Microsoft Pushes Forward with Mixed Reality

Posted on October 3, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 36 Comments

At a special event today in San Francisco, Microsoft announced a number of milestones for its Windows Mixed Reality platform. Key among them: Windows Mixed Reality headsets are now available for pre-order.

“We are standing at the threshold of the next revolution in computing,” Microsoft’s Alex Kipman writes. “A revolution where computers empower us to expand our capabilities and transcend time, space, and devices. A revolution where we immerse ourselves in virtual worlds of our choosing and we accomplish seemingly impossible things while making lasting memories with the people we love.”

Jumping back to earth, here’s what Microsoft announced today:

Samsung is on board. Samsung has joined the list of hardware makers that will ship Windows Mixed Reality headsets this holiday season.

Windows Mixed Reality headsets are here. The first generation Windows Mixed Reality headsets are now available for pre-order. These include:

Microsoft has purchased AltSpaceVR. Described as one of the pioneers in VR, AltSpaceVR is key to Microsoft’s goal of building a community around mixed reality.

SteamVR is coming to Windows Mixed Reality. Last month, Microsoft revealed that SteamVR was coming to customers with Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Starting today, developers can access a Windows Mixed Reality SteamVR preview.

And … that’s it.


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Comments (36)

36 responses to “Microsoft Pushes Forward with Mixed Reality”

  1. glenn8878

    Just in time after they conveniently cancelled Groove Music.

  2. PeteB

    "SteamVR is coming to WMR"

    Um no. It is MS and WMR that is begging developers of existing SteamVR titles to include support for WMR HMDs.

    And that's not likely to happen since WMR is locked to one single version of Windows and kind of anti open VR. Last thing we need is Microsoft being any kind of gatekeeper in the VR space.

    Problem is MS hasn't really innovated anything here, there's no content - firstparty or otherwise - outside of a five minute halo techdemo that 343 made. Theyre desperately trying to jump the VR bandwagon with the "mixed reality" branding nonsense, and save face after betting everything on Hololens and failing.

  3. illuminated

    I wonder what are resolutions of mentioned headsets. Many smartphone in google cardboard or similar options just bring old 1990s IBM PC graphics into VR. Not impressive at all. VR headsets should have much better screens than regular phones.

  4. Jules Wombat

    Just grunking around with Unity 3D game development and a $20 Google Cardboard viewer over the weekend, convinces me that there is very compelling consumer and business VR market comming.

    Warning: Running with Dinosaurs can make you sick.

  5. bleeman

    "We are standing at the threshold of the next revolution in...." enter your favorite cancelled Microsoft product here. We've heard it all before, fell for it, and got sucker punched in the end. I've been accused over the years of being a Microsoft Fan Boy, bought into all the products over the years (Microsoft network hardware (routers and switches), Zune, Windows Home Server, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7 and 8, MS Band, Response Point, Small Business Server etc.). No more. I'm done. I was excited having one cohesive ecosystem and I've watched it slowly erode away to nothing more than either nothing at all or the same stuff everyone else is offering. For me Groove was the last straw. And yes Paul I know it's been around since 2006 as I started out with the brown Zune too. I'm just tired of the constant rebranding, reconfiguring, "Oh look here at the latest and greatest we promised you all along", "Oh wait, did we forget to mention it doesn't work on the last product you bought from us a year ago. Here's how to get the new version with the new piece of hardware".

    This time I'm not biting and I'm seriously reconsidering my Xbox One X pre-order as I'm just tired of the inevitable let down.

    • RamblingGeek

      In reply to bleeman:

      Yup.. feeling the same way. XBOX Should be split and MS just not bother with consumer at all and just stick to enterprise.

      • zybch

        In reply to RamblingGeek:

        You do realize that xbox makes literally billions and billions for the company. The other consumer devices did not. They didn't come close, not even a little bit.

        Phil Spencer being promoted to head of xbox shows MS isn't about to let the platform die nor split it off.

  6. mgullotta

    No MR on Xbox One X announcement? I was really hoping to see that. At this point there won't be any announcement for MR on Xbox One X this year?

