Microsoft accidentally bricks Insider HoloLens 2 devices

Red faces all round thanks to premature emission


Microsoft is all about the metaverse these days if its recent emissions are anything to go by. So it's unfortunate that the company has managed to brick some nerd goggles enrolled in the HoloLens Insider programme.

Just like regular Windows Insiders, HoloLens users have their own programme where the brave may test Microsoft's latest and greatest. However, judging by posts on social media, things went awry with a recent build that left some devices unresponsive. "I have 2 hololens 2," complained one user. "All of the sudden one of them can only be turn[ed] on but I can not do anything with it."

The user went on to reveal that the borked visor was running build 20348.1466 while the working one was on 20348.1432.

The latter build, 20348.1432, is the release version of Windows Holographic 21H2 for HoloLens 2 users. It included all manner of exciting things, such as Moving Platform Mode, aimed at customers tottering around "large marine vessels experiencing low-dynamic motion."

However, 20348.1466 is a build that slipped out when it shouldn't. On the official support page, Microsoft noted that "some users may encounter an update failure with Insider build 20346.1466" while extolling the virtues of preview build 20346.1463 (featuring colour-blind mode and an update to Microsoft's Edge browser).

Should one find oneself with a seemingly dead headset with .1466 installed, the advice is to reflash it. Such is the risk of the Insider programme, although it appears to be mainly headsets that started life running Windows Holographic version 2004 that are affected.

The incident calls into question Microsoft's processes. Posting on Reddit, an engineer said: "We briefly released an Insider build that could encounter that issue with some configurations. This was pulled from Insider flights as soon as we heard about it and we're working on a build without that issue now."

Gotta love the Redmond approach to Quality Assurance.

The engineer went on: "We have also added additional tests to help prevent this in the future. I love the effort from our Insiders and it's embarrassing for me to slow any of it down."

Embarrassing is one word for it. With the US military also slowing down its deployment of Microsoft's Augmented Reality hardware, one hopes that a similar iffy approach to quality will not find its way onto the battlefield. ®

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