back to article Windows Mixed Reality: Windows Mobile deja vu?

Microsoft's Windows Mixed Reality technology hit the shelves five months ago and the signs aren't good: dropped by retailers and ignored by developers, Redmond could be facing another Windows Mobile moment. Unveiled in October 2016 and making it to market a year later, early reviews of the devices were so-so, with little to …

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Facepalm

Things are different under SadNads

He knows better than to hold a funeral for his competitors way before his own product has eaten all their lunches.

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FAIL

Re: Things are different under SadNads

"And developers stayed away in droves." (from article)

Seems it was better under Ballmer (at least for a while) when they were MORE about "Developers, developers, devellopers, developers" except when it became ".Not" "C-pound" and then "The metro" and UWP and now we get "YET ANOTHER FAIL" Hololens.

Thanks, Microshaft, for the moving target confusion. When developers see Windows "APE", Win-10-nic, and UWP, we say "Why the FORNICATE would we want 'yet another Micro-shaft developer platform' to develop for, when we all KNOW it will _REQUIRE_ Win-10-nic and all of our customers use 7!!!"

And THAT is why it failed.

/me points out if Win-10-nic had been made to be like 7, without the "cram it up your ass" adware/spyware/updates/2DFlugly, this would not have happened, or happened so quickly.

In other words, Micro-shaft, you _DROVE_ _THE_ _DEVELOPERS_ _AWAY_!!!

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Re: Things are different under SadNads

Excactly that, and so subtlely put, well done. I vote for you to provide 360 degree feedback to Nadella at his next performance review ;o)

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Just the usual then ....

M$ have absolutely no strategy.

Release products no-one wants

Release products people do want but make an arse of them

Buy over decent products (skype) and make an arse of them

Turn the magnificent Windows 7 in to a slurping nightmare with a terrible update strategy

Kill Windows Mobile which with proper development would have been a major competitor for Google / Apple

Release very expensive poor quality hardware that doesn't even work properly with their own OS

Seriously, how these muppets are still in business just amazes me.

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They're still in business because their bank account is the size of Texas, and it will take quite a while before that changes, however many blunders Microsoft makes.

Unless, of course, SatNad decides to repeatedly plonk a few dozen billion here and there to buy up promising tech before gutting it. That would likely hasten the process.

But it will still take time. A long time.

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Re: Just the usual then ....

Dammit. I once came as close as it gets to having been a Microsoft fan. But I can't disagree with anything that Djstardust has written there. I can even add putting their 3d and virtual reality crap into immovable locations in the start menu, arrogantly trying to force this stuff under our noses. Even having all those unmovable links (Paint 3d ffs) is merely an extension of the piss poor version of the start menu with it's arcane complexity if you want to rearrange links - that they had to reintroduce after the failure of Win 8.x which had also been a Microsoft attempt to force the public down roads it didn't want to follow.

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Re: Just the usual then ....

Seriously, how these muppets are still in business just amazes me.

I guess having a few beeee-LI-IONS in the Bank will help you along.

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Re: Just the usual then ....

Terry 6: "Dammit. I once came as close as it gets to having been a Microsoft fan."

I came much closer than that. Back in the 1990s, people used to jokingly ask me if I was on the MS payroll. But that was when Microsoft actually listened to its customers, and delivered the latest technologies cheaper and faster than its competitors. Bill Gates' long-term plans were aimed at anticipating customer needs, as opposed to creating products no one asked for and then forcing them down the market's throat.

Today, Microsoft is entirely oblivious to customer need. It's driven by its own internal agendas... and, above all, by Satya's burning need to maximize his quarterly stock reports.

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Boffin

Re: Just the usual then ....

Agree with everything but this:

Kill Windows Mobile which with proper development would have been a major competitor for Google / Apple

Nope, Windows Mobile was a stillborn platform. Only Microsoft could believe that anyone would voluntarily get suckered into "that shit OS that always crashes on PCs". They went through many iterations of it and all of them failed. Windows CE. Windows Mobile. Windows Phone. Windows RT. The only thing where they succeeded was in killing any sucker that bet on the platform for their hardware: Sendo, Palm, Nokia. At least Nokia was able to jettison the diseased post-Elopocalypse crap before it took them down.

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Re: Just the usual then ....

No Daniel B. If you haven't noticed there are plenty of us, not by any means generally Microsoft fans, who really liked our Windows phones and egret their passing. Basically, those who actually used the things, instead of carping ( or crapping) from the side lines liked them.

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Re: Just the usual then ....

