Once getting the HoloLens running, it’s natural to look for what is already installed and head to the Windows Store to find apps and games. With the release of the HoloLens Development Kit, there are 6 initial apps/games designed specifically for the HoloLens. When you log into the store with a Microsoft Account, there is a Made for HoloLens section at the top to help you quickly find relevant apps and games.

The initial Windows Store list of HoloLens targeted apps and games include

  • HoloStudio
  • Skype
  • RoboRaid (formerly Project X-Ray)
  • Young Conker
  • Fragments
  • 3D Viewer Beta

The apps and games already installed include

  • Microsoft Edge
  • Cortana
  • Holograms
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Windows Store
  • Settings and Configuration Options

It should be made clear that any existing Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app or game will run on the HoloLens, but it will be in 2D.

The HoloLens is packed with a bunch of hardware. At the core of it is an unreleased Intel Atom chip. Microsoft says it contains a CPU, GPU and HPU (holographic processing unit). Let’s look at the hardware controls that are visible from the outside.

HoloLens adjustable gear HoloLens Inner Band tilted

At the center of the first picture above, there is a circular gear on the inside band. The inside band is the main part of the HoloLens that rests on your head. It is also were the majority of the weight is felt, albeit a very lightweight device. Some of the Microsoft HoloLens team members have recommended putting the front end of the inner band at about the hairline to have the most comfortable wear. This gear expands and contracts the inner band to fit around a head.

HoloLens upside down HoloLens Speaker Closeup

The red pieces on the bottom of the HoloLens are the spatial speakers. In the close up picture, you can see it’s an elongated piece. This contains a bunch of smaller speakers to help with the spatial perception.

HoloLens Lens

Here is a close up from the bottom of the HoloLens. Worth looking at is the layers of the inside lens.

HoloLens Brightness Controls HoloLens Sound Controls

On the top side, roughly over the ears, there are controls for Brightness on one side and Volume on the other side. They are plus and minus type of buttons.

HoloLens adjustable band for glasses

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether someone can wear their classes. The HoloLens definitely supports glasses. In the picture above, on the inside band behind the speakers, you can see an open slot. That is for sliding the outside band in relation to the inside band. This allows for extending the outside band either closer or farther away from a face. The only glass wearer that I’ve talked to that experienced trouble was with heavy bifocals. That person had success after going through the HoloLens configuration without her glasses.

HoloLens power button

On the back of the outer band, there is a button for the power, along with a 5 light power indicator. The button is a long-press type to avoid accidental power-offs. On the bottom of the HoloLens in the same area is the micro-USB port for charging.

HoloLens Clicker

Finally, we look at the clicker. The clicker has a micro-USB port for charging, which is the same as the HoloLens. The strap is elastic and is best to wrap around your middle or ring finger. There is a bluetooth pairing button on the underside of the clicker that is small enough to require a pencil or pen tip sized object to start the pairing. The Clicker can work as a replacement for the common AirTap gesture, which is very nice in development scenarios.

As part of Wave 1 with the HoloLens Development Kits, I thought it might be interesting to see what the shipment contains. It’s worth noting that the shipment requires signature, so the box won’t be sitting on your doorstep unattended.

The packaging and materials for shipment are first rate.

hololens-unboxing-IMG_0687 HoloLens Box Unopened hololens-unboxing-IMG_0696

On to opening the main package already! Microsoft provided a great carrying case for the HoloLens. After all, it won’t be easy to get a replacement for some time.

hololens main package opened hololens main package under the case hololens case open

The HoloLens fits snugly into the case making it secure for transport. The center of the case is used for storing the accessories. Besides the main package, there is a smaller package containing the HoloLens Clicker. The clicker is used as a bluetooth paired device to send signals to the HoloLens instead of using your finger for the AirTap gesture.

hololens-unboxing-IMG_0704 HoloLens Accessories hololens clicker box unopened

Looking more closely at the HoloLens accessories, there is a power adapter that is a standard micro-USB to USB cable with wall adapter. There is a cleaning cloth for the lens, an optional head strap and a replacement nose piece. In my previous experiences with the HoloLens, I haven’t found a need for the optional head strap.

HoloLens removed from case

Getting to see the actual HoloLens out of the case! The lightweight, wireless, solidly constructed device is an amazing piece of revolutionary technology.

My first exposure to HoloLens was at Microsoft BUILD 2015. I was lucky enough to get hands on and walk through the architecture demo. One of my colleagues was able to do the X-Wing demo, which sounded great, but I can’t find a video of it. During the Build keynote, Microsoft also showcased some medical uses and of course, gaming.

Over the next year, I was fortunate to get hands on a few more times, for example when the HoloLens Road Show came to Chicago. The demo was called Project X-Ray, a game that had robots coming out of the walls and shooting at you. X-Ray was the first time I was surprised at how accurate the spatial sound worked. The game is now called RoboRaid, is available from the Windows Store, and is a great first exposure to the HoloLens. Another great hands on experience came at the Microsoft Campus during the Microsoft MVP Summit. We got to see where the magic happens and mess around with some in-development apps.


At Microsoft BUILD 2016, Microsoft announced multiple user support, meaning that more than one person can view the same holographic scene in a shared experience. This is accomplished using a server over WiFi. Microsoft was gracious enough to provide the source code to all of the HoloLens Academy attendees. Here’s a short video of my HoloLens Academy.

I was picked to be part of Wave 1 of HoloLens development kit shipments and I certainly took advantage of that purchasing 2 of them. I’ll be posting about my experiences with the HoloLens as my journey continues!

