Microsoft Wants Businesses To Start Playing With Its HoloLens Headsets

August 3, 2016, 9:58 AM UTC

Microsoft released its HoloLens augmented reality headsets to software developers back in March, and now it’s trying to drive them into the enterprise.

The company has made a couple moves to this end. First, it has now made it possible for anyone in the U.S. and Canada to buy up to five units of the HoloLens Development Edition—the first iteration of the holographic computer—in the Microsoft Store.

Previously, buyers had to go through an application process to say they were developers, before waiting for an invitation to purchase the device. They also had to be members of the Windows Insider program, which is a community that tests out early versions of Microsoft’s software.

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Crucially, Microsoft (MSFT) has also now released what it calls the HoloLens Commercial Suite, a package that includes the HoloLens Development Edition along with a bunch of features for enterprise users.

Businesses’ IT departments get mobile device management capabilities for HoloLens, allowing them to manage the settings, apps and security configurations for multiple headsets simultaneously. They can also encrypt the data on the device, and set things up so people can use HoloLens to remotely access their corporate networks.

The suite provides a “kiosk mode” so the device can be limited to run only certain apps for demo or showcase purposes, and IT departments can also set up private app stores for use within their company.

Many people are looking forward to seeing the gaming potential of the HoloLens “mixed-reality” headsets, which superimpose virtual-reality imagery over what the user sees in the real world. However, they are still not exactly consumer products. They cost $3,000 a pop, but for many businesses looking to pilot new use cases, that’s probably not so expensive.

For more on HoloLens, watch our video.

As for what use cases businesses will come up with, that’s largely down to their needs and their creativity. As Microsoft noted in a Tuesday blog post, people are already using HoloLens for training flight crews and aircraft mechanics.

It’s worth noting that apps built for HoloLens should in future run on a wide range of devices. Microsoft said in June that it was working with chipmakers and many device manufacturers to get them building products for the underlying “Windows Holographic” platform.