@Daniel - The only thing where they succeeded was in killing any sucker that bet on the platform for their hardware

Not quite, back at the beginning (mid 90's) MS also succeeded in their hype campaign in destroying the (non-MS) mobile platform. Until MS started hyping the yet to be released Windows Mobile/CE whatever there was a growing market in mobile platforms and (non-MS) OS's. MS's approach effectively made many put off purchasing decisions and wait for MS to launch their product...

Interestingly, MS's failure to really deliver with Windows Mobile/CE probably contributed to Apple's much later successful launch of iOS...

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Re: Just the usual then ....

Of course that's also part of my anger with Microsoft - on top of Ribbon, advertising/data collection, Win 8.x, hiding and splitting up control panel items, default actual folders for user data placed in virtual folders then buried in with system folders in "Documents and Setting" as if these were compatible items, the Win10 version of a Start menu and omitting Publisher from Home and Student versions of Office, (like home users don't need to make greeting cards and posters etc). That they created this mobile platform with much fanfare, made it nice to use with plenty of useful features then instead of improving it over time they seem to have vandalised it. The early version of Windows Mobile had network support, which was very useful, so they removed it. The later versions of WinPhone were in a world where people wanted "apps" so they went out of their way to discourage producers instead of making sure they could provide them. They bought Nokia's phone line then priced it so that there were horrible cheap versions and expensive overpriced versions, but nothing in between until it was too late. Dammit, when they have a good product they seem determined to f*ck it up. And when they have a crap product they seem determined to force it on everybody.

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Boffin

Re: Just the usual then ....

Ok, my previous comment may have sounded like unfounded hate for the platform ... but that wasn't the case in the beginning. Remember HPCs? Those sounded awesome, and that was what Windows CE was made for. I even owned an HP Jornada at some point, which was pretty good for its time. I was more of a Palm guy myself, but those ceased to be good when they went WinMo. The HP Jornada, however, never ceased to be good.

I actually think that the downturn came around the time they decided to morph Windows CE into Windows Mobile. From there they started doing weird things with the platform, then decided to kill it and create Windows Phone ... and everything from there was just pure crap.

I had quite a number of friends using Windows Mobile phones, mostly latecomers to Palm and a couple of pre-Android Samsung handsets. I only got to see a single person using a Windows Phone handset, and he hated its guts.

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Coat

Mixed reality ?

Do you mean that stupid Metro-interface ?

Because switching between that and a 'normal' desktop still feels like switching between two completely different realities to me !

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Re: Mixed reality ?

Mixed-up terminology has become a Microsoft specialty. I asked a top holography researcher how he felt about Microsoft's appropriation of the term. He turned red and muttered "Don't ask!" And now, running literally years behind in Virtual Reality, Microsoft's response is to cook up yet another vague yet meaningless term.

Not a good omen. Inventing needless new lingo is usually a symptom of having one's head up one's corporate posterior. (Does anyone remember IBM's 'planar board,' 'pel' and 'fixed disk'?)

Also, a funny thing about Microsoft's 'mixed reality' headsets: they're not very good. (I've tried both the Acer and HP versions.) The vaunted 'inside out' tracking is about as accurate as you'd expect - i.e. equivalent to wearing a Kinect on your head. And hence nowhere near as precise as the laser-guided Vive or Rift.

Far from offering some superior 'mixed' experience, Microsoft-based headsets turn out to be no more than what they appear: a cheaper and cheezier alternative to the top-tier VR brands, that only works with Windows 10, and has only as much software support as it can borrow from Valve's generously open marketplace.

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Re: Mixed reality ?

The 'new lingo' reference reminds me of when I was looking through an IBM service manual and found a reference to 'change the AMD'. I had to look in the glossary to find that an 'AMD' is an 'air movement device'. The term 'fan' would have been more appropriate. Not on topic, just wanted to share.

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If the Samsung model was actually available in the UK I would buy one but it isn't and the specs of the others are all crap.

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I had exactly the same thought, after much research figured the "best" to get is the Samsung, not available so went for the second best, the Dell.

Display res is 1440x1440 per eye, less than Sammy (1440x1600) but has the same 110 degree FoV (next is Lenovo with 105 then the rest at 95).

Now the reason to go for the Dell (or Sammy if you want to import) over the others is simple, requirements. I run a not very beefy system, i5 4430, gtx970 and 16Gb RAM, less than the minimum specs for the Vive, with the Dell I can rank up settings to "omg, thats nice looking" and still have nice frame rates.

The obvious disclaimer here is that I've never tried the Vive or Rift on my PC so have no idea if my performance would be the same or better/worse. Vive/Rift games also work on the WMR, I'm spending many, many, many hours playing ETS2, also ED.

