Microsoft has expanded and rebranded the HoloLens Agency Readiness Program. Much like the shift from Windows Holographic to Windows Mixed Reality, the new Mixed Reality Partner Program takes the focus off Microsoft's HoloLens hardware and puts it on Windows 10 as an XR platform. Companies will still get access to the HoloLens, of course, but they'll do so by participating in the broader Windows Mixed Reality ecosystem.
Many enthusiasts probably view XR from a consumer's perspective. Games, movies, and other media currently dominate the discussion about VR and AR in most circles. But that's not where Microsoft's ambition ends. It wants Windows Mixed Reality to be the computing platform of the future, not an expensive toy. The Mixed Reality Partner Program is supposed to help companies get a glimpse at--and shape--Microsoft's vision for XR.
Microsoft wants people to do work in XR. That's why it partnered with Trimble and the Construction Information Technology Lab at the University of Cambridge on a construction-focused HoloLens tool. It's why the company expanded the HoloLens Agency Readiness Program to companies focused on helping enterprise businesses adopt XR. And now, it's why that program has been replaced by the Mixed Reality Partner Program.
Companies have to undergo "a multi-week readiness program that consists of both in-depth technical training on mixed reality solutions and sales and marketing readiness" to join the Mixed Reality Partner Program. Partners will receive "direct access to Microsoft engineering support and mentorship, as well as marketing and sales assistance," and will also "participate in joint business planning with the Mixed Reality extended team."
Businesses that have already worked on XR might be able to skip some of the Mixed Reality Partner Program's on-boarding. Microsoft said that those "who already have deep expertise in designing and deploying mixed reality solutions" will be able to take a "fast track and immediately work with the Microsoft team on plans to engage customer accounts." The company didn't say how exactly it qualifies "deep expertise" in this nascent field, though.
Unsurprisingly, members of the HoloLens Agency Readiness Program will be grandfathered into the Mixed Reality Partner Program. Other companies can express their interest in the program on Microsoft's website, and the company encouraged prospective partners to attend a July 12 breakout session at Microsoft Inspire.