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Microsoft starts shipping HoloLens and announces a big Windows 10 update

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SAN FRANCISCO (CNNMoney) — Microsoft’s take on virtual reality is one step closer to becoming a real product.

The developer version of the HoloLens augmented reality headset starts shipping today, Microsoft announced at its developers’ conference in San Francisco.

The company also unveiled a Windows 10 update that includes new powers for virtual assistant Cortana, expanded security features, and new support for styluses.

Since it was released nine months ago, Windows 10 has enjoyed a faster adoption rate than any previous version of the operating system. Currently there are 271 million active devices running Windows 10, said Microsoft’s Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Windows.

The Windows 10 Anniversary update will be available for free to Windows 10 users sometime this summer. As part of the update, Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, is adding some of the same proactive skills found in Google Now and Apple’s Siri. Instead of waiting for commands or questions, Cortana will start suggesting information or actions that users might find useful ahead of time. It will also be accessible from lock screens and be available on the Xbox One.

Instead of passwords, Windows Hello uses face or fingerprint recognition log users onto Windows 10 devices. In the coming update, Hello will also work with certain Windows apps and sites thorough the Edge browser, including USAA.com.

Another geeky gift for developers: Microsoft announced that every Xbox one can now be unlocked and turned into a developers kit. Social media fans will be happy to hear that there’s finally a universal Windows 10 Twitter app, and Facebook and Instagram apps are on the way.

HoloLens, the Microsoft project that’s done the best job of capturing people’s imaginations recently, is still in the early stages.

The HoloLens headset overlays computer generated imagery with a live view of the world in front of you. Microsoft has already worked with big names like NASA and Volvo on demo apps for the device, and hopes developers can soon start building even more applications.

Approved developers have been able to pre-order the $3,000 HoloLens for the past month. Microsoft did not say how many orders it has accepted. Not everyone will receive their Hololens right away. Instead, orders will roll out slowly to customers over the coming months. Any eventual consumer edition would likely be much more affordable when it becomes available.

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