I think the main issue is that they are marketing it as a mixed reality device, who the hell knows what that means? It also isn't, it's just VR so if they marketed it as a VR device needing a less powerful PC then they may have got somewhere, also most of the early adopters have already adopted so it could quite well be that VR is at market saturation currently? of course, should MS let the WMR headsets slot into an XBONE then they will sell "a lot".

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I have a HP WMR headset, coupled with a GTX 1070 laptop. The reason I bought it was because the laptop was £50 cheaper with the headset thrown in, so I'd have had to been stupid to turn it down. There *are* apps that allow it to be 'mixed' reality - i.e. those cameras on the front, show an image inside of what you're looking at, allowing AR with a VR headset. But, that feature is really not ready for prime time, and hence they didn't advertise it and instead have a stupid name. But this is Microsoft, so you all knew that...

I also haven't tried the Vive or Oculus rift, but plenty of the steam store games work with WMR, and they are a completely different experience to 2D gaming, it's a completely different league, and I would thoroughly recommend it.

Nonetheless, Microsoft don't help themselves - it is stupidly confusing as to what WMR even is, the treehouse (virtual environment that starts up when you put on the headset) has no way to link to Steam, and VR gaming is going to be THE critical use-case. The major advantage MWR has is the fact that there are no additional sensors to drill into walls. It's actually properly portable, requiring just the cameras and a 30 seconds setup in a new location.

None of this really matters though - having a PC to run VR is simply too costly. I paid £1300 for my system in December to replace a dying laptop, and being that you need a GTX 1070 or above realistically (it's gotta run 2880x1440 minimum at no fewer than 90fps to avoid motion sickness) - that's not mass market money, that's early adoption enthusiast money, and that market has to be nearing saturation as these things have been out for ages now. You'd have to be a monumental fool to buy a WMR headset over an Oculus when they're the same RRP. Not only that, you're in ethereum mining territory with GPUs that can handle VR, ramping the cost even higher.

The only way to resuscitate WMR is whether the xbox1X a) is due for compatibility, and b) has the horsepower to run it without causing Tarquin to spew. That, in my humble opinion, is an end of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Calling it augmented reality is just Microsoft's old trick of renaming someone else's tech then pretending they invented it. Stolen straight out of the IBM playbook of old.

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Mushroom

WMR requirements?

Are Windows Mixed Reality requirements that much higher than Oculus Rift ones?

Because I have a cheap Bulldozer CPU with a Radeon 470 (that I thankfully bought just before the mining craze), and 95% of games run well !

(And the remaining 5% run so poorly, with similar "required minimums", that I'm suspecting that their developers just didn't bothered to test their games with Bulldozer CPUs!)

SteamVR benchmark even says that my PC is "VR Ready!" : https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1116639906

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Re: WMR requirements?

Are Windows Mixed Reality requirements that much higher than Oculus Rift ones?

No, you can run a WMR headset on an Intel 620 or an Nvidia MX150 or 965M (yeah, I dunno either) but that'll only get you the basic set up at 60Hz rather than 90 which needs a GTX960 or 1050. That is the beauty of the Windows rig, you don't need a beefy £1,500 system to run VR.

Like I said before, my rig is just a GTX970 with a 4430 yet I play a lot of Euro Truck Simulator 2 in VR, which is a driving game, in VR and I get no hint of nausea no matter how many hours I play, except when I get a frikken ticket because a bad driver under takes me on a roundabout and crashes into me.

This link will let you download the checker for your system, to see if WMR will run (it will)

/edit - just noticed you're AMD, min vga for "ultra" is RX460/560.

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Well, at least it's sold more than sold more than Magic Leap!

Maybe it's the confusing message than hasn't helped - its taken me five minutes online to work out what MS mean by Mixed Reality. Seems a reasonable concept - using Kinect-like room mapping to track the VR headset with added bonus the real life coffee tables can be virtually rendered so you don't walk into them. Perhaps 'VR Plus' might have been a better tag for MS to use.

I haven't followed the VR market very closely, though because of my CAD background - the traditional testing ground if strange niche visualisation tech - the Hololens intrigues me in a MK I proof of concept kind of way. For the same reason I'm interested in Qualcomm's real time active IR 3D scanning and Apple's custom silicon - get the feeling the latter are keeping something under their hat in readiness for a big push into consumer/retail space, cos they seem to have gone to a lot of effort just for a face animated poo emoji.

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"its taken me five minutes online to work out what MS mean by Mixed Reality"

It's taken me 1 minute: it's not a product, it's actually their corporate strategy since Nadella took over. The whole company is in "mixed reality" mode, seems half of them don't have a connection with reality, and the other half who are grounded are getting well pissed off.

