Microsoft Readies HoloLens for Augmented-Reality App Development

Microsoft courts enterprises with a HoloLens bundle that includes several new IT management capabilities including a development version of the hardware.

HoloLens Commercial Suite

Microsoft is getting HoloLens ready for work. This week the company released the HoloLens Commercial Suite, a bundle that includes the Development Edition of the hardware along with new capabilities aimed at helping administrators securely incorporate the augmented-reality wearable into their IT environments.

While it was overshadowed by the release of the hotly-anticipated Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the announcement marks a major milestone in the company's efforts to get HoloLens into offices, labs, application development shops and media design studios.

Corporate customers can purchase HoloLens Commercial Suite by contacting their Microsoft account managers.

Aided by interactive 3D visuals that are projected onto the wearer's real-world environment, Microsoft is betting HoloLens will succeed in the enterprise.

The company envisions designers and engineers using HoloLens to manipulate 3D models in real time. Or it could enable technicians to collaborate on the repair of complex machinery or other engineering problems via the device's built-in video-conferencing capabilities, among many other business and industry use cases.

As enticing as these scenarios sound, large enterprises tend to shy away from technology that's tough to manage.

"We've also heard that companies are looking for a solution they can confidently pilot and deploy in their enterprises, so today we are introducing the Microsoft HoloLens Commercial Suite, which includes the Development Edition hardware as well as enterprise features for added security and device management," said Alex Kipman, a technical fellow in Microsoft's Windows and Devices division, in an Aug. 2 announcement.

Those enterprise features include a kiosk mode that allows organizations to lock down their HoloLens units by limiting which apps the hardware is permitted to run. On the networking front, it supports virtual private networks and WiFi access on networks that require secure access.

In terms of security, Microsoft HoloLens Commercial Suite supports the company's BitLocker data encryption and Secure Boot, which prevents unauthorized and malicious software like rootkits and low-level malware from loading during the startup process. The product also is compatible with Azure Active Directory for organizations that rely on the company's cloud-based identity management service.

HoloLens Commercial Suite also now plays well with customers using the mobile device management applications from Microsoft and others. "Your IT department can manage multiple HoloLens devices simultaneously using solutions like Microsoft InTune. You will be able to manage settings, select apps to install and set security configurations tailored to your organization's need," said Kipman.

Organizations can manage their HoloLens updates and keep their devices current using Windows Update for Business. Finally, administrators can set up private app stores with Windows Store for Business, allowing them to distribute company-sanctioned software to their HoloLens users.

A table describing the differences between the HoloLens Development Edition and Commercial Suite is available in this online support document. And soon, more users will be able to explore the differences for themselves.

Kipman also announced that Microsoft had shipped out all of the initial HoloLens orders placed by the first waves of developers. Consequently, all interested business customers and developers in the United States and Canada can purchase up to five HoloLens devices directly from Microsoft, said Kipman.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...