Microsoft is going all in on mixed reality.
The Redmond, Washington-based company invited the media to a Windows Mixed Reality event in San Francisco. In the invite, it promised to discuss "where Microsoft is headed next" in the AR/VR space. Now that the event is done, we know what that tease meant.
- Microsoft will now release major Windows 10 updates twice a year
- Windows 10 S is a streamlined version of Windows for education
- Windows Mixed Reality: What is it and when can you get it?
When was Microsoft's event?
Microsoft held its event in San Francisco on 3 October at 2pm EST.
Can you re-watch the event online?
No. The event was not live-streamed.
What was announced at the event?
First up, Microsoft announced that it acquired AltspaceVR.
The virtual reality social network hosts events like presidential debate-watching parties. With the AltspaceVR team aboard, Microsoft said it looks forward to building the world’s preeminent mixed reality community. And, for now, it has no plans to shutter AltspaceVR. The platform will continue to work on PC and Mac in 2D mode, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Daydream by Google, and Samsung Gear VR.
Microsoft even said it plans to focus on fostering the community and making sure AltspaceVR remains a "vibrant place" to hang out in VR.
Halo: Recruit experience coming
Microsoft said it will bring Halo to its Windows Mixed Reality headsets later this month. Halo: Recruit will be available as a free download on 17 October. 343 industries created the experience, which is not the full Halo game, but rather a look at how Halo could be in virtual reality. You can try it in Microsoft Stores across the US, or you can just download it from the Windows Store for free
Mixed Reality headset pre-orders open
To compliment the Halo news, Microsoft said that, as of 3 October, you could start pre-ordering Windows Mixed Reality headsets from Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Support for them is baked into the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which will begin rolling out to from 17 October. Keep in mind Microsoft's mixed reality platform is a mix between augmented reality and virtual reality.
However, these first mixed reality headsets seem to lean way more toward the VR end of the spectrum. They have built-in sensors to track your physical position, and they don't require you to buy or install external sensors in your room. You won't need a large play space either or hours of setup. You're suppose to just "plug and play". HP, Lenovo, and Acer are just three of the companies working on them.
They're all supposed to be affordable, too. For instance, they start at $299. You can pre-order your Windows Mixed Reality headsets at Microsoft Store and Microsoft.com.
Samsung Odyssey unveiled
Samsung officially unveiled its Windows Mixed Reality headset.
We already knew ones from Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, and Lenovo were in the works, but Samsung HMD Odyssey was only rumored. It stands out because it has dual-OLED displays, each with a higher 1400 x 1400 resolution and 110-degree field-of-view. Samsung also included IPD adjustment at the base of its headset, so you can adjust the distance between the two lenses to get a sharper picture for VR.
These features make the headset more in line with the Oculus Rift, rather than a budget headset. Samsung is also including built-in headphones with its Odyssey headset. Speaking of the Oculus Rift, Samsung’s headset will be priced similarly. It costs $499 with bundled motion controllers. It will be available on 6 November, and it requires Windows 10 Fall Creators Update that’s arriving on 17 October.
Pre-orders kick off in the US on 3 October.