Microsoft expands HoloLens partner program to develop better mixed reality experiences – GeekWire

Cirque Du Soleil uses Microsoft HoloLens at Microsoft Build 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Microsoft is expanding the network of companies eligible to build mixed reality applications for HoloLens.

The new Mixed Reality Partner Program grandfathers in existing HoloLens Agency Readiness partners and also includes system integrators and digital agencies. Microsoft said in a blog post it decided to expand the network due to demand from partners and customers.

Microsoft further explains its move to expand the partner program in the blog post:

We’ve learned that successful mixed reality solutions are built on great experiences — and those experiences require both a creative design component and a strong competency in application and infrastructure integration and deployment. SIs around the world already know how to build, support, integrate and extend Microsoft technologies to meet their customers’ business and IT goals. As members of the Mixed Reality Partner Program, these SIs and digital/creative agencies will play a critical role in building 3D and mixed reality experiences for enterprise commercial customers.

Microsoft says eligible partners will go through a readiness program over several weeks that includes technical and sales training. If they complete the program and create a successful proof of concept, those teams will get access to Microsoft engineers for support and mentoring as well as help with sales and marketing.

Microsoft also offers a fast track for teams with greater expertise working on mixed reality products. Those groups will be able to work with Microsoft teams and HoloLens customers right away.

Microsoft has been steadily expanding its partner network to work with businesses to create commercial experiences for the mixed-reality holographic headset. In March, Microsoft added seven new digital agencies, all based in Europe, to its partner program.

Microsoft says today more than 30 agencies are working on HoloLens experiences for companies and groups including Boeing, Cirque du Soleil, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cylance, Lowe’s, Jabil, Paccar, PGA Tour, Real Madrid and Stryker.

Virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have largely targeted consumer and gaming experiences. Microsoft has taken a different approach with HoloLens, which can put virtual images onto surfaces and scenes in the real world. Microsoft is positioning HoloLens more for business applications at the outset. A Development Edition sells for $3,000 and a Commercial Suite for $5,000.

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