

      Count me as a skeptic…

  • Faxvoice Romulator

    Anyone else having a terribly tough time making sense of how this could all be put together from a technical standpoint in games? Us VR people have seen how hard it is to standardize the technology, how hard it is to change a paradigm in the dev community to start thinking about how to make use of new possibilities and powers and how to do things. Having said that, when i saw this, I think the minecraft demo is possibly deceitful.

    Minecraft isn’t a top down game and I suppose now that microsoft owns it they can turn it into whatever they want but still… Something we can relate to would be nice! lol. SO Is this what we should expect or is it just a concept? Maybe it’s just a top down view mode, sort of like an in game mini map, I guess that could work (it would be cool, it didnt really look like that was what they were going for) I sorta think it’s mostly just concept, as presnted it doesnt seem like it would really work, especially the whole ‘crashing through the wall’ thing near the end…That’s just exaggerated. The minecraft demo is particularly confusing… Being that what currently is (minecraft) doesn’t function anything like what is depicted in this video.  

    sliding icons around on your walls, i can certainly imagine that, part of me finds a revulsion that the future of media is sliding stuff around on the backdrop of my house. So skanky. I’m not so sure that’s the next big thing. HOWEVER, more desktop space by resorting to one main ‘wall/monitor’ and two side ‘walls/monitors’ would be quite nice though for general usage of a computer, a roll up and down function would be pretty welcome, unless you want the recycle bin to become your new wall decoration.  

    desktop sculpting and modelling done to scale is maybe the most useful and practical thing in this though (And the timing really couldn’t be more proper with a ramp up for 3d printing on the horizon too!) anything that makes modelling and CAD design more accessible, convenient, etc.. Cause that work is a bitch, phones and tablets have made some things easier but now we are exploring a way to have both the convenience of such things as well as much more precision. I hope we see a lot of good things done there with VR and AR in the next 18 months.