You'll no longer need to apply as a developer to purchase the AR viewer. What you will need, though, is a Microsoft account, $3,000 (£2,160, AU$4,202), and to live in the US or Canada.
AR, not to be confused with virtual reality (VR), aims to place digital objects in the real world. Pokemon Go gave us a little taste of what's possible with just our phones, but Microsoft's HoLolens is an entirely different experience.
It's also in an entirely different price range than consumer VR devices: the Oculus Rift costs $600 (£499, AU$649), HTC Vive $799 (£689, €899), and PlayStation VR $399 (£349, AU$549, €399). You'll pay more, and then some, for the Microsoft HoloLens than these VR headsets combined.
HoloLens features specialized AR technologies that map out your environment and allow you to interact with digital objects using gestures. In fact, Microsoft created an entirely new operating system for HoloLens called Windows Holographic. The headset also features spatial audio to make the experience more immersive.
Not fully baked yet
Keep in mind that Microsoft is selling you the Developer Edition of the HoloLens, and the final consumer version may look and feel dramatically different. You'll have to deal with all the bugs of an experimental product, like laggy voice controls and jittery visuals.
Although anyone can purchase HoloLens today, Microsoft intends to sell the headset to developers and business clients, not consumers. We were able to get through the checkout process, but we were required to acknowledge the following:
"I understand HoloLens Development Edition is intended for developers - not consumers - and experiences are in English only. Additionally, I acknowledge there are no refunds available on the HoloLens Development edition."
Despite the warnings, it's a good sign that Microsoft is making HoloLens available for more people to buy, as it means the company is getting closer to a finished product. With AR competitors like Magic Leap getting close to release, too, HoloLens can't come fast enough.
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