Microsoft Reveals $300 VR Headsets With 3D Windows Push

by Jamie Feltham • October 26th, 2016

Microsoft is currently hosting a press event in which it’s showcasing the latest version of its Windows 10 operating system, and it means big things for both virtual and mixed reality.

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The company has announced a new line of VR headsets from partners like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer. They feature 6 degree of freedom (DOF) inside-out tracking and start at $299 though, based on images from the event, they’re tethered devices that connect to PCs and laptops. One of these unspecified devices was used on stage during the event as the company showcased how VR works with the latest version of Windows 10, named the Creator’s Update.

The announcement came at the end of a reveal of the update’s 3D capabilities. The company showcased a range of new features, starting with 3D model capture using HP’s Windows Phone X3. An on-stage sandcastle was quickly captured and rendered in 3D using the phone’s camera. That model was then quickly exported into a new version of the Paint app, Paint 3D.

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A little later on, Microsoft brought its HoloLens mixed reality headset onto the stage. That same sandcastle was again used, this time projected in the real world as a 3D image sitting next to the real thing. It was an impressive demonstration, but even more impressive was a quick showcase of heading to a furniture retailer’s web page. The HoloLens user found and selected a chair on a 2D browser, and then pulled it out of the page as a 3D model. We weren’t sure, however, if this was a live demo or simply a scripted sequence.

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Following that we saw the VR implementation. A user put on a headset to enter a virtual space and later stepped into a 360 degree video similar to the Facebook demonstration seen at Oculus Connect 3 earlier in the month.

The Creator’s Update will be arriving next year for free for anyone that already has a Windows 10 device, and preview builds will be rolling out to Windows Insiders members soon.

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  • Paulo

    Seems a bit overkill for inside-out tracking when the HMD is still tethered. Would be interesting to see how well it tracks.

    The more high quality headsets that come out for PC VR the better. Oculus really needs to start bringing in good HMD’s to their store and SDK.

    • Jorgie

      Yea, but tethered can still mean HMD + LAPTOP.

      • Paulo

        Not interested in that tbh. I like Oculus approach with santa cruz much more. It’s less powerful, but much more elegant and consumer friendly.

    • G-man

      plus theres the issue that once you go inside out tracking controllers are going to have to use the same tech and relay that back to the pc. i’m guessing there was no details about controllers at all in the announcement…

  • Steve Biegun

    The demo of the new headset was entirely scripted. I would be cautious about purchasing any of these without knowing anything about the specs or actual quality.

    • blue5peed

      And they won’t be winning any oscars either.

    • Mario

      Literally every demo ever presented during the reveal of new tech IS scripted.

    • xalener

      What is an unscripted demo? Does such a thing exist?

  • Leonardo Phillips

    HTC Vive Lighthouse is an inside out tracking system, is it possible that they use the same technology? Valve opened the technology this summer…

    • Nine2Nine

      I think your confused about what an inside out tracking system is. Inside out tracking does not use external hardware to work (like Vives lighthouse).

  • Leonardo Phillips

    Or may be possible that they use the same technology of the Kinect: structured light

  • unreal_ed

    $300, inside out tracking, and made by partnerS. Hmmmm that’s how you know you get high-quality !

    Did they announce a release date?

    • Mario

      This will hit a MUCH larger market than what current PC equivalents can. It’s hard to believe but most people out there want something affordable, not necessarily best quality, and so on. Mobile VR should have done this due to it’s affordability and ease of access but at the end of the day, VR is about immersion. Mobile VR does not compare to what the PC products are capable of. I believe Microsoft is trying to hit a middle ground there. At this price point, it doesn’t matter quality so much as the experience and immersion for that price point.

      • unreal_ed

        The $300 and partnerS part I wouldn’t mind so much. It’s mostly the inside out tracking part that I’m very skeptical for, especially at that price. That’s the kind of stuff that if it’s implemented poorly will make people sick and turn them off of VR, thinking it’s not for them saying “VR makes me sick”.

        Although, I did remember since the original comment that they’ve already got a lot of tracking experience thanks to their Hololens research. So I’m less cynical about it, but still worried.

  • Joey Cardenzana

    The headset looks like the first Nintendo with headphones attached. I wouldn’t buy that just because it looks like it came straight out the 80s. HTC vive all the way

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    interesting, but I’ll pass. Wireless or nuthin’.