Category Archives: Windows Mixed Reality

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Announcing Babylon.js v3.1

Babylon.js is an open source framework that allows you to easily create stunning 3D experiences in your browser or your web apps.
Built with simplicity and performance in mind, it is the engine that fuels the Remix3D site, Xbox Design Lab or 3D objects preview in Teams or OneDrive on the web.
Earlier this year we announced the third version of the engine. Today I’m glad to announce its first update: Babylon.js v3.1.

The main goal of this version was to provide helpers to achieve high end tasks. Let’s see some of them:

Improving VR experiences with the VRExperienceHelper
Babylon.js v3.0 introduced support for WebVR and VR controllers (including Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus and HTC Vive). With 3.1 release, we wanted to make the process to add VR experience in your code simple.
Therefore, we introduced the VRExperienceHelper which will take care of the following for you:
Create the HTML button to enter VR mode
Create a WebVRCamera (if supported) and a DeviceOrientationCamera as a fallback (this camera will allow you to use device orientation events to control your scene. This is useful on mobiles for instance)
Add support for teleportation and rotation in the same way you can experience it in the Windows Mixed Reality cliff house
Add support for controllers picking (you can use your controllers to interact with the scene) and gaze picking (you can use your gaze to interact)
All of this will be available with literally 3 lines of code:

var VRHelper = scene.createDefaultVRExperience();
VRHelper.enableTeleportation({floorMeshName: "Sponza Floor"});

You can try it here: https://www.babylonjs-playground.com/frame.html#JA1ND3#15

We also added more WebVR demos on our homepage for you to try:

Building a 3D experience with 2 lines of HTML with Babylon.js Viewer
Babylon.js viewer is a new tool to allow you to integrate 3D into your web sites or web apps in a couple of seconds. Everything can be done directly from your web page:

<body>
<babylon model.title="Damaged Helmet"
model.subtitle="BabylonJS"
model.thumbnail="https://www.babylonjs.com/img/favicon/apple-icon-144×144.png"
model.url="https://www.babylonjs.com/Assets/DamagedHelmet/glTF/DamagedHelmet.gltf">
</babylon>
<script src="//viewer.babylonjs.com/viewer.js "></script>
</body>

With these two lines of HTML you can create a complete touch aware 3D viewer anywhere in your page.
http://viewer.babylonjs.com/basicexample
The viewer can be configured in all possible way either with HTML attributes, JavaScript code or even with DOM elements:

<babylon extends="minimal" scene.default-camera="false">
<model url="https://playground.babylonjs.com/scenes/BoomBox.glb" title="GLB Model" subtitle="BabylonJS">
</model>
<camera>
<behaviors>
<auto-rotate type="0"></auto-rotate>
</behaviors>
</camera>
<lights>
<light1 type="1" shadow-enabled="true" position.y="0.5" direction.y="-1" intensity="4.5">
<shadow-config use-blur-exponential-shadow-map="true" use-kernel-blur="true" blur-kernel="64" blur-scale="4">
</shadow-config>
</light1>
</lights>
</babylon>

All the user interface can be updated to reflect your brand and the configuration model can also be extended.
Please follow this link to our documentation to learn mode about the Babylon.js viewer: http://doc.babylonjs.com/extensions/the_babylon_viewer
Create your demo setup with a few lines of code thanks to the EnvironmentHelper
For non-3D experts, setting up a 3D environment (lights, skyboxes, etc.) could be tricky. Therefore, we added a tool named EnvironmentHelper and directly available on the scene to help you with this task.
Using it is straightforward:

var helper = scene.createDefaultEnvironment();
helper.setMainColor(BABYLON.Color3.Teal());

And you can then get a good-looking setup (skybox + ground) adapted to your scene:

The helper offers a lot of options like enabling reflections or shadows:

var helper = scene.createDefaultEnvironment({
enableGroundMirror: true,
groundShadowLevel: 0.6,
});

See a live version here: https://www.babylonjs-playground.com/#4AM01A
Helping the community with our glTF exporter for Autodesk 3dsmax
We introduced support for glTF 2.0 in Babylon.js 3.0 and we wanted to help our community to produce assets in this open standard format. This is the reason why we worked on adding support for glTF export in our Autodesk 3dsmax exporter.
You can now create your scene in 3dsmax and directly export it to glTF in one click:

More info here: http://doc.babylonjs.com/resources/3dsmax_to_gltf
From the client to the server: Introducing the NullEngine
Starting with Babylon.js v3.1, we introduced the NullEngine which is a version of the main Babylon.js engine but we no need for a WebGL capable device.
The NullEngine will obviously not produce any rendering and thus can be used in a node.js / server-side environment.
It can be used to:
Run tests
Run a server-side version of your application / game
Use specific Babylon.js services (like glTF loaders for instance)
More details can be found here: http://doc.babylonjs.com/features/nullengine
Improving the codebase
Babylon.js is entirely written in TypeScript. In order to improve the quality of the code we decided to turn on all strict type checking offered by the latest version of TypeScript (like the strict null check introduced by TypeScript 2.0 or the strict function types added by TypeScript 2.6).
With stricter type checking we can capture errors and bugs at compilation time and thus provide more reliable code for the community.
Improving documentation
Writing good documentation is a complex task. With this release we added more content for beginners. We now have complete course starting from scratch and going through all important aspects of the engine.

We also added several multi-steps guide so you can read and learn at your own pace.
If you want to know more or just want to experiment with our latest demo, please visit http://www.babylonjs.com/.
And if you want to join the community and contribute, please join us on GitHub!