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FAIL

Yeah, it really wasn't ready, was it?

Compare this 2015 CES demo :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgakdcEzVwg&t=2m25s

To the finished product commercial :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AWhsBNU1jU

It's like the augmented reality part just disappeared...

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Gimp

AR is something I would like to see in work. I can still see my mouse and keyboard but have a couple of virtual monitors surrounding me. One window would be code, another the console with outlook running somewhere in a corner. Just a pirty the potential isn't going to be realised this time round. VR is too antisocial for me to use a lot at home. Have a gear VR and am lucky if I can get to use that one or twice a month.

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As far as I can see, it is still more expensive, lower resolution, etc etc than just having 3 (or more) monitors.

The "virtual cinema" thing is pointless, when a big TV can be had relatively cheap, and not have screen door effect.

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Given it's my wish list I'd want a high res display and the current gen of VR/AR/MR headsets are probably about the same price as a couple of decent monitors. I do have three different monitors, all difference sizes, shapes and resolutions. One is an old dell which is pratically square and good for working with documents but is low res. Another is a newer dell which is widescreen and good for looking at code (I can't be the only person who puts two method codes with their parameters inside an assert) but I barely get forty lines of code on the screen. The third is an a 3k 13" laptop screen. Moving windows between them is a resizing hassle.

Bonus point for blocking out the distractions of a busy office and making the backdrop look like somewhere on the Med. I'll even fly out there and take some high res pics if I need to.

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>Moving windows between them is a resizing hassle.

It is things like this that make you wonder just what the developers have been doing at MS these last 20+ years; clearly they don't spend time either using the product for real-world work or talking to people in the world of real-work.

Mind you MacOS and Linux aren't that much better...

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AR is a great concept, but the current postage-stamp-sized AR field of view is far too limited. AR objects tend to appear and disappear as you look around, which is extremely disconcerting. This level of technology is fantastic for certain technical applications, but not exactly fun to use.

Unfortunately, delivering an AR display that fills the human field of view, let alone our peripheral vision, seems to be an intractable optics problem, not readily solved by throwing more silicon at it. I believe there is some promising work being done, but I've seen no word of any recent breakthrough. For now, the kind of technology people think of when they say 'AR' remains exclusively in the province of science fiction.

By the way, Epson has had an Android-driven product, near-identical to HoloLens, for quite a few years. So zero points to Microsoft for reinventing yet another wheel. (And then making it needlessly exclusive to Windows 10.)

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Unfortunately, delivering an AR display that fills the human field of view, let alone our peripheral vision, seems to be an intractable optics problem, not readily solved by throwing more silicon at it.

I heard the other day (from a friend in a pub, but, like me, he's been in the games industry for more years than either of us can count and therefore might be privy to insider information), that the next version of Hololens will have a much wider field of view.

Luckily I had a pinch of salt handy, but I live in hope. Presumably it's a problem that will be solved eventually though, so why not this year?

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Isn't it time HoloLens got past being a developer only product? Maybe they will announce that at Build, but knowing Microsoft we will have to wait until all the market momentum has passed.

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re: Hololens

but knowing Microsoft we will have to wait until all the market momentum has long disappeared over the both the 'virtual' and real horizon.

TFFY.

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Hololens has been available for purchase for sometime. They haven't marketed it as a consumer device because it's just too expensive right now, and needs better software support. (I guess.) It is still pretty cool though - I had a chance to play with one about 18 months ago.

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On the positive side...

"Redmond could be facing another Windows Mobile moment."

Well, as long as they're not charging $100,- solely for the right to develop stuff for the machine you just bought then they might be ok on that front. Because I think that's one of the major reasons mobile took a dive. I bought Windows Mobile, I installed the SDK and I couldn't even mess with my own phone because Microsoft wanted even more money. $100,- to use my own phone for development. On a platform which had yet to proof itself.

And the ironic part was that if I had chosen Android then I could just have unlocked my phone manually and dumped whatever code I wanted onto it to get stuff done. But I pick Microsoft because I enjoy Windows, I install the SDK because I want to dive into the platform and I get 'fined' $100 because of that. Gee... I really wonder how that concept could have failed so hard...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: On the positive side...

So you should be fined, for enjoying Windows.

Seriously though, the development path for Win Mobile was far worse than having a fee. Their mentality was as though they had dominance. It was so arrogant, it was embarrassing. One of the (many) things that's made me move away from Windows development.

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Devil

Re: On the positive side...

Their mentality was as though they had dominance. It was so arrogant, it was embarrassing. One of the (many) things that's made me move away from Windows development.

They're used to that arrogance; somehow they don't realize that outside of the desktop/laptop PC OS and office productivity software, they're far from being the predominant player.

