Now that we’ve seen all those (very similar) mixed reality headsets announced at IFA this week, it’s time for the ringleader to have their say. HP, Dell, Asus, Acer, and Lenovo are all building the headsets around Microsoft’s Mixed Reality platform, which is effectively a VR platform with concepts from Microsoft’s enterprise HoloLens headset added in. During their keynote at IFA 2017, Microsoft finally revealed exactly when Mixed Reality will be arriving.
Microsoft confirmed that the Windows Mixed Reality platform will be part of the free Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and that the update will arrive on October 17. The Mixed Reality platform will be a part of Windows 10, which opens up some interesting possibilities. Besides just being able to run virtual reality apps and games (including Steam VR games), it’ll be possible to interact with Mixed Reality as if it were simply your PC. In the virtual home space, you’ll be able to pin apps around the space like you would on the taskbar of your computer, then open them up — sounds silly, but if you want to get to work using Word in a virtual reality setting, you can totally do that!
Microsoft is also imagining some augmented reality features for the future, although it doesn’t sound like we’ll see many of those just yet. It’s easy to tell out of the gate that, like with other VR headsets, this is a very rudimentary implementation of an ambitious concept. Headsets don’t have high enough resolution displays and computers don’t have strong enough GPUs to power the kind of unrestricted, hyper-realistic VR of sci-fi imagining.
That makes Windows Mixed Reality as it is now an imperfect but necessary stepping stone on the way to greater things. That’s a long way of saying it’s a first generation tech product — we’ve been following the industry long enough to know there’s going to be some disappointment involved. That could make these new headsets tough sells, but if you’re the adventurous sort, you’ll probably want to check one of them out — the potential for this technology really is incredible, but it’s going to take a few tries to get it right.
Basically, if you want better VR, here’s what you can do — buy into the Mixed Reality platform on day one — the headsets and Microsoft’s touch controllers will start shipping on October 17 as well — then start complaining about it on message boards! With the amount of time Microsoft and its hardware partners have put into this, we get the feeling they’ll be listening.
Check out more of our IFA 2017 coverage right here!