Watching in awe as artists bring their visions to life in mixed reality

I’ll never forget the first time I experienced mixed reality.
It was a pre-production version of Microsoft HoloLens, and I tried a demo that had fish swimming around the room, seaweed on the floor and bubbles floating around me.  Eventually, the demo team had to gently suggest I leave, because I was mesmerized.  The fish were bouncing off the walls. The bubbles were popping on the ceiling.  I could see everything in the room and the people in it, and I could see more – things that felt just as real.  I couldn’t get enough.
Part of me is still in that moment because it’s what has motivated me to work as hard as I can with teams across Microsoft to build the devices, platforms, experiences and services that will enable infinite mixed reality experiences.
Everyone working in mixed reality today is a pioneer as they push forward, defining boundaries of technology, design and user experience while reinventing industries, education and communication.
Today, I want to talk about one group of pioneers who are using mixed reality to change the way we see the world: artists.
 

Since the early days of HoloLens, we have had the chance to see what happens when artists use their unique ability to see the potential of a new medium or technology. I have always been passionate about paying attention to what artists are doing with new technology platforms.  Artists, whether visual artists, media, sculpture, dance, theater or others, have both courage and the ability to see things differently.
It has been amazing to see what has been created.
Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation Exhibit at Art Basel
Last week we kicked off a partnership with Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) at Art Basel in Miami. Their exhibit, “Sandu Darie: An Immersive Experience,” aims to make important Cuban works of art accessible beyond the constraints of their physical location. The experience makes available public works of art that are permanently located in Cuba and brings them to life using Mixed Reality Viewer, Windows Mixed Reality headsets and HoloLens. For the first time outside of Cuba, visitors could view large-scale works of art in their real world through these two immersive experiences.
A photographer captures images of Cuban artist Sandu Darie’s El Día y La Noche (1982) in Havana that were used to digitally recreate the sculptural mural as a hologram
Case Western Reserve University mixed reality dance shared experience
Case Western Reserve University has truly been a pioneer in mixed reality. From the building of anatomy class experiences, to expanding to physics classes, and more recently exploring the arts with the British Museum and others, the team at Case has been leading from the edge.
I recently had the opportunity to have another once-in-a-lifetime experience: the first-ever, large-scale shared mixed reality dance performance. Eighty people all wore HoloLens to see dancers and holograms in the same performance, for the first time.  The team had no idea how to pull this off when it was conceived by the Creative Director, XX, but that’s why we’re in this space: to bring things that seem impossible into focus, and then to just figure out how to do them.
Take a look at their blog post and video to learn more about how the vision ultimately came to life.
Cornish College of the Arts
I spent two years in early HoloLens development saying, “Imagine when you go to the first holographic art gallery opening.  There will be wine and cheese, maybe some light music, but no art.  You walk in and see empty walls, empty stands. But then you put on HoloLens and the gallery is full of rich art.”
I would marvel over this with other people.
Well, this has happened, and much earlier than I expected.
Cornish College of the Arts pioneered the first exhibit in 2016, called “Through the HoloLens,” which allows students to bring to life their artistic expression in new ways through painting, dance, performance and other forms. I was fortunate to experience this firsthand with the students of Cornish, a moment I will never forget.
Gallery goers check out students’ holographic works at the Cornish College of the Arts 2016 BFA show
Artsy at the Armory
Earlier this year we partnered with online art platform Artsy and Amsterdam-based Studio Drift to create a mixed reality art installation at The Armory Show in New York.  The project was called “Concrete Storm” and was our first collaboration in a commercial art context.  It blended physical structures with holograms, which changed perspective depending on where you stood within the exhibit, allowing visitors to experience art in an entirely new way. It was fascinating to watch the typically jaded New York art crowd’s expressions the first time they put the device on; lighting up as they walked through the concrete pillars and reaching out to touch something that wasn’t really there. Proof that mixed reality can make art more accessible and interactive when it comes alive, up close and personal.
Studio Drift founders Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta view their original HoloLens work, Concrete Drift (2017), at The Armory Show in New York
I’d like to thank all working artists for your commitment to your craft and work.  And for those of you who are deeply engaged with technology, thank you again.  Your work is so very important. As we get ready for the year ahead I am eager to see what comes next.
Lorraine

Windows 10 Tip: What’s new in Skype for Windows 10 PCs

Today, the new features we announced last month for the latest version of Skype for Windows 10 are beginning to roll out! Let’s take a look at what’s new.
Grab a cup of coffee and catch up on what you’ve missed by clicking the bell icon to access your notification panel.

From this central place, you’ll see reactions to your messages, @mentions in group conversations, or if someone quoted you. Jump to the conversation by clicking the message in the notification panel.
Looking for that link someone sent you a few weeks ago?

Quickly find shared content in the chat gallery. Just click Gallery to see media, links, and files. You can also now search for text in individual and group conversations.
If you’d like to get someone’s attention in a group chat, type the @ symbol followed by their name to send them a notification so that they can easily respond to the message.

Status updates are back, too, so you can let your colleagues, friends, and family know when you are and aren’t available to chat by changing your presence – or, set a mood message to share what’s going on.
 Share your mixed reality world 
 
If you have a compatible Windows 10 PC and a Windows Mixed Reality headset, you can now share your mixed reality world with Skype. As soon as you answer a Skype call via video, the view the other person sees will be your mixed reality world. They’ll see the game you’re playing, or the ruins you’re exploring in HoloTour, or the movie you’re watching in 3D. If you want to switch back to a traditional video call where the person sees you, you can go to settings in the Skype app and change the device to your PC’s camera.
To learn more about what’s new in Skype for Windows 10 PCs, visit the Skype Blog!

