Microsoft has partnered up with Pearson to "offer curriculum in health, commerce, history, and STEM, on all Windows Mixed Reality devices" for secondary and university-level students by the 2018 school year. (It's not clear if the company means the 2017-2018 or 2018-2019 school year.)
The arrangement--like all good partnerships--could prove mutually beneficial. Microsoft gets to introduce Windows Mixed Reality to students, who might just be the most captive market on the planet, and Pearson can diversify its education-focused offerings to recover from recent financial woes. And, of course, the idea is that MR will allow students to learn in ways that fuddy-duddy technologies like "books" simply couldn't offer.
For anyone who doesn't remember, Windows Mixed Reality is the new name for the technology formerly known as Windows Holographic. In March, a spokesperson told us that Microsoft rebranded the tech to "be more encompassing of the company’s broader vision for the platform." That vision revolves around a platform many HMD makers can use, so making it clear that it's a way to offer MR on top of Windows is probably wise.
Microsoft also teased a new Windows 10 feature called View Mixed Reality. The company said in its blog post that this feature "allows you to see 3D content through your screen into the real world as mixed reality" with a 'simple RGB camera." View Mixed Reality is set to come to Windows 10 some time this Fall. Other details about the feature, such as its minimum hardware and operating system requirements, have not yet been revealed.
Both announcements further Microsoft's goal of making XR mainstream. The company's developing its own HoloLens HMD (and proprietary hardware) to showcase its vision for XR hardware, working with Intel to define hardware specs for mainstream HMDs, and preparing Windows 10 for XR hardware and software to make sure it's ready for what many have called the future of computing. Partnering with one of the world's biggest education publishers and making it easier to experience MR without dedicated hardware could help familiarize people with XR on their own terms.