Microsoft is back in the augmented-reality game, with the launch of both its HoloLens 2 headset and its Azure Kinect camera. Lighter and more powerful than its predecessor, HoloLens 2 is not only a standalone device but can be linked to a set of Azure services that take mixed reality (Microsoft’s term for augmented reality, or AR), into the public cloud.

Azure’s first tranche of services are intended for use with any platform, going well beyond Microsoft’s own tools. Even with a $1,500 price reduction over the original HoloLens, at $3,500 HoloLens 2 isn’t going to be a device that you hand out to every maintenance worker or to everyone taking a training class. With AR-ready devices in pockets and virtual-reality (VR) capabilities on desks, all your users can be part of an experience without the cost of headsets.

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