By now, most of you here on Gamespot have likely read the recent headlines talking about Microsoft's latest major tech reveals.
In particular, the HoloLens, and Windows 10.
I want to start by saying that I haven't looked too deeply into either thing. I haven't tried a Windows 10 beta, like I guess some people have over the past few months. I haven't read up on things much. And I haven't really sat and read every article on this website about the HoloLens. I've had my nose in WOW a lot. And aside from that... I just haven't. But I am intrigued by the notion of it all. Maybe overwhelmed, too.
The way I see it is, there isn't a whole lot I can do until this stuff is relevant for me, personally. Tell me when I can finally download Windows 10 already, then I'll want to see Windows 10 in action. Tell me when HoloLens is on the market and is something that I can afford, and use to do something fun or worthwhile with. (In all likelihood, Windows 10 is probably going to matter more to me than HoloLens in the immanent future.)
But anyway, in case you haven't seen the HoloLens reveal video... Here it is.
Essentially what I took from the trailer, is that Microsoft has created a computer headset, that enables you to literally place 'windows' in the open space in front of you, and control them with motion. You can create icons and images and modify the appearance of real objects in the hologram space, and communicate with others using the headset. Many uses, plausible or embellished as they may have been, were shown. These included walking someone through the installation of a new sink trap, watching a sports match and checking the weather in real-time, customizing a motorcycle with a special 3D overlay created on a PC and modifying its parts with hand gestures, and playing with a miniature Minecraft world` app right in your living room.
In all honesty, it was very impressive. I had a voice in the back of my head reminding myself that it all seemed embellished and a little too far-fetched the entire time that I was watching it. But then, even if a device could do half of what was shown in this video, that would still be some very interesting tech. I can already see a not-so-far-off future where we could all slap one of these sets on our head and use it as a real-time GPS device, with signs and markers appearing as 'windows' all around us as we move about. I can see us taking Youtube one step further and having step-by-step walkthroughs of things complete with holographic models and markers. To me, that is it man, that is the future. The future is now. Or the beginning of it, at least.
It reminded me a little bit of the technology Norman Jayden used in Heavy Rain. I remember that seemed far-off when I played it about 2 years ago, but now it actually seems like this sort of device could be very plausible. And we may not even need a special glove to use it, either!
Of course, I really don't want to ignore the things that make this technology seem too good to be true, either. For starters, a head-mounted computer with technology like this has really got to eat up battery life quickly - so this thing will probably run out of juice fast. I don't expect to see people walking around with these things on their heads for 24 or even 8 hours at a time yet. But, what do I know.
There's also the matter of how this thing connects to the Internet, because I'm pretty sure it will need to in order to accomplish a lot of these lofty goals. My guess is that, based off of the video, for now this sort of thing will just run off of wireless Internet access - so it's something you could use at home or in the office. I wouldn't expect to be able to use this thing on the go, like a cell-phone. At least, not yet.
I also hope that this thing has a harddrive, or some sort of storage device. I imagine it does, but I really hope this isn't all linked to the 'cloud'. One scene showed a person receiving a file over OneDrive, so I imagine that got stored locally. At least, I hope so!
I guess another concern, which isn't about the HoloLens so much as it is about humanity, is whether we are truly ready for something like this? I can see a lot of laws coming into play, and a lot of intelligent and not-so-intelligent individuals taking advantage of this technology to do bad things with it. You can really use your imagination with that one, but I think there is a lot of possibility for foul play with this thing.
Changing gears a bit, Microsoft also talked a lot more about Windows 10, and confirmed that it would be available as a free upgrade for anyone currently running Windows 7, 8, or mobile, for the first year following its launch. Windows 10 looks to make many drastic improvements from Windows 8, but also looks to combine ideas from all of its current operating systems into one hybrid OS. And it works on any Windows-capable device. So you will have the same OS on your PC, laptop, tablet, Windows Phone and XBOX One, tailored to the device.
Windows 10 will also make it possible for you to stream your XBOX One games to your PC, laptop or tablet to continue playing them. And in the future many XBOX One games will continue to be released on the PC as well - notably Fable Legends, which will enable cross-play between players of both versions.
I see this news as a little bit good and bad, at the same time. On the one hand, it's a great new option and progresses streaming technology options with the XBO and other Windows 10 devices. On the other hand, Microsoft basically said that it will continue to get away from making games exclusive to the XBox One and make some of them for the PC also, and PC gaming won't really be revitalized since you still need to buy an XBox One to stream its exclusive games to your other devices.
It also raises the question of whether console gaming will die off as a result of so many different devices being able to play (or at least stream) console-quality games nowadays.
This is all really a lot for me to wrap my head around. I think over all this event was a huge success for Microsoft, and is doing a lot to bolster their agenda and return the company to good standing with consumers. And I think we will see a lot of changes in technology - and quite possibly the world - as a result of a lot of these changes. (At the very least, because such a high-profile of company is exploring these options, and others will want to follow suit.)
I think I understand why Satya Nadella was so keen on keeping the XBOX brand around now. I think Kinect, while not a perfect device, made a fantastic basis for the kind of technology that went into making the HoloLens. Microsoft could continue to use their game consoles as a testing-ground for emerging technologies, pursuing new methods of entertainment while simultaneously pursuing better tech.
It might not be a stretch to think we will see game developers making games that utilize the HoloLens, possibly during the life of the XBOX One. If the technology is good enough to catch on outside of gaming, then it will likely find its way into gaming. I have to wonder what people in the industry are thinking after hearing about HoloLens - surely there is someone out there with the right amount of imagination and know-how that will know what to do next.
Microsoft is becoming relevant again. And this is likely to start an intense, new competition between Microsoft, Apple, Google, Sony, and the other major players in the computer, communications, tech, research and game industries. A lot will be learned from Windows 10, HoloLens and Microsoft's other current ventures. People will try to make their own versions of things, or maybe even support them! It is an exciting time to be a geek...
...And since I'm broadcasting this blog as a thread, I figured I'd like to see what other people make of all this Microsoft news. I want to hear what other XBOne owners as well as people in general have to say, so I'll try to post it in two forums.
Some talking points:
- Do you think HoloLens is the next big step for computers and tech?
- Will HoloLens be all its cracked up to be?
- Has anyone here tried Windows 10 yet? If so, what do you think of it?
- Do you think Microsoft is making a good or bad move by releasing XBox One games on PC also?
- ...and by enabling XBox One streaming?
- What would you like to see done with the HoloLens tech? Where do you think its application would be useful?
- Do you think Microsoft is becoming relevant again, now?
- If I didn't understand something I discussed, or didn't research it enough (I probably didn't), then feel free to clarify and enlighten me!
I'd love to hear your thoughts!