Remember the good old days of counting processor frequencies and, well, blue screens? Looks like the Wintel club is back with the two companies--Microsoft and Intel--announcing that they will collaborate on a "mixed-reality platform" for Windows 10.

That effort supported by new depth-sensing cameras from Intel injected excitement into the keynote at the annual Intel Developer Forum here, but fell short of defining a new Wintel platform of the magnitude of the declining PC.

Project Alloy

Intel will contribute a wireless head-mounted display to the effort, making its hardware and software freely available late next year. Project Alloy uses Intel’s RealSense 3D cameras to enable users to move with six degrees of freedom and use their hands to control virtual spaces.

In a demo of Alloy, a user walked among virtual rooms. Typical of the state of such systems, the user had difficulty at one point pushing a large virtual button with hands that often appeared pixelated. However, later he was able to use his finger as a tool to shape a virtual object turning on a virtual lathe.

At an event in Shenzhen in December, Microsoft will release the specification for the Win 10 mixed-reality platform. Updates to the operating system next year will let all Windows 10 PCs run what it calls holographic applications for its HoloLens headset.

Microsoft and Intel share a common vision of mixed virtual and augmented reality systems as a key direction for client computing, said Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich.

Brian Krzanich Krzanich: Intel will make the Project Alloy headset available as open source next year. (Image: EE Times)

“We think this is going to be big because it’s so different than anything that’s out there today,” said Krzanich, noting the Intel headset doesn’t require a room to be outfitted with sensors.

“Since the introduction of the PC nothing has so fundamentally redefined computing. VR has gone mainstream in a fundamental shift in how we work play and communicate,” he said.

 
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