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Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset is getting a Windows 11 upgrade

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset is getting a Windows 11 upgrade


The update will improve app performance and allow developers to easily integrate web technologies into native HoloLens 2 apps.

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Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset on a metal stand
Image: Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Microsoft is bringing Windows 11 to its HoloLens 2 headset. The update will be available free of charge, and Microsoft says it should appear by the end of June as an optional upgrade. HoloLens 2 owners can continue to use Windows 10, but Windows 11 will offer better app performance and some key developer-focused additions.

“The free upgrade to Windows 11 promises continuous platform support, meaning our customers can trust in the continued security of their devices,” explains Robin Seiler, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows and devices, in a blog post. “With the upgrade, HoloLens 2 users will continue to receive monthly security servicing updates that reinforce the protection of sensitive information while also improving app performance.”

While the update doesn’t appear to bring any big user-facing updates outside of app performance improvements, there’s a key developer addition that should help improve apps. Microsoft is giving developers access to its Edge WebView2 control to allow them to embed HTML, CSS, and JavaScript easily into their apps. This should improve web-powered apps, and it’s the same control that Microsoft Teams is moving toward over its current Electron app.

The new annotation feature for HoloLens 2.
The new annotation feature for HoloLens 2.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has also improved its Dynamics 365 Guides feature on HoloLens 2. A new annotation feature lets HoloLens 2 users apply 3D drawings anywhere to freely illustrate during video calls. Microsoft is also rolling out a “Restricted Mode” for businesses to have better control over the mixed reality apps that run on the HoloLens 2 headset.

“This is a significant update for highly confidential facilities looking to enforce stricter access controls around systems and information deployed on HoloLens 2,” says Seiler. “Companies can better prevent unauthorized access to confidential information and highly sensitive data.”

These latest HoloLens 2 improvements come just months after Microsoft added full Teams integration to the HoloLens 2 while also teasing a potential HoloLens 3 headset. “We’re just looking for the right design point to make it a meaningful update,” said Scott Evans, Microsoft’s vice president of mixed reality, in December.

Since then, Microsoft says it has changed its “hardware portfolio” amid layoffs that affected HoloLens and many other divisions. Microsoft had reportedly scrapped plans for a HoloLens 3 last year. I recently heard from a source familiar with Microsoft’s HoloLens plans that the company is currently “evaluating” a next-gen HoloLens headset, but it’s still not clear if we’ll see a true HoloLens 2 successor.

Congress also denied the US Army’s request to buy up to 6,900 headsets based on HoloLens technology earlier this year but allowed work to continue on an updated headset in “a new form factor.” Recent reports have suggested that tests on the latest custom Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headsets are scheduled for 2025 after a contract between Microsoft and the Army was signed more than four years ago that’s potentially worth billions of dollars.