Microsoft has announced the new developer edition of HoloLens 2. Like the standard version of HoloLens, it’s supposed to cost $3,500, or $99 per month on an installment plan. Additional features over and above the standard HoloLens 2 model are, at this point, puzzlingly light.
Signing up for the developer edition will get you $500 in Azure credits and a three-month trial of Unity Pro and the Unity PiXYZ plug-in for bringing engineering renders into Unity’s real-time 3D development platform. If you want the developer edition, you’ll also need to sign up for the Microsoft Mixed Reality Developer Program.
This is somewhat underwhelming, as Techcrunch notes. $200 in Azure credit is available to anyone who creates an account. It’s a standard sweetener. Free trials of Unity Pro are also available, though typically limited to 30 days. Finally, the Developer Edition of HoloLens 2 is $3,500 — just like the standard business version. Typically DE’s are priced differently than standalone variants and have a more varied software package.
The major benefit of the DE flavor appears to be a lower monthly price ($100 per month, down from $125) and these additional, 60-day trial windows. We still don’t have an actual date on when HoloLens 2 hardware will be available beyond “before the end of the year.”
Microsoft has pursued a markedly different strategy for HoloLens compared with Google’s Glass. If its Mixed Reality headset hasn’t exactly taken the market by storm, it’s also avoided being linked to a cultural backlash around privacy and where it’s acceptable to wear a face computer. The company is prioritizing business use and business customers for HoloLens, with focused discussions on how the MR headset can be used to enhance productivity or design work as opposed to using it for social media posts or gaming. The idea of Minecraft in HoloLens is something Microsoft has explored, but gaming has not been a focus for the platform.
Thus far, Redmond has not unveiled a version of the headset primarily intended for consumer use. Given the controversy, that’s probably for the best. Companies have not yet found a strong use for AR in consumer markets, and products like Magic Leap have not distinguished themselves as consumer solutions. HoloLens 2 has also been controversial — Microsoft employees have protested after the company signed an agreement to provide the headset for military purposes.