back to article See this, Google? Microsoft happy to take a half-billion in sweet, sweet US military money to 'increase lethality'

Microsoft has signed a $480m contract to supply 100,000 HoloLens augmented reality headsets to the US military – literally doubling the number of HoloLenses that have been sold since its launch more than three years ago. The contract signing presumably means someone in the armed services tried the headset on and decided that …

  1. IceC0ld

    so much to choose from ..........

    this thread is the reason I come here, a serious position, yet filled will side chat and humour too, creased me up, loved it :o)

    examples :

    The limited range of vision that comes with existing goggles is also presumably what made military chiefs comfortable with the HoloLens' somewhat limited field of view.

    then THIS

    yet there hasn't been as much of a fuss over Microsoft's censored version of Bing in the Middle Kingdom

    I do believe that being BING is suffice to classify it as 'crippled' but I may be wrong LOL

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: so much to choose from ..........

      yet there hasn't been as much of a fuss over Microsoft's censored version of Bing in the Middle Kingdom

      Going by the number of useful results, I thought Bing was censored everywhere?

  2. JohnFen

    Not surprising at all

    "What is perhaps a little more surprising is that Microsoft went for the contract at all given an increasing level of upset among employees of tech companies "

    I don't think that's surprising -- Microsoft has been an abusive and terrible company for a very long time. I doubt that many people willing to work there are ignorant of that fact, unlike an awful lot of Google employees.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Not surprising at all

      Er... Google and Microsoft.. hmm.. one's a money grabbing bastard with some (not many) ethics where profit is king and most products work as intended. the other is just a money grabbing bastard where profit is king and none of their products are presumed to work as intended. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out which is which.

      1. Tigra 07

        Re: Not surprising at all

        Since when do Google's products work as intended? I've only ever had to return Google's phones/tablets, and no one elses. Google's products look nice, but are absolute dogshit.

        This isn't me defending Microsoft either, they're both as bad as each other. Your experience may differ...

      2. Glen 1

        Re: Not surprising at all

        >work as intended

        Ah, but do you mean as intended by user, or as intended by the CEO?

        Data slurp first, bait for the user second.

        1. Tigra 07

          Re: Not surprising at all

          That's probably what it is Glen. Silly me, trying to use a Google phone as a phone first, rather than a surveillance device for Google to get my data.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Not surprising at all

      They were going to go with Apple, but they weren't sure what a "Walled Battlefield" was.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not surprising at all

        but they weren't sure what a "Walled Battlefield" was

        Urban fighting in the "old city" part of any 1000+ year old middle eastern city?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It's interesting how Google employees and users were up in arms over the use of AI technology in deadly drones and plans to censor search results in China – a highly secretive internal project – yet there hasn't been as much of a fuss over Microsoft's censored version of Bing in the Middle Kingdom nor the military use of its technology. Redmond's president Brad Smith simply shrugged last month that America's fighters deserve the best tech, ie: Microsoft's."

    Seattle isn't San Francisco. It's expensive to buy housing in SF, so families or couples planning to have a family move away. And they move to places like Seattle.

    So you're going to get younger people in SF, people who haven't yet found someone to settle down with. Also people who fit in with those young people and their culture. And younger people often have different attitudes to the military than older people.

    1. The Nazz

      Re: Location

      Knowing a little about the geography of the west coast of the USA i'd have expected there to be more snowflakes in the Seattle area than San Francisco but there you go. (Not counting proximity to ski areas).

      1. a_yank_lurker

        Re: Location

        Actually both areas are riddle with snowflakes though one of Boeing's major plants in is the Seattle area. I think one key difference is Slurp has a long term relationship with governments dating back decades that Chocolate Factory lacks.

        1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: Location

          Actually, three of Boeing's major plants are in Seattle, as well as the HQ of the Commercial Airplanes group.

