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Windows Holographic shell lets people use 2D and 3D applications together.
Windows Holographic shell lets people use 2D and 3D applications together.

Virtual reality may soon go mainstream following an announcement Tuesday that Microsoft and Intel are laying the foundation for VR-ready PCs. Microsoft also said it will release an update to Windows 10 next year enabling regular PCs to run Windows Holographic Shell, the platform that powers Microsoft’s HoloLens.

In June, Microsoft announced it would open Windows Holographic Shell to any virtual reality or augmented reality headset maker as the company hopes to play an important role in the burgeoning virtual/augmented/mixed reality realm. Today’s announcement takes that plan one step further.

“The Windows Holographic shell enables an entirely new experience for multi-tasking in mixed reality, blending 2D and 3D apps at the same time, while supporting a broad range of 6 degrees of freedom devices,” Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices Group, wrote in a blog post.

Microsoft and Intel are working with several partners on the first version of specs for mixed reality machines with plans to release them at the Windows Hardware Engineering Community conference in Shenzhen in December.

Microsoft’s HoloLens device is classified as AR, which allows users to see holographic images combined with the physical world while they don a headset. VR devices like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, on the other hand, offer a more immersive “virtual” experience. But regardless of AR vs. VR, Microsoft wants everybody building their technologies with Windows 10 on Windows Holographic Shell.

Microsoft has made several virtual reality moves just in the last few days. Just this morning it announced two new VR-ready Lenovo PCs for gamers on the go. And last week it released its hit world-building game Minecraft on Oculus Rift.

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