See how they pissed away their market share by trying to pull off the DRM fiasco and then ram Kinect down everyone's throats. By the time they relented, it was too late and the PS4 was outselling them 2:1. Even the Switch has sold more units, and that platform was released years after the XBone(d).

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Developing for Windows MR and Hololens now

It took time to get our first headset, now we’re developing Windows MR and Hololens software for IT management. We showed our first prototype yesterday and will invest heavily in it.

Oculus and Vive are for gaming and porn. But Microsoft’s solution is... well a solution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Developing for Windows MR and Hololens now

will invest heavily in it

This your first time with Microsoft tech?

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Re: Developing for Windows MR and Hololens now

Well once upon a time I heard tell of the Natural Keybords, and their Mice wern't half bad either.

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Re: Developing for Windows MR and Hololens now

I have several big boxes full of Microsoft's great peripherals. Superb joysticks and SideWinder gamepads that no longer work, because they need a game port. The excellent 'Dove Bar' mouse. The early IntelliMouse, before they over-complicated and downgraded it.

I still use the Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard - the best keyboard ever made for touch-typing, by light years. Unfortunately, they do wear out, and each one I've bought over the years has tended to have more flaws than the last. Last time round, I got one with a flaky 'M' key... so every word I typed with an M in it was likely to be misspelled.

I guess MS mice are still not bad. However, these days I find 'gaming' mice (especially those from Razer) to be far more precise and pleasant to use over the long haul. In this, as in so many other categories, Microsoft has happily ceded the leading-edge position.

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Re: Developing for Windows MR and Hololens now

Despite all its issues, I'm not aware of anything that could reasonably replace my Surface Pro 3...

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Happy

Re: Developing for Windows MR and Hololens now @fung0

"I have several big boxes full of Microsoft's great peripherals. Superb joysticks and SideWinder gamepads that no longer work, because they need a game port."

Just buy a USB game port adapter for very little money. Some features like pedals may or may not work I hear, YMMV.

I have a second hand Thrustmaster 16000m USB joystick for playing Wing/Strike Commander, Privateer, X-Wing and such in Dosbox. Works perfectly though the games don't support the extra axes and buttons the modern stick has.

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After much fanfare, one of the United Kingdom's largest retailers, Currys PC World, have quietly dropped the entire range while retaining the Oculus and Vive models.

You know you are in trouble when PC World drops your product.

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Pointless

AR/MR are destined for the consumer trash pile. There's nothing there that excites the average buyer. Annoying, cumbersome, expensive headsets that require tethering to powerful PC's, limited software, poor support and general overall lack of direction means there's so little interest, I give it 12 months before vendors start throwing in the towel. Only professional 'niche' markets will make any use of the tech, but it will still be limited.

VR is the realm of gamers. Full, immersive gameplay with high quality visuals and 360deg sound is an expensive proposition, and in all honesty still a few years away, but that's the only area that stands any chance. Gamers tend to spend a lot of money on their rigs and are the only ones who *may* keep the tech afloat.

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Re: Pointless

AR/MR are interesting (and fun tech) but in niche only. Forcing this crap onto every instance of Win 10 and making it unremovable except using arcane PowerShell scripts is additionally moronic, and typically Microsoft.

Trying to pitch it at board level just doesn't work either: We are still printing out paper reports for a reason and given the ease with which these can be scribbled on and the flexibility of reading this will continue for quite some time.

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Facepalm

Re: Pointless

It's 3D glasses for TV all over again.

Yeah, sure, all the family will have no problem sitting there in silence with those specs on getting headaches watching a distorted TV picture. The solution, for those hold-outs who don't get the memo, is to just keep on blindly shovelling money down the same marketing black hole. It's gotta work then, right?

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Re: Pointless

AR/MR/VR is a niche market in both consumer and business - period, full stop. Most people will do not have any real use for them or need to justify plonking down some cash. At best they should be an accessory device with installable drivers not part of the OS.

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Re: Pointless

Not "period, full stop". Smartphones were niche too. Then Apple got in the game and dazzled everyone with their marketing (remember how the first iPhone, unlike its competitors, didn't even have third party apps, copy/paste and 3G at launch?).

With better technology, usability and marketing AR/MR/VR is very likely to become much more than niche.

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Re: Pointless

With better technology, usability and marketing AR/MR/VR is very likely to become much more than niche.

Yep, ultimately that "better technology" will come in the form of AR contact lenses or retinal implants. Today's AR/VR hardware is on the level of Babbage's Difference Engine compared to the biggest super computer available today.

You think kids with their phones are annoying today... you ain't seen nothin' yet.

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