Windows Mixed Reality is History
After having added three features to its deprecation list in December 2023 already, Microsoft has added Windows Mixed Reality as another one that is getting axed.
Microsoft introduced Mixed Reality as a feature of its Windows 10 operating system back in 2015. It did so at a time when the augmented reality (AR) hype was at a peak. Mixed Reality promised to push AR to the next level.
To better understand Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality, and Virtual Reality, it is important to understand the differences between these technologies and Virtual Reality.
Put simple, AR is designed to add "something" to the real physical world. Think of visual or auditive layers that these solutions add. This can be something simple, like the ability to browse websites or something more complex, like instructions on fixing equipment while fixing it.
Microsoft launched its HoloLens Mixed Reality headset and the underlying technology was called Windows Holographic until 2017 when its name changed to Windows Mixed Reality. Neither the industry nor the military seems to have shared Microsoft's enthusiasm for the technology. While there have been experiments, these don't seem to have had the desired results.
It did not help that the entire technology was best experienced with a hands on approach.
The deprecation ends Windows Mixed Reality's journey. Microsoft writes: "Windows Mixed Reality is deprecated and will be removed in a future release of Windows. This deprecation includes the Mixed Reality Portal app, and Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR and Steam VR Beta."
In other words, Microsoft is ending support for Windows Mixed Reality and the related technologies Mixed Reality Portal app and Windows Mixed Reality for Steam.
Deprecation means that the technology is no longer supported. It will be removed from Windows operating systems eventually. Microsoft does not reveal when exactly, but it is common that this type of change is introduced with feature updates or new Windows releases. The next potential target for such a removal is 2024 therefore.
Microsoft will release a new feature update for Windows 11 in 2024 and there is also the rumored release of Windows 12, or the next version of Windows, that is likely also happening in 2024.