Microsoft’s HoloLens, an augmented-reality headset that superimposes holograms over the user’s real-world environment, is now available to all developers… provided they can cough up $3,000 for it.
The HoloLens Development Edition hardware comes bundled as part of the HoloLens Commercial Suite, which includes a number of features designed to make developers’ workloads easier, including “kiosk mode” (which limits which apps can run, in order to facilitate demos) and a private store for business apps.
The latest edition of the HoloLens software (10.0.14393.0, Windows 10 Anniversary Release) includes an updated HoloLens emulator, gamepad support, attach-to-process debugging, and various bug squishes.
Microsoft isn’t the first tech giant to market a developer version of a device for a princely sum. Back in 2012, tech pros had the option of preordering Google Glass (along with an SDK) for $1,500. (In a contemporaneous posting on Google+, Google tried to defend that price-tag by suggesting many tech pros’ workplaces would actually pay that cost.) Although pundits generally predict that the price of the HoloLens will dip by the time it hits the commercial market, the final retail version of the device will likely cost several hundred dollars.
In the emerging world of augmented- and virtual-reality headsets, even several hundred dollars for a piece of hardware isn’t a shockingly high price, at least compared to other gear on the market. The Oculus Rift, for example, retails for $599, while the HTC Vive is $799.
But that high price may also slow the rate of adoption, especially if augmented- and virtual-reality platforms remain primarily gaming-focused. At this juncture, Microsoft seems to be angling the HoloLens at businesses in addition to the gaming community, which could give it a chance at breaking into the mainstream. But as with any new piece of hardware, success hinges on the presence of killer apps that people absolutely must buy—and that means Microsoft would like developers to pony up that $3,000 for a HoloLens.