Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed a release date for its entry into the virtual reality space, but already some are predicting that the Microsoft HoloLens price tag could shock users when it does eventually arrive on store shelves.
A new profile in the New York Times quotes an executive within Microsoft as saying that the HoloLens price could “cost significantly more than a game console.” The piece doesn’t note if this executive is referencing the Xbox One, which costs $400 for the bundle that doesn’t include Kinect or the version $500 for the bundle that does.
Naturally, a high price tag could mean the difference between Microsoft successfully defining a computing category in the same way that Apple did with the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch and failure. If the HoloLens price is too high, excitement could fizzle out. Developers wouldn’t adopt the platform in droves because there’d be no way to justify the expensive of bringing their apps and games to HoloLens, despite Windows Apps now adapting to tablets, smartphones, the Xbox One and HoloLens.
If the HoloLens price is just right, the headset could indeed define a new generation of computers that uses natural ways of interfacing with users, like voice and gestures. That’s something that Microsoft appeared to do with the Kinect sensor for Xbox 360, which sold millions before turning into an accessory most use to control video playback with their voice and a way to manage cable with the Xbox One.
As a whole, the profile focuses on the changes Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made to the company since he took over more than a year ago. It also highlights the same potential use cases that Microsoft showed off at its January Windows 10 Media Briefing when it unveiled HoloLens to the world.
Simply put, Microsoft HoloLens is a self-contained wearable computer. Users place it on their head. With it on they can see the environment around them. A projector inside the headset itself blasts a modified Windows 10 interface in front of the user’s eyes. Every app and game is overlaid on objects that actually exist. For example, users can play Minecraft on a table in front of them.
Ironically, Microsoft isn’t exactly the first major technology company to attempt a wearable nor something that users wear on their head. Apple launched its own slate of watches just a few weeks ago. Naturally, Apple Watches are worn on the wrist and not the face, but attempt to do they same thing the HoloLens does: make interacting with services and apps seamless and natural. Microsoft rival Google is still working on its Google Glass wearable, hoping to retool it and make it better for users than what it originally showed off.
This week at its BUILD 2015 developer conference Microsoft showed a medical student using HoloLens to examine the human body in detail. Examples during that January Windows 10 briefing included users placing Skype calls, watching video, looking at their calendar and to-do list overlaid on different objects in their living space.
Early on, most assumed that Microsoft HoloLens would be an accessory available to Xbox One owners, but that definitely isn’t the case. Because HoloLens is a self-contained platform, developers will be able to create their own HoloLens games and apps, which is why Microsoft was showing it at BUILD 2015. Maybe the company does have some plan to enable Xbox One tie-in features for HoloLens, but it’s not talking about those plans yet.
Microsoft has hasn’t said when we can expect HoloLens to arrive on store shelves, though some are already speculating at a launch sometime next year. That’s when rumors say an update for Windows 10 codenamed Redstone is coming. Redstone is a material in Minecraft, a game that Microsoft itself admits it purchased in large part for HoloLens.
When it unveiled HoloLens, Microsoft only indicated that HoloLens would launch in the Windows 10 time frame.