At the launch of the HoloLens 2 at Mobile World Congress 2019 Alex Kipman promised that the Microsoft HoloLens would be an open platform other companies can innovate in.
This is built on 3 principles – open stores, open browsers and open developer platforms.
Specifically, Microsoft will let developers create their own app stores, meaning they can profit directly from the platform with their own rules and own collection of solutions. One can imagine for example a store which would allow adult content Microsoft would not specifically authorise themselves.
Secondly, Microsoft will allow alternate browsers with the same access as Edge, and at the event announced that Firefox Reality browser would come to the HoloLens 2.
In a statements (via VRFocus) Lars Bergstrom, Director of Engineering for Mixed Reality at Mozilla said:
“In the coming months, we will be working with the Rust community to bring the language and runtime that enable us to deliver a more secure experience to the HoloLens platforms, and we will then build on our previous work on AR headsets to bring our next generation web platform, Servo, to the HoloLens 2 when it is available this summer.”
Lastly, Alex said developers would have access to all the same APIs as Microsoft, and brought on stage the biggest advocate of open platforms, Tim Sweeney from Epic Games, who announced that Unreal Engine 4 support is coming to HoloLens, with the API coming available in May. This should deliver photo-realistic 3D rendered objects to HoloLens users, but not necessarily games for the enterprise-focussed device.
It seems likely that Microsoft hopes a more open approach will increase developer adoption of the HoloLens, which can be a self-reinforcing spiral. Microsoft said to expect more announcements in this vein to flesh out the news.