Microsoft has officially rolled out the Windows Holographic, version 23H1 update for its mixed reality device, HoloLens 2. The update, which adds several new features to the device, comes as HoloLens 2 faces stiff competition from Apple’s newly launched Vision Pro headset.
Lola Bryan, in her blog post on the official Microsoft website, announced the new upgrade emphasizing its user feedback-based improvements. The 23H1 version of Windows Holographic has been upgraded to Windows 11, enhancing engineering infrastructure, OS update predictability, and app reliability.
For IT administrators, the upgrade facilitates easier management of HoloLens devices with features such as scheduled reboots and device resets. Users can access the 23H1 build via Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Update, and admins can manage updates using Windows Update for Business (WUfB) and MDM policy. However, it should be noted that users must have upgraded to Windows Holographic, version 21H1 before they can upgrade to 23H1.
Feature highlights of the 23H1 update include a Store app update from Settings, the availability of WebView2 control, device reset requirements in the Settings application, options for removing placements of an app in the mixed world, and more. HoloLens 2 devices also now support weekly scheduled reboots, display notifications for available updates, and improved Autopilot reset experiences.
While Microsoft is iterating on its HoloLens platform, Apple has entered the augmented reality (AR) market with its Vision Pro headset. How do the two stack up against each other?
In terms of design, Apple’s Vision Pro boasts a sleek aluminum build, resembling a pair of high-tech ski goggles, whereas HoloLens 2 maintains its industrial look with a visor-like form factor. Both headsets offer eye and hand tracking, as well as voice commands, but HoloLens also includes a gesture pad on the side, while Vision Pro has a crown on the top.
The Vision Pro offers a wider field of view and integrates with iOS and iPadOS apps, leveraging its Disney partnership. The HoloLens 2, however, offers advanced tracking capabilities and integrates with Windows apps, Azure services, and Dynamics 365 apps.
When it comes to resolution and refresh rate, Apple’s Vision Pro outshines HoloLens 2 with a total pixel count of 23 million pixels and a 90 Hz refresh rate, as opposed to HoloLens 2’s 4.6 million pixels and 120 Hz refresh rate. However, HoloLens 2 does boast up to 500 nits of brightness, and its exact counterpart in Vision Pro remains unknown, and access to the real world via a transparent visor, versus Apple’s pass-through camera system.
The price point for both devices is similar, with Apple Vision Pro retailing at $3,499 for consumers, expected to be available in the US in early 2024. The HoloLens 2 is available now, priced at $3,500 for developers and $4,500 for enterprises.
In terms of battery life, both devices offer approximately 2-3 hours, with Vision Pro offering an external battery pack and HoloLens 2 an internal one. HoloLens 2 offers quad positional and gesture cameras, whereas Vision Pro has dual passthrough cameras and additional positional and gesture cameras.
Given these comparisons, it’s clear that both Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 and Apple’s Vision Pro offer their unique benefits and drawbacks. Microsoft’s continual updates to its HoloLens 2 platform show its commitment to refining its product and maintaining a competitive edge in the AR market. As these technologies continue to evolve, we can only anticipate the advancements yet to come.