Microsoft is probably working on a new Hololens
Hololens has already been declared dead - for companies that have invested in Microsoft's AR ecosystem, this would be a bitter blow. But Microsoft is probably still working on the AR headset.
Last year was marked by negative headlines for Microsoft's AR headset Hololens. Following the departure of Hololens co-creator Alex Kipman in June 2022, Business Insider reported that there was "no roadmap to speak of" for Hololens 3.
Microsoft is instead focused on fulfilling its military Hololens (IVAS) contract with the US Army, the sources said. But the military Hololens also has major problems.
Before leaving his longtime employer, however, Kipman contradicted rumors of Hololens 3 discontinuation, and a recent statement from his successor, Scott Evans, underscores the point. In an official blog, Microsoft's vice president of mixed reality hinted that a successor to the Hololens 2 is in the works.
New Hololens "not every two years"
"We’re just looking for the right design point to make it a meaningful update. They want a successor device that’s going to enable an even higher return on investment," Evans said.
After all, business customers targeted by the AR headset don't want to replace their devices every two years just to get a little more power. Microsoft keeps hearing from business customers that they don't want to go through the typical two-year retail cycle, Evans said.
"They don't need a successor yet, but they want to know that one will be available at the right time."
Microsoft is currently working on improvements in all the basic hardware areas, according to Evans. This includes the display, tracking, sensors as well as battery capacity. However, the term "update" could imply that it's not a major hardware leap for now. In any case, Evans isn't mentioning the name "Hololens 3." Hololens 2 was released in November 2019.
Evans said lessons learned from the IVAS military variant are also being incorporated into the development. The AR headset has its own specifications for U.S. Army applications, he said. But testing with military early adopters is good for identifying improvements for other, cheaper models at the same time, he said. Evans calls this a "trickle-down effect" in development.
Microsoft focuses on XR software, but could continue to work on hardware
Evans' recent comments contradict assumptions that Microsoft has put its own XR strategy on hold, especially when it comes to developing new hardware. Following the launch of Meta's new Quest Pro mixed reality headset, Microsoft announced an extensive collaboration with Meta on Windows and Office applications, so it is bringing its most valuable software to a potentially competing product.
In addition, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made it clear that Microsoft's Metaverse strategy is focused on software. Previously, there were rumors that Microsoft could work with Samsung on a new XR headset - however, the project is said to have already been discontinued. Samsung is now supposed to bring a new XR headset on its own next year.