Making mixed reality: Meet the mind behind interactive film Free the Night

Created by Nicole McDonald and JauntVR, the full immersive app experience Free the Night is now available on Windows Mixed Reality. Read on to learn how its award-winning director made her childhood dream into a reality.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole McDonald, creator of Windows Mixed Reality immersive app experience Free the Night. But while some might bill the app as an interactive film, it would be an understatement to call Nicole simply a filmmaker.
In the 15 years since she began creating in multimedia, Nicole has worn many hats – from that of game designer, to NASA collaborator, to marketing campaign manager for the world’s biggest names, including American Idol, Cirque Du Soleil, and Toyota.
Now, Nicole is channeling her wealth of creative energy towards a new endeavor: the art of storytelling in mixed reality. The latest in a list of interactive films she’s created – many of which have been featured in festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, and SXSW – Free the Night is a collaboration between Nicole and cinematic VR producer Jaunt Studios. Designed exclusively for Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets, the experience enables audiences to place stars back into the sky and watch them glitter and swirl as they reclaim the night.

In celebration of Free the Night’s full release last month, I sat down with Nicole to learn more about the initial spark behind her creation.
Nicole McDonald, director and creator of interactive film Free the Night.
What inspired you to create Free the Night?
Nicole: In general, I am deeply inspired by my memories of being a child and childhood.
Free the Night was inspired by the most vivid of these: staring up into the night sky with my family. My father loved the sky and his enthusiasm and wonder of it pulled us all in. He would point out the constellations, and we’d discuss what could be out “there.” We grew up in a teeny tiny town and the sky was magnificent: there were thousands of stars, hints of the milky way, and we once saw a little bit of the aurora.
But sadly, one year, a huge mall was constructed nearby and it washed out almost everything. The amber glow of the parking lot made it impossible to view from our front lawn. It was heartbreaking. I didn’t understand how, or why, someone could do that.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when I was watching a fireworks display and thought how amazing it would be to have the same sky that my father introduced to me as the backdrop. I wanted to “blow” out all the lights out around me and… voilà, Free the Night was born.

You come from a background in advertising, filmmaking, and gaming. What led you to mixed reality as the medium for this story?
Nicole: I’ve always been interested in the marriage of narrative and technology, in understanding how innovative tools can enhance traditional storytelling. Mixed reality, to me, is placing the audience physically in the narrative, where they can participate and be moved emotionally by a story. It’s such a wonderful time of exploration, and we now have an audience that is curious, if not craving, these new media and experiences.
The setting of Free the Night, inspired by the creator’s hometown.
What can audiences expect from Free the Night when they put on their headsets?
Nicole: In Free the Night, we become giants in a mountainous landscape, tasked with liberating the stars into the night sky. We need to be able to get low enough to the ground to extinguish the manmade lights of the city and reach high enough to place the stars back into the sky. This requires us to interact with the entire 360-degree virtual space, a range of freedom only afforded in mixed reality. With Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets, our audience has the seamless tracking and full “six degrees of freedom” to actively engage in the narrative and explore all around them.
The story begins with the silhouette of a girl releasing lights back into the night sky.
You mentioned that Free the Night encourages us to use our full 360-degree space with “six degrees of freedom” (6DOF). Can you tell me more about 6DOF for those of us who may be unfamiliar with it, and why you chose to incorporate it in your design?
Nicole: 6DOF is the freedom of movement in 3D space. Six axes of movement allow us interact with objects that are as low as the ground and as high as we can lift our hands – left and right, back and forth… all around us.
With immersive mixed reality, there’s something so delightful about playing with scale and exploring a narrative in 3D space. It challenges us to have new perspective and see and play in ways we haven’t before.
Using motion controllers, audiences can swirl and play with the embers, freeing them into the night sky.
Free the Night has been tagged as both “cinematic” and “interactive” – two qualities that, in conjunction, set the experience apart from your typical film or game. What inspired you to experiment with mixing the two media?
Nicole: Honestly, it started when I was nine years old, in a basic computer coding class. We all worked on monochromatic monitors – the instructor explained that computers would someday show us more colors. Of course, he was describing monitors that would have RGB color profiles, but, at the time, I naively thought he meant that computers would allow us to see more colors than are in our current rainbow. My mind went wild. I made up stories of who and what lived in these unseen colors… What could they do that we couldn’t?
Ever since, I’ve been captivated by using technology as a creative tool. I always ask myself if my concepts allow my audience to see more “colors,” more worlds that we’d never see without the innovations of today. I love exploring how we might profit from experiencing and interacting with these kinds of stories and, most importantly, how can we add joy and wonder to our audience’s lives.
Once freed, the stars sparkle and burst in impressive displays.
Did you have an ideal audience in mind when you decided to create this experience?
Nicole: Ideally, Free the Night is for everyone. It’s a universal story for human beings, and because it’s for all, I especially wanted it to be an invitation to those who haven’t necessarily found their space, or connection with content, in mixed reality. People sometimes think that mixed reality is just for gaming or 360-degree passive experiences, but I want my projects to be all-embracing interactive experiences – experiences in which everyone is enticed to participate in, rather than be intimidated by, the medium.