    • SRLRacing

      In reply to mgullotta:

      Me too, I really want to purchase one of these but I need to know what they are doing on the Xbox side of things before I go for it.

      • mgullotta

        In reply to SRLRacing:

        Me too. I have several laptops and a surface pro, but nothing that has a GPU so I would have to buy a new computer in addition to the cost of the $300-500 headset itself. I don't think I can do that. I was really hoping to use it with the One X.

  7. rbgaynor

    "Described as one of the pioneers in VR, AltSpaceVR is key to Microsoft’s goal of building a community around mixed reality."

    Wasn't AltSpaceVR on the verge of having to close their doors?

    • Roger Ramjet

      In reply to rbgaynor:

      They actually did close. Alex Kipman decided to save them, and bring it back to life. I went to their website earlier today, when I saw the report and they put it all in their FAQ. From the read, it was probably not much bigger than a garage type thing, probably MS acquired it for zero plus salary and health benefits for employees (just kidding, but certainly would have been immaterial in MS terms).

      From a business perspective nice risk/reward, but I think it is doomed anyway since anything they do can just as easily be copied by Facebook, if it ever became material enough to matter. There was probably a reason the VCs that are the usual suspects at that size did not step in to give them cash. But then again, MS has some other little things going on in that space, like Remix 3D, so maybe they add 2+2 and get something bigger than 4.

      • allanwith

        In reply to Roger Ramjet:

        Microsoft will most definitely mess it up...

        The one hope is that they can get it working with Minecraft, where there is already a big community and to a lesser degree with Xbox Live. Microsoft Teams and Skype could be connected options too - but I want to see it to believe it...

  8. CaedenV

    hope they can play nice with Steam (and vice versa) because these 2 need to work together to get VR/AR off the ground in any meaningful way.

  9. swarnock

    What did I miss? This looks like a VR play. What's "mixed" about it?

  10. MutualCore

    Nice to see actual physical products ready for pre-order today! Microsoft is starting to look like a real company.

  11. Roger Ramjet

    Ultimately, the MR thing for Microsoft is about enhancing the productivity & quality of experiences of people who work in or with 3D, and that is a gigantic market. They do need to make these intermediate offerings to get there, but most are not seeing the forest for the trees. I don't think they are going to try to sell these headsets to all comers this holiday season. I have to imagine if they sell a few millions they will be OK for now, its about building from the ground up starting with early adopters whoever those are, so they don't concede the space to Facebook, Sony, HTC etc, until the technology is ready to sing and dance.

  12. MikeGalos

    And ... that's plenty!

    In fact, it's lots more than any other vendor has available and is, by far, the most broad and flexible platform out there, especially when you remember this platform uses existing development tools and the same API system as HoloLens and Windows.

    Pretty amazing they did it and most of those devices will be in customer hands this month. Here on earth.

  13. billalm

    I don't know why they bother. They are going to put in a half-hearted effort and then bail on this like almost every other consumer product they released.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to billalm:

      Simple - they are going to dominate this field. It requires a decent PC or a powerful console....geez who has the largest market share of the former...MS and they are a leader in consoles. Its already game over, their lead is formidable and no one else has anything close to them. Phones will be fun and useful but a whole different level of whimpy compared to the full experience on a PC or Console. MS for the win, game, set, and match.

  14. Pedro Vieira

    Man, they're really going all in on this. "Microsoft’s goal of building a community around mixed reality." I've read that twice. A MR "community". Nobody cares about MR, but they're so obsessed about it to the point of redesigning the entire Windows UI around it.

    Someone tell MS to stop pushing this mixed reality nonsense, consumers don't want it, it's only useful for a few niche markets. It's not happening.

  15. maethorechannen

    Microsoft has purchased AltSpaceVR

    Great. Another product that can wither and die.

  16. Bats

    Sorry. This is an AUTO-FAIL.

    $400 for a virtual reality headset, when you can do it for $300 less or even $390 less?

    Also,...C' know that Samsung isn't all in on this. They have they're own platform that they are going to promote.

    This is what's going to happen. One year from now, these partners will be no more. This headset is too complicated, too messy, and too expensive. I am sure it's decent, but no one will want to put up with that.