Microsoft Begins Selling Mixed Reality Headsets Online

Posted on August 1, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 22 Comments

Earlier this year, Microsoft showed off its play into the mixed reality world with virtual reality headsets at Build. The devices, which the company hopes will help it be a key player in the augmented reality future, are now available for sale.

Made available on Microsoft’s website are the Acer headset for $299 and the HP model for $329. From a spec perspective, both devices are identical with a 1440×1440 panel per eye, 90hz display and 95-degree field of view. The fact that the specs are the same should not be surprising as there is a hard minimum requirement for these devices to be able to run the Windows 10 software adequately and not produce motion sickness.

Microsoft is hoping that these mixed reality headsets will be a stepping stone to a later version of HoloLens. The goal is that with these devices being offered at a low price point, developers will build content for them and when HoloLens is ready for the consumer, that content will translate well to the new device.

Later this year, there will also be two controllers available for the headset but Microsoft says that these will not be offered until closer to the holiday shopping season.

Of course, Microsoft is not the only company playing in this segment. Apple has AR Kit, Facebook has Oculus, Google has Day Dream and there is also Magic Leap. This market is rapidly evolving with each company hoping to become a leader in the industry but for now, expect all of these competitors to move aggressively forward to try and capitalize on the growing market share.

[Update] Confusingly, the fine print at the bottom of the page says that this is still a pre-order and that devices will arrive in August.

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Microsoft Begins Selling Mixed Reality Headsets Online”

  1. Jules Wombat

    So are these units compatible with Apple AR Kit ?

    • evox81

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      I don't even understand your question... One is a virtual reality headset that gets connected to a Windows PC. The other is a set of software tools for building Augmented Reality applications for an iPhone. I don't understand how they would be "compatible" as they aren't even similar.

      Or, if I just got majorly trolled and fell for it, bravo!

  2. ErichK

    Hmm, okay. So these are developer editions, and the recommended specs are beefy, Core i7 w/ GTX 980, etc. etc.

    Will be interesting if this takes off. I consider AR/MR/VR to be kind of a "50/50" chance kind of thing for me to get into if the prices are reasonable and there's games I want to play on it.

  3. BoItmanLives

    Poor MS missed the VR wave because they bet it all on Hololens Hololens Hololens, developers and consumers wanted nothing to do with it (mailslot FOV didn't help matters), and here we are with gimmicky personal theater devices that aren't real VR like Vive and Rift.

    These will end up in the same bargain bin as the cheap chinese fake VR goggles.

    • JudaZuk

      reply to BoItmanLives: - Well VR was really nothing to miss .. it flopped, again, just like last decade, and is slowly going away again (so it can come back again in 10 years or so as a "new thing")
      • sharpsone

        In reply to JudaZuk:

        I agree, VR already feels like 3D TV. It's neat, has potential but it's far from perfect and needs another 5 years to grow. This is the very reason why MS is going this route. They provide the software and let the OEMs work the hardware. You also don't see MS racing to produce a VR headset for XOX because they know Sony is failing in this arena so why go there?

        • JudaZuk

          reply to sharpsone:

          Totally agree, I'm very happy Microsoft is not rushing in with VR on Xbox One X, they are watching how VR is being received , and let others develop the hardware.

          Hololens is a totally different thing, because there is a place for that for enterprises in certain areas, it is not for home users.

  4. Waethorn

    YouTube 360 videos on a phone (or tablet) is a magical experience.

    RT has some really good ones in settings that you won't find anywhere else, in bite-sized lengths:

  5. SvenJ

    Can you actually do anything with these besides develop for them, at this point? It seems a bit odd that these are the cheap entry level prices when you can get an Xbox One S for those prices, with games, and people think that's expensive.

  6. JudaZuk

    I still feel VR is pointless, and mixed reality...well basically the same.

    For Architects , general construction and manufacturing, possibly medical where you need to visualise something you are creating or examining properly, then it can be really useful, but for home use..what is the point?

    VR locks you out of the world, and away from your family and friends. And it really only works in stationary scenarios .

    You can not "explore Paris" with a VR headset, (unless you do it from a virtual car) because how far can you walk in a normal home (with a Visor) before you walk into a wall? well if "exploring Paris" is sitting at a Café and never leaving ,and see same scenario in a constant loop , then it would work is guess

    Same goes for games and VR . forget FPS games, 2D platformers , and basically most games ever made. (Why? because your character in the game is moving..and you are physically standing is that immersive, and how does that make any sense? That is one of the many reasons people get sick as well.)

    Only games it can potentially work in properly is in games where you sit down anyway, so Racers where you never leave the car, and potentially flight simulators, but there hardly any of those anymore . (Well "flight simulators in space" is a thing I guess)

    How many are willing to pay even $299, to play a handful of games that will give you worse graphics, motion sickness, but it is in VR .