What, for you, was most intimidating about creating Free the Night?
Nicole: One of the best and hardest parts of working on interactive experiences is the ice-cream headache you get when you have to find a solution but there is no playbook available. There are so many limitations and unknowns; as creators in this nascent space, we have to be a bit like MacGyver.
For Free the Night, it was how to create the magic of extinguishing light embers in mixed reality. Traditionally, you can only have a small amount of particles on screen at any given time in VR. But we needed thousands, which would have personality and be responsive when we interacted with them. My dev team, led by long-time collaborator KC Austin, figured out how to write a system with compute buffers that allowed the experience to sing.
More generally, the biggest challenge in creating with mixed reality is disrupting our preconceived notions of the medium. People are so often intimidated by the experience they’re about to enter, or nervous that they’re going to do something wrong. We’re so conditioned to approaching this medium as a game, rather than something more. My challenge is getting people to settle in the narrative instead of trying to get the highest score.
Future of StoryTelling attendees were among the first to demo the experience in October.
Free the Night recently debuted as a demo at the annual Future of StoryTelling Summit in New York. (Congratulations!) After months of working round-the-clock, what was it like finally seeing your demo premiere?
Nicole: It was pinch-worthy. We had had our heads down working for a few months, so to see the general public instilled with the awe for which I’d hoped was a dream come true.
My favorite response was that of a peer who tried Free the Night for the first time at the Summit. As she took off the headset, her eyes welled with tears. She told me how she had been transported to her own childhood and was filled with the same wonder I’d been way back when. It’s because of reactions like this that I can’t wait for everyone to experience the full project this month.
A woman reaches for the stars at The Future of StoryTelling demo.
If there’s one idea or impression you hope audiences take away from the full version of Free the Night, what would it be?
My hope is that people feel more connected to the world when their headsets comes off – that by experiencing Free the Night, they are enticed to look up a little bit more often – and that they truly understand that we are the magic and Earth is Eden.
One of many flower-shaped constellations awaiting audiences in the experience.
We’ve talked a lot about your journey in making this childhood dream into a reality. Looking back, what advice do you have for someone aspiring to create an immersive experience as aesthetic and emotionally inspiring as Free the Night?
Nicole: Oh, my… Well, first, for those who want to create in the space, it’s extremely difficult and thus can be extremely fortifying. Before you begin, ask yourself what you want your audience to feel or take away from the experience. Try to understand how the idea will blossom in the medium; take advantage of what you can do inside mixed reality that you can’t do in traditional linear 2D displays. Don’t be afraid of limitations; you can execute the essence of ideas in many ways. Always, always storyboard, create animatics, and test and play.
For those new to MR, please, don’t be intimidated. There is no right or wrong way to create an interactive experience. Get comfortable; look around at your environment before trying to rush through it. Approach everything with the wonderment you had as a child.
Free the Night promises 360 degrees of breathtaking scenes like the one above.
One last question, Nicole, before I let you go… Now that Free the Night is officially on Windows Mixed Reality, what’s next?
Nicole: Surfing and yoga… haha. But really, I’ll be working on the full experience for HUE, an interactive film about a man named Hue who has lost his ability to see color. In this touch-based tale, he is reactive to our presence and touch like a living breathing being. We help Hue find his “full spectrum” by aiding him to see the everyday joy around him and his own potential to be wonderful.
Concept art for Nicole’s next interactive film, “HUE.”
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story, Nicole, and congratulations, again, on creating such a breathtaking experience. I can’t wait to try “Free the Night” again this week!
Free the Night is available from the Microsoft Store. Download it for free on your PC and plug in your headset to experience the magic of Windows Mixed Reality… and stay tuned for our next installment of Making mixed reality.

Microsoft Announces Simplygon Cloud; Optimizes Mixed Reality Development

Earlier this year, we announced the acquisition of Simplygon, a leader in 3D model optimization based in southern Sweden. As we continue our journey to bring the benefits of mixed reality to everyone, Simplygon is an important accelerant that makes it easier, faster, and cheaper to develop in 3D.
Introducing Simplygon Cloud
Today, I am excited to announce the launch of Simplygon Cloud on Azure Marketplace. Simplygon reduces complexity in the creation and extensibility of 3D models through optimization. Simplygon supports GLTF, FBX and OBJ file types for ingestion; rendering engines including Unity 3D and Unreal Engine; and all major mixed reality platforms, including Windows Mixed Reality, iOS and Android. 
How it works
Historically, 3D asset optimization has taken days or weeks of manual effort and is one of the tasks that artists and developers dislike the most. With Simplygon, you can create 3D assets once – at full visual fidelity – and automatically optimize them to render smoothly on any platform – within minutes, saving valuable time and money.

As an example, the above left 3D model of a couch was built with 584,000 polygons. To render this content on a lower GPU device, Simplygon optimized this down to 5,000 polygons, which greatly reduces the file size, while maintaining the ideal visual fidelity for the intended device.
How To Get Started
Simplygon Cloud is now available in the Azure Marketplace. To get started, visit our Azure Marketplace home to learn how to deploy the Simplygon Cloud virtual machine and start optimizing your 3D assets. Please also visit our documentation for examples and more information on how to integrate this into your workflow today.
We look forward to sharing more in the months ahead. This is a very exciting time for everyone who is developing in the era of mixed reality!

Start shopping Microsoft Store’s Black Friday deals now!

You can also save on apps like Adobe Photoshop Elements 2018, PC games including Halo Wars 2, movies like Deadpool and Wonder Woman and more at Microsoft Store on your Xbox or Windows 10 device.
Keep reading for the full list of the hottest Black Friday deals from Microsoft Store and remember to check out our Cyber Monday deals starting Nov. 26 at 9 p.m. PT.
Surface

Save $329 on Surface Pro bundle
Get instant savings on Surface Pro (Intel Core i5/256GB SSD) and black Type Cover.
Save $229 on Surface Pro bundle
Bundle and save on Surface Pro (Intel Core i5/128GB SSD) and black Type Cover.
Free Harman Kardon Invoke
Buy a select Surface Laptop and get the new Harman Kardon Invoke speaker for free ($199 value) – Available through Monday, Nov. 27.
Xbox

Xbox One S only $189 + free game
Score an amazing deal on an Xbox One S 500GB console, plus get a select free game of choice and one month of Xbox Game Pass.
Save $50 on Xbox One S bundles + free game
Save $50 on Xbox One S 500GB and 1TB bundles plus get a select free game.
Windows 10 PCs
Save up to $300 off select Windows 10 PCs
Looking for a new PC? Save up to $300 this holiday when you purchase a new Windows 10 PC that lights up the recently released Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. The Fall Creators Update brings mixed reality and 3D to the masses, faster broadcasting for gaming, features to turn photos and videos into real memories, and much more.
Windows Mixed Reality

Save up to $100 on Windows Mixed Reality headsets
Grab instant savings on select Windows Mixed Reality headsets with motion controllers, starting at $299 – Available through Monday, Nov. 27.