          (The three are Everett, where they make widebodies, Renton, which makes 737s, and Tukwila/Boeing Field where they do a bunch of things including deliver 737s and military work.)

  4. The Nazz

    A new Modern Democracy.

    Overhearing a school Games/Physical Education teacher in conversation :

    "I teach under 15's Rugby*. The problem is, i tell the boys what we are gonna do and they go and do it. I tell the girls what we are gonna do and i get 15 opinions back on what they think we should be doing."

    It now appears to be a growing issue in democracies and employment.

    If you work for Google/Microsoft/Raytheon (to name a few) and don't like what they are doing, making and selling then go work somewhere else. Become an organic vegan farmer or whatever.

    * those alert enough will notice it's proper ruggers, not the hitherto M62 variety.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: A new Modern Democracy.

      >i tell the boys what we are gonna do and they go and do it.

      That's the problem. Back when schools played rugby it was possible to tell a million boys - get out of your trench and walk slowly toward those machine guns because we think a different one of Queen Victoria's grand kids should be king of Belgium.

      Now boys won't shoot foreign children unless you VR an image of an evil pokemon over their face.

  5. ElReg!comments!Pierre


    MagicLeap, [...] also went for the contract, but failed to win it because, you know, its system is garbage.

    Wait, if they went for the contract they must have provided at least a specs sheet (probably not a working prototype, as they are probably still working on one ;-) ). Isn't that kind of application for pork barrel subject to disclosure, should someone ask?

  6. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    The suggestion that someone might have had year-end money is odd, since the year ended in September. So far more likely is that this is a "thing" that they wanted a while back and they've been pushing to get the funding lined up, and it arrived with the GFY 2019, available October 1 2018....

  7. SNAFUology

    Abort, Retry, Ignore

    you see a huge #$^@$^@$%@$!, right in front of %@#$%@#$^@^$^% and %^#$%$%$

    #$%#$%^@ - - #0694860948563

    Fail, Fail, Fail,

    Abort, Retry, Ignore......

    Ahh just the product we want for defence !

  8. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Weapon of Mass Deletion

    Microsoft could crash selected country's economies by wiping all Windows 10 installations - give me a heads up when you do this Satya Nadella? I could make a fortune.

    1. ma1010

      Re: Weapon of Mass Deletion

      Microsoft could crash selected country's economies by wiping all Windows 10 installations pushing out another Windows 10 update like the recent ones

      There, FTFY

  9. RyokuMas

    If the price was right...

    "... literally doubling the number of HoloLenses that have been sold... "

    Does anyone know if the only way to get a Hololens for dev purposes is still:

    a) Live in USA

    b) Pay $3,000?

    ... and they wonder why it's not getting traction. WIndows Phone all over again.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why the surprise?

    I know lots of Silicon Valley types spend their time ranting about how evil the US government is (while being suspiciously quiet about far worse elsewhere as the writer noted), but there are plenty who don't sign up to this. I have plenty of issues with GCHQ asking for communication backdoors, but that doesn't translate to me finding AI searching for better ways to off genocidal nutjobs objectionable.

    1. JohnFen

      Re: Why the surprise?

      "that doesn't translate to me finding AI searching for better ways to off genocidal nutjobs objectionable"

      That's not what they're objecting to.

  11. Usermane


    Microsoft + increase lethality = friendly fire

  12. LucreLout


    What is perhaps a little more surprising is that Microsoft went for the contract at all given an increasing level of upset among employees of tech companies that their employers are taking money from companies that want to use their handiwork to more efficiently kill other human beings.

    Has the author failed to engage their brain before writing this?

    Take two armies, any two, and position them within shooting range of each other and declare war upon each other. What you'll get is dead soldiers. Developing tech for your side that is better than that available to the other just means more of the dead are wearing their uniform than are wearing yours.

    The only way to change the absolute number of dead soldiers, is to kill all of theirs before they kill many of yours, potentially producing a reduction in the total number of dead soldiers.

