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Forget VR, Microsoft is all about 3D and mixed reality

The term "mixed reality" may not be as common as virtual reality or augmented reality, but Microsoft is hoping that will change.

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Get ready for more augmented reality, or the idea of that 3D objects float in your view thanks to a special set of eyewear.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There'll be a lot more virtual objects hovering around you soon, if Microsoft gets its way.

The software giant unveiled View Mixed Reality, a way for any Windows 10 device to embrace augmented reality, or the concept of overlaying digital images over the real world. Typically, you would have to wear special headsets to take advantage of AR, but View Mixed Reality lets you use your laptop's camera and display. The feature will be included into any PC running Windows 10 S, a new version of Windows designed for classrooms.

Microsoft's betting that 3D and mixed reality will be a big deal in the future, as computer-generated images move from the laptop, tablet and phone screens we're used to seeing, and into glasses or goggles that overlay them on the real world. Beyond laptops, Microsoft also showed off other mixed reality experiences using special headsets.

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Microsoft claims that 65 percent of jobs will be completely new for the next generation and that there will be at least 7 million new jobs in the creative industries for 3D in North America alone. Getting in early on the action will allow the company to gain a foothold in this burgeoning industry.

Microsoft's foray into 3D isn't all that new. Last month, the company released a free new update for its Windows software called Creators Update. Among the changes were new apps such as Paint3D and View 3D, which let users create and view the 3D content on their PC screens.

That, however, is set to change somewhat. The View3D app will get an update in the fall to support mixed reality, letting people preview 3D objects in the real world through a mixed reality headset (such as this $300 one from Acer). Microsoft's also planning to add similar features to its Office software.

Finally, Microsoft will be partnering with Pearson Education to bring its 3D and MR devices to the curriculum in 2018. Subjects that will feature this new-fangled technology will include commerce, history and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

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