Microsoft has enlisted the likes of Volvo, Lowes, Japan Airlines and ThyssenKrupp to test its HoloLens augmented reality (AR) headset, underscoring the software giant\u2019s early success in wooing enterprises. Given Microsoft's prowess in fostering dominant platforms such as Windows and Office and its global reach you could argue that the software giant has the best shot at establishing the enterprise standard in AR.\nGartner analyst Brian Blau, who tracks the AR\/VR market, is taking a cautious view. He says that while Microsoft\u2019s clout in business software give it an advantage it\u2019s too early to proclaim a leader. Microsoft\u2019s AR device, currently available to developers and businesses, costs $3,000, has some technical limitations and faces competition from a number of tech heavyweights that are building wearable AR and virtual reality ecosystems.\n \nVolvo sees a day when consumers will use Microsoft HoloLens to customize their cars in a virtual showroom.\n\nHoloLens, which vies with Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, Sony Playstation VR and dozens of others in the high-stakes market for immersive headsets, uses cameras, air gestures, gaze, voice, and sound to navigate holograms that adapt to the physical surroundings, enabling people to access information and complete tasks hands-free.\n \nThyssenkrupp technicians access Skype on HoloLens to call subject matter experts and share holographic instructions.\n\nHoloLens lures many business takers\nAttracted by the opportunity to enable employees to access information and complete tasks hands-free, several companies are building HoloLens applications. A handful include the following:\n\nThyssenkrupp elevator service technicians use HoloLens to triage service requests ahead of maintenance visits and getting hands-free remote guidance when on site. Technicians access Skype on HoloLens to call subject matter experts and share holographic instructions In trials, Thyssenkrupp says HoloLens has reduced the average length of it service calls by four times.\nVolvo Cars envisions consumers using HoloLens to customize their cars in a virtual showroom. \u201cImagine using mixed reality to choose the type of car you want \u2013 to explore the colors, rims, or get a better understanding of the features, services and options available,\u201d says Bj\u00f6rn Annwall, Volvo\u2019s senior vice president of marketing, sales and service. He says that HoloLens could open up new sales channels by allowing dealers to take a car configurator to pop-up stores or malls.\nJapan Airlines (JAL) has developed two proof-of-concept programs to train engine mechanics and flight crew trainees. Thanks to the 3D capabilities in HoloLens mechanics \u201ccan study and be trained just as if they were working on the actual engine or cockpit,\u201d placing their hands on virtual engines and parts, says Koji Hayamizu, senior director of the planning group for JAL\u2019s products and service administration department. Using HoloLens, flight crew trainees access a detailed hologram that will display cockpit devices and switches that they can operate themselves, with visual and voice guidance.\nLowe\u2019s customers are using HoloLensto view a holographic representation of a new kitchen and customize design options for kitchen cabinetry, countertops, appliances and other home features. They may also share their designs online. \u201cA miniature hologram kitchen allows for a bird\u2019s eye perspective of the kitchen,\u201d says Microsoft\u2019s Erickson. In-store designers and friends can view what the customer is seeing and changing in real time through a hand-held Surface tablet.\nMicrosoft also is working with\u00a0AECOM and Trimble Navigation\u00a0to allow architects and engineers to view building construction and engineering schemas in 3D. AECOM says engineers and designers in London, Hong Kong and Denver, are exploring 3D buildings as if they were physical models on a table.\n\nHealthy skepticism abounds\nSuch commercial scenarios underscore why Microsoft is confident in its ability to make HoloLens the VR standard for commercial industry. And the currently modest market for AR\/VR devices is set to boom. Forrester Research estimates that 52million units of VR head-mounted displays will be used by enterprises and by consumers use in the U.S. by 2020.\n \nAECOM engineers and designers in London, Hong Kong and Denver are exploring 3D buildings as if they were physical models.\n\nBut analysts aren\u2019t ready to proclaim HoloLens as the go-to device for enterprises.\nForrester analyst J.P. Gownder says that while HoloLens is an important device, it has several limitations, including its $3,000 price tag. It\u2019s also heavy \u2013 you won\u2019t want to wear it for more than two hours. It also has a narrow field of view and can\u2019t be used outside in bright light.\nHowever, Gownder expects Windows Holographic will eventually lead to new form factors. \u201cI would be looking to new Windows Holographic devices from Microsoft's partners that solve those problems,\u201d Gownder says.\nGartner\u2019s Blau says a new collaboration between Microsoft and Intel raises questions about HoloLens\u2019 future. Last month, Intel unveiled Project Alloy, the chipmaker\u2019s bid to create an all-in-one VR display that is similar to HoloLens. Microsoft agreed to optimize Windows content and experiences in Intel\u2019s Alloy device and the two companies will help foster a range of AR\/VR devices for business and consumer markets.\n\u201cWe don\u2019t know if that is the future of HoloLens, if HoloLens gets merged into whatever Project Alloy is,\u201d Blau says. Microsoft is expected to unveil more details about its collaboration with Intel, as well as OEM partnerships, at WinHEC in December.\nWhat Blau is certain of is that AR\/VR leaders will include global ecosystem vendors, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Samsung, which have cultivated platforms in mobile, cloud, social and other key technology categories. \u201cThe same [ecosystem phenomenon] is going to happen in immersive technology,\u201d Blau says.\nMicrosoft, which, added mobile device management, Azure Active Directory support, BitLocker data encryption and VPN remote access, to make HoloLens more appealing to enterprises, remains confident in its position.\n\u201cHoloLens is on a multi-year journey and we are currently focused on developers and enterprise scenarios,\u201d Scott Erickson, general manager of Microsoft HoloLens, tells CIO.com via email.