    Mixed reality is almost even worse then VR. Sure you can see the world around you, but if you are at home .. how interesting is that? Your (most likely fairly boring) home is still the same place even if you add "virtual" stuff to it . It is a fun novelty but as long as you are tethered with a cable and you really can't move around very far, it is rather silly. Wearing a big visor like the hololens is hardly practical outside your home either, even if the technology in it self is impressive.

    Hololens or mixed reality for games..? just no

    .. a very limited number of games work with this, and despite several different manufacturers have tried, including Microsoft.. touching , using /manipulating non existing object floating in thin air is almost impossible and you never get any proper control .

    Leap motion, utterly hopeless still to this day, Kinect and pressing items on the screen by pressing in the air ..worthless , even with the Hololens you see the struggle that who ever uses it , even from Microsoft, has with controlling anything.

    The technology definitely has it uses.. but I just don't see home use one of them, and regular consumers the customers to it

    There is a reason AR/VR studios are closing ...there is no market really with normal consumers..

  7. kevinburkett

    My HP unit arrived today. No docs. Trying to figure out how to use it and develop with it.

  8. ErichK

    What PC specs do you need for these and what games/software will work with it? I'm going to Goo ... I mean, Bing that question right now, but if anybody here would like to enlighten me... :)

  9. Mark from CO


    "Microsoft is hoping that these mixed reality headsets will be a stepping stone to a later version of HoloLens."  Yeah, like 2019 if your sources are right.  Timing is like waiting for the 22nd Century to begin in tech time.  Typical Microsoft... wait until it has the best, most complicated product, only to find out the company missed the market.

    If tech history is any indication, the market will allow only 2 real successes, with perhaps a third being a wanna be.  Without a real platform (OS) that has real consumers, how is Microsoft really going to match Google and Apple in this market?  From the market reaction, Apple's AR Kit lays a real infrastructure foundation for AR/MR, skipping well ahead of HoloLens.  And Google has most of the consumers in its hand, and with Day Dream (and Glass), seems to be approaching this market like it did with Android - get products, even if simple, out that work and rapidly improve them.  Looks like Microsoft and Facebook will be fighting to be the wanna be.  Another consumer flameout for Microsoft in the making? 

    Mark from CO

  10. Chris_Kez

    I hope Microsoft Stores will have demo stations set up as they do for the HTC Vive.

  11. hack-o-holic

    This is just such a giant collective SNORE and such a painful slap in the face of fans of other much more desirable MS products that they just let die on the vine or else flat out decimated while people still loved them. Every day I still use Media Center because 15 years later there still isn't one product that does everything it did. Windows Home Server was awesome too but never marketed (or in reality probably came years after it should have). And then don't even get started on the horrible things they did to Windows Phone when it is still a much more preferable mobile OS than Android or IOS IMHO. Millions of people loved those products and wanted more and they gave those fans the collective middle finger.

    Now here comes Mixed Reality headsets that are being developed, MARKETED (what a concept) and sold to a market that has no buyers. Ya a few of you are interested but name one killer app for these things. The average computer user will never know what these are nor will they ever have a use for them. Yes HoloLens is cool but this is no stepping stone nor will it ensure the success of HoloLens (if it ever really comes out). What this is , is a colossal waste of time and will fall flat on its face and be a huge failure.

    In the mean time I'll continue my search for a true all-in-one replacement for Media Center while at the same time dreaming of the good old days when Windows Phone was cool and innovative (and had a perceivable market share). The solution to both problems will come from Google while MS keeps inventing solutions to problems that don't exist.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to hack-o-holic:
      I still use WMC every day on Win7 too - it's still my main DVR. All the things MS have tried to do to kill it, yet it just does what it does - very well. Even now, no 3rd party system has live TV integrated so well and is so easy to use.
      Agree on these headsets too - they will die a withering death due to no real backing, advertising, plan or consumer interest. They're just gimmicky devices with no market, and even at $300 are just pointless.

    • Tallin

      In reply to hack-o-holic:

      Plex does most of what WMC did, and on more (all?) platforms. Only thing really lacking is live TV support (should be expanding to more devices soon) and encrypted channels with cablecard (the only one that seems to be working on that is SiliconDust), which is only a problem for the US.

  12. hchwa

    I pre-ordered the HP headset few months back and I received the device today.

  13. Minok

    Why does MSFT insist (and others do this too) on using new terms for something that is already defined. Its "augmented reality" - we don't need a new term for that. Stop muddying the waters, because that wont help a technology take off.

    Inexpensive? Hm... maybe. Yes, for what you get its a decent price but when folks already have a smart phone with a camera on it (admittedly splitting a 1920x1080 screen into two halves with more limited frame rate), for which a plastic google-cardboard format headset can be had for $10-20 easily, that $300 product has got to take it a step up and have a longer product life.