Bundle and save up to $400
Get instant savings on select Windows Mixed Reality headsets and PC bundles.
Accessories
Up to $20 off Xbox controllers
Save instantly on select Xbox Wireless Controllers through Monday, Nov. 27.
Save $20 on Minecraft controller
Build, dig, and craft in style with the Xbox Wireless Controller – Minecraft Creeper.
Save $50 on Elite headset
Hear every pin drop with the Turtle Beach Elite 800x on-ear headset with noise-cancellation – Available through Monday, Nov. 27.
Digital
Up to 50% off games
Stock up on the hottest Xbox games this season like Halo Wars 2 and Super Lucky’s Tale.
Call of Duty for $49.99
Save $10 on Call of Duty: WWII.
Save $20 on Office 365 Home
Get Office 365 Home for $79.99 and get things done from virtually anywhere, on all your devices.
Microsoft Store
Don’t forget! Microsoft Store locations nationwide will offer the first Black Friday shoppers a chance to win an Xbox One X. Be in line before the store opens on Nov. 23, in select locations and on Nov. 24, in most locations for a chance to win.** Check your local Microsoft Store for more information.

Happy shopping!
Visit your local Microsoft Store, Microsoft.com or any of our retail partners for more details on availability and pricing.
Offers valid for a limited time, while supplies last. Not valid on prior orders or purchases; cannot be transferred or otherwise redeemed for cash or coupon code(s). May not be combinable with other offers. Refunds will take into account the discount. Price discount does not include taxes, shipping or other fees. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue offers at any time. Other exclusions and limits may apply. 
**No Purchase Necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S.+ DC, Puerto Rico, or Canada (excluding Quebec) who visit a Microsoft Retail Store beginning on November 23 or 24 (check your store’s Black Friday hours for opening times). One winner will be drawn 15 minutes after opening at each store. Must be present to win. For Official Rules, see a store associate.

5 reasons you’ll love Surface Book 2

Starting today, you can get your hands on the most powerful Surface ever, Surface Book 2. We built this Surface for people who need the performance and graphics processing power to work, create, and game from anywhere. Now anyone who needs desktop-class power, from designers, developers, and engineers to scientists, artists, and gamers can have the freedom and flexibility of a laptop and tablet. Whether you choose the 13-inch or the 15-inch (US only), here are 5 reasons to love the new Surface Book 2.
It’s really powerful – Surface Book 2 is the most powerful Surface ever. It has four times the processing power and more than five times the graphics performance of the original Surface Book. It has up to twice the total processing of similarly spec’d MacBook Pros1. With quad-core 8th Gen Intel Core processors, up to 16GB of RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 and 1060 discrete GPUs, Surface Book 2 has the power you’ll need for whatever you do.
It has amazing battery life – Surface Book 2 goes where you go and keeps up with up to 17 hours of battery life2 (or up to 5 hours on the detached tablet). That’s up to 70% longer than a MacBook Pro 13-inch or 15-inch. With the power slider in Windows 10 (click on the battery icon) you can optimize either for peak performance or longer battery life. And, if you don’t have your Surface power cord, you now have the option to charge via USB-C using a compatible charger.
It plays hard –With an optional NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5 graphics memory, you’re going to love gaming on Surface Book 2. Our team has been playing Gears of War 4 and Forza Motorsport 7 – both graphically intense games – at 1080p and 60 FPS and they look amazing on the PixelSense display. The 15-inch model even includes Xbox Wireless built-in so you can pair Xbox One Accessories and play wherever you want. Surface Book 2 is also ready for Windows Mixed Reality. Connect a compatible Windows Mixed Reality headset and controllers to experience the most immersive gaming and VR experiences with 100+ degrees view field and 90hz refresh rate.
It’s a creator’s dream – Whether you’re a game developer, digital artist, designer, 3D-modeller, AI developer, photographer, or video guru, Surface Book 2 is what you need to create the amazing. You’ll have all the power you’ll need to run full versions of the software you depend on, a beautiful PixelSense display and awesome keyboard and trackpad. Beyond these, Surface Book 2 lets you create and edit with the optional Surface Pen3, featuring 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt and on-screen use of the Surface Dial3 The ink experience even extends to Office 3653 , where we’ve done a ton of work as a company to make sure your work really comes to life.
It’s incredibly versatile – The original Surface Book made waves with its detachable screen, and these new devices continue to offer unmatched versatility. Use Surface Book 2 as a traditional laptop or disconnect the tablet to experience the freedom of the thinnest 8th Gen Intel Core i7 PC available. Turn the screen around and re-attach it for view mode, a great way to share ideas or watch movies at 30,000 feet. Close the device with the screen exposed and your Surface Book 2 becomes a powerful, portable Studio angled just right for drawing and using Dial. Surface Book 2 also includes a full array of ports – two full-size USB 3.1, USB-C, an SD card reader, Surface Connect ports in both the base and tablet and a 3.5mm headset jack.

