Microsoft Wants to Make VR Cheap and Easy With Windows 10

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Wants to Make VR Cheap and Easy With Windows 10

Do you have a virtual reality headset? Probably not, because they’re expensive and require even more expensive computers to run the complex graphics. But Microsoft wants to open up a new category of low-cost VR headsets powered by a new update to Windows 10.

Advertisement

Starting at $300, the headsets will be made by HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer. The hardware will run on a new VR platform in the Windows 10 Creators Update without the need for additional accessories or a complicated setup process. You can just plug the headset into a laptop.

At least, that’s what Microsoft says. Beyond the starting price and a very basic demo showing a virtual space where you can watch TV or use apps like Skype and Paint in VR. Why anyone would want to do this is beyond me.

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Wants to Make VR Cheap and Easy With Windows 10

The VR platform will work with some more Windows apps, too. The demo showed a Microsoft employee take a HoloTour to Rome which seemed kind of cool. It’s unclear what kind of resolution the new software and headsets support. It’s also unclear how well they’ll work with video games, though one could imagine that the average laptop doesn’t have the graphics processing power to support the same games that look great on Oculus or HTC Vive headsets.

The low price point of the VR headsets contrasts with the very high cost of the Hololens. At $3,000—ten times the cost of the cheapest new VR headset—the mixed reality Hololens hardware is basically unaffordable for everyone except business and rich people. So at least the rest of us can now experience the VR side of things.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Microsoft Wants to Make VR Cheap and Easy With Windows 10

The Windows 10 update will be out early next year, and the new hardware will roll out around the same time.

Advertisement

Senior editor at Gizmodo.

DISCUSSION

qwert123
JohnnyBravo

This will probably be bad for VR.

There’s already a bad fragmentation just between Oculus and Vive, adding a new, lower, competing tier will just make things worse for that.

Of course, the cynic in me sees that this may be an attack on Valve/HTC more than anything else, as SteamOS is pointed to as the haven for people who would never switch to Windows 10.

There’s a lot to it, I suppose, but this just feels like MS’s same strategy of the past 30 years - take over a sector by making something that isn’t quite compliant with the established standards, then get content makers and developers to use your version of the standard.