    Abolition of warfare is not within the gift of software developers to give. It just isn't.

    1. }{amis}{
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Eh?

      The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other b£$&%*d die for his.

      George S. Patton

    2. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      Also the longer a war goes on for the worse the effects of the war are on civilians, in terms of both side effects of the war and direct atrocities committed against them.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      I came here to say something similar.

      "but the gap in outrage is striking."

      I think the difference here is the level of personal interaction and especially the tech workers actual real world knowledge of what AI is and it's lack of anything close to the I part of AI. Increasing the tech on the "Grunt on the Ground" is increasing their chances of winning/survivability. Increase the tech on remote controlled/autonomous drones brings too much RotM imagery to tech people.

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      "Has the author failed to engage their brain before writing this?"

      No - I think you're blaming us for the actions of tech workers? I mean, techies have been creating bad press and embarrassment for corps by kicking up a fuss over military contracts. It's a little surprising that MS has gone for it, in that context.

      But as we say, Microsoft has shrugged off prev criticism.


    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Declare war?

      We're talking about the US here. We haven't declared war since 1953. None of the fighting we've done has been to directly defend citizens of the US, other than arguably going into Afghanistan and trying to root out Al Qaeda and Bin Laden.

      No, US companies supporting the war effort by increasing US soldiers' survivability are only ENCOURAGING the US to fight more wars. Imagine how much killing the US would do if US soldiers were 100% protected from harm? The only thing that stopped Vietnam, and caused draw downs in Iraq and Afghanistan was the public being unhappy with how many soldiers were dying there. Its an unfortunate reality that dead servicemen are the one thing that prevent politicians from sending US troops to even more places.

      Whether you agree with this or not, this is why a lot of tech workers don't want their work to be used to support the US war effort in far flung places with a highly tenuous attachment to the safety of US citizens. If the whole population of the US ever gets behind a war again, which hasn't happened since 1941, the world better look out.

  13. TRT Silver badge

    "to give them greater visibility on the battlefield"

    Err... surely they would want less visibility on the battlefield. Greater visual ability, perhaps. Unless you were meaning they wear massive IR floodlights...

    1. JLV

      Re: "to give them greater visibility on the battlefield"

      got here before me.

      “vision” is probably the better choice. perception, (situational) awareness too.

      ever heard of this thing called camouflage, El Reg? ;-). that’s why the guy on the article pic doesn’t wear a Power Ranger suit.

      1. JLV

        Re: "to give them greater visibility on the battlefield"


        : the ability to see or be seen. : the quality or state of being known to the public. See the full definition for visibility in the English Language Learners Dictionary. visibility.

        Visibility | Definition of Visibility by Merriam-Webster

        Toutes mes excuses, El Reg. Je suis confus.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: "to give them greater visibility on the battlefield"

          Well, although both meanings exist, greater visibility just sounds plain wrong. Better visibility is more ambiguous towards the intended meaning. Greater, you see, means just more, whereas better means more desirable.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How Many Times, El Reg?

    Having said that, earlier this year there was an internal outcry over the Windows giant's contract with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department after the Obama White House began separating children from their parents at the Mexican border in 2015.

    Orange Man Bad? Sure, but he didn't start this policy.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: How Many Times, El Reg?

      Choo choo! Here comes the reality train:

      "Bush and Obama did not have policies that resulted in the mass separation of parents and children like we’re seeing under the current administration"


      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Re: How Many Times, El Reg?

        I'm not a big fan of the Orange Smurf, but it is indeed true that his predecessors were less than perfect themselves... and one of them still got a Nobel Prize for Peace (which I find utterly shameful given the continuation / intensification of wars and torture under his mandate. OK, the current one is arguably worse, but he is is not a Nobel for Peace nominee)

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "its products weren't assisting in the child-separation policy"

    Of course not. They will be assisting in the Life-separation policy.

    Let us not mix the silverware and the dishrags, shall we ?

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