Surface Book 2 is available today starting at $1,499.99 USD at Microsoft Store, Microsoft.com, and Best Buy in the US, and around the world at select retailers.
I encourage you to see and try one in person. I hope you love it as much as I do.
1Microsoft Test Lab 3DMark 11 Graphics and LuxMark 3.1 CPU+GPU score comparison, Surface Book 15-inch [Intel i7-8650U with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060] vs. MacBook Pro 15-inch [Intel i7-7567U with AMD Radeon Pro 560], and Surface Book 13” [Intel i7-8650U with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050] vs. MacBook Pro 13-inch [Intel i7-7567U], October 2017.2Up to 17 hours of video playback. Testing conducted by Microsoft in October 2017 using preproduction Intel Core i5, 256GB, 8 GB RAM device. Testing consisted of full battery discharge during video playback. All settings were default except: i-Fi was associated with a network and Auto-Brightness disabled. Battery life varies significantly with setting, usage, and other factors. 3Surface Pen, Surface Dial, and Office 365 sold separately.

Announcing the top Black Friday deals from Microsoft and our partners

It’s one of my favorite times of the year and this holiday, I’m looking forward to welcoming my sons home from college, enjoying time with my daughter, and watching a lot of football.
Of course, it’s also a great time to celebrate loved ones with incredible gifts and Microsoft has some great options – from the must-have Xbox One X or amazing value of the Xbox One S, to positively reviewed Surface devices, to cutting-edge technology like Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

With Black Friday just around the corner, Microsoft Store and our partners are offering some great deals on my favorite tech, there’s something great for everyone on your list. Here’s a sneak peek into the hottest deals you can enjoy starting next weekend through Cyber Monday at Microsoft Store and Microsoft.com. You can check out more deals here.
Save up to $329 on new Surface bundles

Described as a “killer device” and “near perfection” by top reviewers, the new Surface Pro is a beautiful ultra-light, versatile and powerful device. If you have a loved one looking for uncompromising mobility and productivity so they can create, study, work or play anywhere, the Surface Pro is the ideal gift. You can take advantage of our best deal ever for the new Surface Pro – $329 off the Surface Pro i5 256GB and $229 off the Surface Pro i5 128GB. Both Surface Pro options feature all-day battery life, a stunning PixelSense display, and a lighter-than-ever-feel, both bundled with the Black Type Cover. You can also add Office 365 Home for $79.99 and save 20%.
Save $199 with the purchase of Surface Laptop and the new Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker

From November 23 – 27, you can purchase Surface Laptop (either i5 256GB or i7) with the Harman Kardon Invoke voice-activated speaker and save $199.95. Surface Laptop blends portability and performance with impeccable design, and the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker delivers premium sound, the intelligence of Cortana, Skype calling, and more – all hands-free.

Cortana works across both devices, helping you get things done so you can focus on what matters. Invoke will also be available at a discounted price of $99 from November 23 – 27.*
Get Xbox One S at its lowest price ever, starting at just $189

From November 23 – 27, gamers can get incredible deals on a variety of Xbox One consoles, games, and accessories, including Xbox One S at its lowest price ever, starting at just $189. Xbox One S offers the best value in games and entertainment, with over 1,300 games including blockbusters, popular franchises, and more than 220 Xbox One exclusives. With Xbox One S, you can play with friends on Xbox Live – the fastest, most reliable gaming network – and enjoy built-in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and 4K video streaming.

You can also save $50 off Xbox One S 1TB and 500GB bundles, which include a console, game, and additional bonuses like Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. Blockbuster games like Forza Motorsport 7, Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2, and Forza Horizon 3 are each $20 off and you can save $20 on Xbox Wireless Controllers, $15 on Stereo Headsets, and $10 on 3-month or 6-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.
Save up to $100 on Windows Mixed Reality headsets

With Windows Mixed Reality, you can escape to the most immersive experiences – touring top travel destinations, getting inside the most exciting games, attending the most popular events, even traveling across time and space – right in your own home, with you at the center of everything.

Available for the first time this holiday, you can save up to $100 on Windows Mixed Reality Headsets from our partners Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung and savings up to $249 on PC bundles from Acer, Dell, and HP. Try them out and experience mixed reality at your local Microsoft Store.
Upgrade to a new Windows 10 PC with savings of up to $300 off
Looking for a new PC? Save up to $300 this holiday when you purchase a new Windows 10 PC that lights up the recently released Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. The Fall Creators Update brings mixed reality and 3D to the masses, faster broadcasting for gaming, features to turn photos and videos into real memories, and much more.
Additional Black Friday deals from our partners include:
Save up to $150 on the Acer Aspire 1 and Aspire 3 laptops starting November 24 at Acer.com.
Save up to $100 on ASUS Transformer Book Flip 2-in-1, TP200 at ASUS.com/US.
Save on PCs from Dell, like the Alienware 17 Laptop available for $1599.99, the Dell Inspiron 14 3000 for only $129.99, or the Dell Latitude 3580 for just $579. The deals start November 15 and roll into Black Friday at Dell.com/BlackFriday and Dell.com/sbblackfriday.
Save $230 on the HP Pavilion 15 x360, or $200 on the HP 15” Notebook.
Save on great Lenovo devices like the Yoga 720 for $729.99, the Legion Y520 for $749.99, and the Yoga 910 Star Wars Glass for only $999.99. Check out these and other great deals starting on November 20 on Lenovo’s website.
Save on Samsung devices this Black Friday with Galaxy Books starting at $529.99 November 17 – 27, and All-in-One PCs November 19 – 25 at Samsung.com and other retailers.
Visit Microsoft Store for great deals