As a consultant and Microsoft Client Development MVP, I get asked about the future of the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). They ask, “Is WPF Dead?” Let us look at some reasons why people might be thinking that. In no particular order:

Here is some insight into why it is not dead.

For those businesses wondering if they should use WPF for the line-of-business (LOB) apps, WPF is a perfectly good technology. I can’t predict the larger scale question of, “What is the future direction of client technologies?” I do know that WPF is not dead (it’s actively being worked on) and mobile is definitely still growing. I see use cases for apps in Windows Store, Windows Phone, WPF, iOS, Android and so on. It comes down to how much business value you get out of making any app and how it reaches your end users and/or customers.

Can Windows Store apps be LOB apps? Certainly! I’ve personally worked on several. I think in order to use WinRT for LOB apps, a bit of a mental shift in design is needed. It may also mean splitting your “enterprise app” into several apps. There are certain cases where WPF is more well suited because of its larger feature set, but don’t write off WinRT as a solution just because it’s a LOB app. Each app should be discussed for the business value. The technology used should help you achieve that value.

Please note that identifying as a Windows Store, WPF, Windows Phone or Silverlight developer is okay, but I feel a developer should really identify as knowing XAML, not one of those specific platforms. XAML is a common language across all of them and your skills port between those platforms. If you’re stressing out about these various platforms, shifting your outlook may help.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have the honor of speaking at VSLive this December. I would like to give a little more background and detail about the one of the sessions: Going from Silverlight or WPF to Windows 8 Apps.

Over the past year I have had many discussions about the development options for WinRT, mostly focused on XAML/C# and HTML/JS. There has been concern about which stack developers should focus their skills, but I get the impression that it’s not a battle. If you already know XAML by either working in Silverlight, WPF or Windows Phone, you should heavily consider continuing to use XAML. With that being said, use the best tool for the job and don’t make it a religious war! I have also heard concerns about the apparent shift from Silverlight, but it is just a change in run-time. The technologies used to write Silverlight applications, XAML and C#, are still a major focus and will be for a long time.

That leaves many Silverlight and WPF developers looking to use their XAML and C# skills to make Windows 8 Store apps. I’m going to discuss this exact process, what to expect and provide my personal experience during my VSLive session. Spoiler alert: Your existing skills port nicely! I’ll dig into the async shift, new user experience features in Windows 8 and what it’s like to actually port an application. There are considerations like navigation, controls, app model, designing for touch, animations, transitions, visual states, file & storage APIs, and validation. None of those are deal breakers though. My process of getting into XAML was with WPF first, then Silverlight, then Silverlight for Windows Phone and now Windows 8 Store apps. Each step meant a different run-time and various platform adjustments. As anyone with time in our industry realizes, things change rapidly. This is just the next step in our learning process and I happen to be thoroughly enjoying creating Windows 8 Store apps.

If you’re interested in coming to my session and want to save $300 on @VSLive Orlando? Register before the Early Bird deadline on 11/7: http://bit.ly/VOSPK17Reg

I have the pleasure of speaking at the Chippewa Valley Code Camp 2012 on November 3, 2012.

How HTML Makes YOU a Windows 8 App Dev Already!

Are you a web developer? Your toolset makes you a Windows 8 app developer because HTML5 is now a first class citizen for making WinRT apps. Using HTML5 along with JavaScript and CSS3, Microsoft has enabled web developers from all platforms the ability to start app dev with a very low learning curve. Come see what that learning curve looks like, as Greg discusses what WinJS is and how to use it. You will learn about the basics of Windows Store App patterns, navigation, async, and operating system integration.

Find more information at http://chippewavalleycodecamp.com/

I have the honor of speaking at VSLive Orlando from December 12-14th. I get to speak on two topics, which are

Going from Silverlight or WPF to Metro

So you learned Silverlight and WPF, but now Metro is the scene. Fear not! Those XAML and C# skills are extremely useful. Let Greg walk you through some of the changes when moving to Metro/XAML. Come see what additional considerations are needed for creating a Metro application. You know you’re curious to see if you can hit the ground running, so come see if that is indeed the case!

You will learn:
• What the breaking changes are from Silverlight and WPF to Metro/XAML.
• If your previous skills will pay off.
• What additional considerations need to be handled for Metro applications

Using Azure with Windows Phone and Windows 8!

With phones, tablets and other devices exploding in market share, it’s important to know what technologies and tools will help you develop better applications. These devices are often short on processing power and storage, which is where Azure can really help out. Come see what it’s like to use Azure with Windows Phone and Windows 8, including examples with push notifications, storage and authentication for both platforms and a Metro application using the Azure Service Bus.

You will learn:
• How to use Azure notifications with Windows 8 and Windows Phone
• How to use Azure storage with Windows 8 and Windows Phone
• How Metro applications can benefit from the Azure Service Bus

To get all of the information and register, please visit  http://bit.ly/VOSPK17

I hope to see you there!

On October 10th, 2012 I’ll be presenting at the Fox Valley .NET Users Group. I hope to see you there and have some great discussions.

Developing Windows 8 Store Apps (formerly Metro Apps)

Getting started with a new technology can sometimes have its hurdles. Greg will help eliminate those obstacles, whether you’re interested in the HTML/JS side or the XAML/C# side, come see what it means to develop Windows 8 Store Apps (formerly Metro Apps). He will discuss the tools, changes, new features and how your existing tool set carries over into this new platform. There will be plenty of demos and resources, so don’t miss out!

I had the pleasure of discussing Windows 8 Store app development with Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin on their podcast, TheTabletShow. Yes, they are the .NET Rocks guys too! Please have a listen and I would love to continue the discussion with any of you.

TheTabletShow Episode 50 – Greg Levenhagen Builds Contracts in Windows 8