Microsoft just keeps on winning. A little over a year ago, Microsoft won a cloud contract from Pentagon reportedly worth more than $10 billion, and now it has won yet another contract with the U.S government.
This time around, Microsoft has landed a contract with the United States Army. The recent deal will have them delivering more than 120,000 devices based on the Microsoft HoloLens AR headset over the course of 10 years. The deal is believed to be worth as much as $22 billion.
Microsoft Land Second Multibillion-Dollar Contract
Microsoft's multibillion-dollar deal with the U.S Army was first unveiled three years ago. However, as early as just last year, the Senate considered freezing as much as half of the said contract. Now, it's going to proceed as planned.
As per the agreement, the initial run will be for five years with another five-year option available for a total of ten years. The deal will have one of the world's premier software makers manufacturing augmented-reality devices based on their HoloLens augmented reality headset for the United States Army.
Microsoft's HoloLens AR headset was first introduced years ago. It currently has a market price of $3,500. The headset affords users the ability to see overlaid holograms over actual environments that they can actually interact with using voice gestures as well as their hands.
The earlier prototypes that Microsoft made for the United States Army are known as Integrated Visual Augmented System or IVAS. It reportedly had a system that helped users know where to aim using their weapons. It also had a map, a compass display, and thermal imaging that makes seeing in pitch black possible.
Together, the said features, along with others expected to come in the future, will allow the soldiers to fight, rehearse, and train.
As for Microsoft, they're now a more prominent supplier of the U.S Military. As we've already mentioned, Microsoft had already secured a billion-dollar contract with the Pentagon in 2019. This new contract will make Microsoft the provider of cloud services to the United States Defense Department.
Microsoft Exploring Other Avenues With AR Technology
The augmented reality technology market is full of possibilities. However, most companies are developing headsets for consumer use and gaming.
One of the most prominent examples of this is Niantic Labs, who recently teased their AR glasses. But, unlike others, Microsoft seems focused on an entirely different thing. Specifically, on selling their AR technology to other businesses. Apparently, Microsoft intends to sell their technology to those willing to pay a premium for customized work-placed focused versions.
In recent years, Microsoft has cut deals with several companies for its Hololens. This includes Japan Airlines, which uses the AR headset to train pilots. Swiss-based Tetra Pak International also uses the Hololens to help representatives provide remote repair work.
Microsoft's latest deal with the United States Army is just another step in the same direction. The only difference this time is that it's a giant leap, perhaps their biggest yet.
Naturally, the contract has received its fair share of backlash. In particular, Microsoft employees voiced their concern in regards to the HoloLens contract in an open letter. In it, they demanded that Microsoft listen to how they use their work as they "did not sign up to develop weapons".
With that said, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seems fully invested in their recent deal with the United States army. In turn, the United States Army has suggested that the use of augmented reality technology can help save lives. They explained that such headsets can help provide soldiers with useful tactical information. This then allows them to target enemies more efficiently and safely without putting the lives of civilians in danger.