"For these emerging technologies to solve complex enterprise problems, they cannot work in isolation," Macklin said. "Instead, Microsoft will need to integrate new AR displays, operations technology and cloud-based intelligence systems."
Microsoft's approach is similar to that of Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google, which is investing across VR with Cardboard and Daybreak and has also explored AR with Google Glass. By contrast, Sony (SNE) has put all of its resources behind VR with PlayStation VR, which launched in October for PlayStation 4.
According to SuperData Research, the enterprise market for virtual reality and augmented reality business-to-business and business custom services will grow from $16 million and $17 million in 2016 to over $1.6 billion and over $3 billion by 2020, respectively.
"We expect a transition to significant revenues will start in a five- to seven-year timeframe," Greenlight's Macklin said. "AR is already a legitimate market through several industrial use-cases and numerous large vendors, but we think the current momentum of virtual reality will pave the way for augmented reality to be accepted among consumers and new enterprises."
Microsoft will be in a unique position when Windows 10 headsets begin shipping because those devices will support the full spectrum of mixed reality. Cincotta said it's up to each company how it designs its headset to take advantage of these emerging technologies. The headsets are expected to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week, when consumer launch dates will also be revealed.