Do you remember the hype over the Windows Mixed Reality platform? I certainly do ! That’s what made me go an order one on the day of launch, and I have got to say that after it arrived I was left fairly deflated with what I had just spent my money on. However with the arrival of my Surface Book2 I finally got it and since then I have become a bit of an addict.
Tip one – get the right device to run WMR
Biggest tip for sure is get the right device to run Windows Mixed Reality! When I first got the headset, I had heard the WMR would work on a Surface Pro 4, but plugging the device failed the WMR hardware test. So I tried on a Surface Laptop, that too failed. So I then brought a Lenovo laptop which met the criteria, I spent about £600 on the device, and though it ran it was very buggy. For example the speed of setting the environment took upto 10 minutues easily. Moving around was very a painful experience, yet the device met the requirement of WMR. So the frustrations of a middle aged man came through and I packed it up and stored it underneath my bed.
Lets fast foward into October 2018 when I start my new job working with the amazing team in Surface in the UK supporting education customers on there journey. This meant I could get my hands on a Surface Book 2 !, with an 8th gen Intel processor and chipset I thought it would be an ideal candidate for WMR – and it was !
Before I could use Surface with WMR of course I needed a new USB C to HDMI connector, so a swift purchase from the Microsoft store fixed that. Plugged in the headset and boon we were away, in the same room which had taken 10 minutes to setup, we were ready to go within 10 seconds, I could use the WMR controllers to navigate around swiftly and easily from the comfort of my chair.
Tip two – think outside the box !
My job role is mainly based from home, which is good in some respects and bad in others. The distraction of the being located near the coffee pot and in short range of the TV remote control can be a bit distracting. However with WMR and my Surface Book 2 I created my virtual office, which would give me access to all the information I require. I can :
- Access my files
- Using desktop applications
- Use the Windows Store to add apps
- Use Teams to make calls as require
- Listen to music
So here is a quick look around my office
As you can see my various screens are set up! Didn’t have to purchase four super large screen and put them in my office at home, I simply look and use the screen I want to. As you can see my Mail app is open on the left hand side and on the right is my calendar.
How about typing?
Well typing is as easy for me as texting with the controllers. However with more applications like Microsoft Office, having inbuilt dictation I made not need to use them in the future. Also the Immersive Reader application is now available in WMR also which allows for accessibility in using these headsets as it does across the rest of the Microsoft platform.
It may sound bizarre in a world of open plan offices and commuting to work, but having a view like this is quite therapeutic ! It means I can take some away from the screen as I would do in the physical world, listen to some music for example.
Here is another shot from the back of my office ! Seriously early days but being connected to the Microsoft Cloud services, Windows Mixed Reality allows me to be fully exploit the functionality in the comfort of my own home without the distractions. Don’t get me wrong the WMR headset is not on my head all day but it does focus me my taking out the distraction of the space around me.
Where might this go? Much as it did back in the 1960’s where someone invented the “open plan” office for striking collaboration and communication in teams of employees (which didn’t quite have the desired affect), students we are teaching could find this as a common way of working in the future. Certainly in school students with educational needs can find there own space and still take part in lessons.
It may well have been off to a slow start and overshadowed by the HoloLens device, but don’t under estimate the power of Windows Mixed Reality from Microsoft.