In describing the openness of the SDK, Doelle draws a direct comparison with when the iPhone came out with most of its APIs hidden from public view. "I think one of the reasons for that is that it's an enterprise edition," he says. "It's very openly developed knowing that companies will do lots of stuff with it, more than consumers would."
One thing that struck me when I put on the headset was the complete absence of wires tethering the device to a local computer. There was a laptop set up in the room showing a feed from the device, but all the image processing was going on in the headset itself.
The advantage of this is obvious, but does it feel limiting to a developer having to rely on what is essentially a mobile CPU?
"Not yet," he says, "[but] since it's got internet connectivity via Wi-Fi if I truly need processing power, massive processing power, then I could send it to the cloud and then get the data back."
However he concedes that there might be a problem for applications that need a little bit more processing power, without needing enough to justify outsourcing it to the cloud, in the "white space" as Doelle calls it.
Conclusion: Is Microsoft on the right track?
I'll freely admit I'm not completely sold on the hardware itself based on the admittedly short period of time I've spent with it. The screen feels too small and the gesture recognition doesn't feel accurate enough.
But what was reassuring was hearing the from a development point of view that Microsoft is recognising that an open SDK is the way to go, allowing devs to meddle and tweak to their heart's content.
So ultimately while the hardware may not feel final or polished in the same way as the Vive or Rift, Microsoft's attitude towards software should mean developers should have no problem getting to work, even if this work appears to be based more around business uses than games. For now.
- If you're interested in reading more about the hardware itself then check out our full Hololens hands on review.