I encourage you to visit Microsoft Store for your holiday shopping. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift at any price, picking up a purchase you made online, or just experiencing the best of Microsoft from Surface to Xbox to Windows Mixed Reality – Microsoft Store has you covered.
Check out free demonstrations of virtual reality and Windows Mixed Reality. Experience true 4K gaming on Xbox One X.
Encourage STEM with top products like Lego Boost ($149.95) or littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets Kit ($79.95), or Minecraft Super Plus Pack ($39.99).
Celebrate design with Marimekko patterned sleeves ($75) and skins ($39), or Surface Arc Mouse ($79.99).
Microsoft Stores nationwide will offer the first people in line before the doors open on November 24 a chance to win an Xbox One X.**
Get hands-on with the latest technology and join free, in-store activities in a fun, learning environment. Create holiday cards, learn how to paint, scan or play in 3D or build a Minecraft Holiday Village.
Happy shopping!
Yusuf
Visit your local Microsoft Store, Microsoft.com or any of our retail partners for more details on availability and pricing.
Offers valid for a limited time, while supplies last. Not valid on prior orders or purchases; cannot be transferred or otherwise redeemed for cash or coupon code(s). May not be combinable with other offers. Refunds will take into account the discount. Price discount does not include taxes, shipping or other fees. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue offers at any time. Other exclusions and limits may apply.
*Setup requires the Cortana app for Windows 10 PC or phone, Android or iPhone and signing in with a Microsoft Account (requires Android version 4.1.2 or higher, or iPhone 4 with iOS 8.0 or higher). Must accept Cortana Terms of Use. Works with select music services (paid subscriptions may be required). Works with select home automation providers. Must accept Skype terms of use. Skype credit required for calls to mobile phones and landlines. Visit microsoft.com/en-us/cortana for all product features and compatible services. Cortana experience may vary by device. Wi-fi required.
**No Purchase Necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S.+ DC, Puerto Rico, or Canada (excluding Quebec) who visit a Microsoft Retail Store beginning on November 23 or 24 (check your store’s Black Friday hours for opening times). One winner will be drawn 15 minutes after opening at each store. Must be present to win. For Official Rules, see a store associate.

Mixed Reality momentum continues in the Modern Workplace and Microsoft HoloLens expands to 29 new markets

Today, at Microsoft Future Decoded in London, over 15,000 IT and business decision makers came together to talk about current and emerging trends happening at the intersection of business and technology. I was thrilled to be there talking about our vision for mixed reality and the work we are doing to bring powerful new capabilities to the modern workplace.
We shared how technologies like Microsoft 365, Microsoft HoloLens, Windows Mixed Reality, and 3D are helping companies, Firstline Workers, and Information Workers become agents of change in the modern workplace and digital transformation.
In addition to outlining our vision for mixed reality in the modern workplace, we also announced that HoloLens is coming to 29 new markets in Europe.
Microsoft’s vision for Mixed Reality in the Modern Workplace
At Microsoft, we are on a mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Mixed reality has the potential to help customers and businesses across the globe do things that until now, have never been possible. Mixed reality experiences will help businesses and their employees complete crucial tasks faster, safer, more efficiently, and create new ways to connect to customers and partners.
As we think about how mixed reality will change the way we work, it’s important to acknowledge that the very nature of what it means to work is changing.
Just as the agricultural revolution led to rapid increases in agricultural productivity, or the industrial revolution ushered in entirely new manufacturing processes, the digital revolution has again redefined what it means to work.  “Work” is increasingly defined through human ingenuity, creative problem solving, and collaboration skills. This has created a demand for technology that will support these new ways of working.
The era of mixed reality will serve as a catalyst for innovations in the workplace and we expect Firstline Workers and Information Workers to benefit significantly from solutions that blend our physical and digital reality.
Firstline Workers are more than two billion people in roles that make them the first points of contact between a company and the world it serves. They are often the first to engage customers, the first to represent a company’s brand, and the first to see products and services in action. They form the backbone of many of the world’s largest industries, but they’ve been largely underserved by technology. Without them, the ambitions of many organizations could not be brought to life. Mixed reality is poised to help them work together, problem solve, and communicate in more immersive ways.
For Information Workers, mixed reality will enable collaboration and remote work both synchronously and asynchronously. They can interact more naturally with the digital world. With mixed reality workers can change the content, the people, or even the location of a meeting, in a matter of seconds. Mixed reality delivers interfaces that help workers act upon data generated from instrumented/intelligence devices, and connect seamlessly with others across physical space.
Here is a peek into what mixed reality in the modern workplace makes possible.

HoloLens coming to 29 new European markets
Since our launch in 2016 it has been inspiring to see how customers and partners around the world are using HoloLens to transform their business. HoloLens is being used every day to help people collaborate, communicate, create, and learn.
Here are a few of the industry leaders who are innovating with mixed reality.
Ford – who are reinventing the way they do product design by blending 3D holograms digitally with both clay models and physical production vehicles.
thyssenkrupp – who have found ways to dramatically decrease operational costs with remote assist and training.
Stryker – who has set out to improve the process for designing operating rooms for hospitals and surgery centers.
To address growing demand for mixed reality solutions around the world, we are thrilled to announce that HoloLens will be coming to 29 new markets, bringing the total number of HoloLens markets to 39.
We are also working to bring some of the most asked for software updates for HoloLens to our existing customers. We are committed to delivering an update to existing customers sometime early next year.
Here is a quick and easy way to see all the markets where HoloLens is available. You can learn more about HoloLens availability in your country here.

Innovation in the modern workplace is happening now
Work today has evolved from execution of routine tasks to creative problem solving. The workplace is also changing in dramatic and fundamental ways. From open and integrated physical and digital workspaces, to personalized experiences that flow across devices, teams are more mobile and globally-distributed than ever.
I am passionate about mixed reality in the modern workplace and how it helps real people solve real problems with real solutions. Some of the ways Firstline and Information Workers are using mixed reality to improve how they get work done include:
Remote Assist – Collaborating with a remote expert to accomplish real tasks, in real spaces, in real-time.
Training – Creating customized first-person perspective training manuals and step-by-step instructions on new products, processes, and equipment.
Design – Being able to plan and layout space, collaborate with others, and walk through designs in the real world without costly physical build outs.
3D in Office – Collaborating with easy 3D content integration. This is the same 3D content that we will see bridge from PC screens to full mixed reality experiences.
Mixed Reality Meetings – Team members are looking to be able to join others in real-time or asynchronously, bring in 2D and 3D content, with flexibility to change the location at any time.
Mixed Reality Data & Analytics – Information workers are gaining access to content in a heads-up, hands-free way, that is contextually and spatially relevant.
We have also worked to ensure that our mixed reality solutions meet important environmental and safety standards.
HoloLens passes basic impact tests for protective eyewear standards in North America and Europe. It has been tested and found to conform to the basic impact protection requirements of ANSI Z87.1, CSA Z94.3 and EN 166, the most common protective glass certification standards.
HoloLens has been tested and rated IP50, able to perform as dust protected, a very important scenario for many Firstline Workers.
And for head protection, we’re happy to announce a HoloLens hard hat accessory is in production and will be available for purchase early next year.
Our customers love existing Skype functionality on HoloLens; however, there are a couple of improvements they’ve been asking for. I’m excited to share that in first quarter of next year we are shipping an additional holographic remote instruction capability built on Microsoft Teams and Azure Active Directory. Our customers will now be able to work more seamlessly within their existing IT infrastructure.
Join the Era of Mixed Reality
There is so much opportunity in front of us and so many ways to join us on our mixed reality journey.
The Commercial Suite and the Development Edition for HoloLens can be purchased online through the Microsoft Store. Check the online store in your region.
With 3D in Windows 10, everyone can experience and create amazing things in a new dimension. With PC or tablet running the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, you have the most complete collection of 3D tools and resources available.
For developers looking to build immersive experiences for Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens, we have numerous developer resources available.
If you are looking for someone to help you develop mixed reality solutions, check out the Mixed Reality Partner Program. This is an integrated program focused on enabling and supporting digital agencies, systems integrators, and solution providers who are committed to helping others build in mixed reality.
To everyone who has been with us on our journey to date, thank you! For those of you joining now, we can’t wait to meet you. We are looking forward to what comes next.
Talk soon,
Lorraine

Mixed Reality Capture Studios now open

Earlier this month we talked about Microsoft’s vision for mixed reality and demonstrated Windows Mixed Reality experiences available this holiday. Our backdrop that day was the Microsoft Reactor in San Francisco, a community hub for creators and developers to come together, learn, collaborate, and help fuel the era of mixed reality.
I am excited to announce the official launch of the Microsoft Reactor in San Francisco and the opening of Mixed Reality Capture Studios and the San Francisco Mixed Reality Academy.
Create pioneering mixed reality experiences
We are at the threshold of the next revolution in computing. Microsoft is passionately committed to mixed reality. The possibilities are limitless, and the future will unfold with the energy, ingenuity, and passion of the community. Together, we are on a once in a lifetime journey.
To help fuel this opportunity, we are expanding our investment in technologies that enable the broader ecosystem to create for mixed reality worldwide. Our goal is to reach and support partners, creative agencies, studios, application developers, and others to help them create the most immersive mixed reality content possible.
The Microsoft Reactor in San Francisco, located at 680 Folsom in SOMA, will serve as the flagship location for two very important initiatives – Mixed Reality Capture Studio and our Mixed Reality Academy. We want to help MR experts become even more expert. We want to bring together the vibrant and unique perspective of our Bay Area developers. We want to help creators invent cutting-edge experiences that dazzle us in imaginative new ways.
Mixed Reality Capture Studios open to empower new forms of creativity
At our Mixed Reality Capture Studio in Redmond, we’ve captured thousands of performances over the past seven years, from all types of creators — musicians, athletes, actors, educators, dancers, and even animals. A few notable ones include Buzz Aldrin, George Takei, Reggie Watts, and Max Frost.
Today, we announced the opening of our Mixed Reality Capture Studio in San Francisco. These studios enable customers to create holograms that can be used for mixed reality experiences from 2D screens to fully immersive VR. Our goal is to make high-quality holographic captures accessible for mixed reality creators everywhere.
In addition, we’re expanding our studios globally with our first licensed studio opening in London with our partners Hammerhead and Digital Catapult, forming Dimension. We expect to license studios in other major markets worldwide. More details about the Mixed Reality Capture Studios can be found here.

San Francisco Mixed Reality Academy offers developers the tools they need to create in mixed reality
Since opening the Mixed Reality Academy in Redmond two years ago, we have seen the transformational impact a mixed reality learning environment can have. We are now bringing the popular courses we offer in Redmond to San Francisco based mixed reality developers.
The San Francisco Mixed Reality Academy will offer a range of on-site courses and workshops, including:
Discovery Program: Where you begin your journey. Introduction to building mixed reality experiences, and how to further engage with the Mixed Reality Academy.
Expert Program: A multi-week course that kick-starts the ability for partners to join our Mixed Reality Partner Program (MRPP). Find out more about the MRPP here.
Workshops: Tailored courses where developers can learn and get expert advice from our team on topics such as adding spectator view to their app, improving performance, adding shared experience, or supporting the latest hardware.
Hackathons: We look forward to offering a robust calendar of hacking and porting events.
You can learn more about Mixed Reality Academy offerings here.
This truly is an exciting time for us and everyone who is on the mixed reality journey with us. We look forward to sharing more and seeing what everyone creates in the months ahead.
Liz