GDC 2017: Microsoft Shipping VR Dev Kits This Month, Full Launch This Holiday Season
Microsoft’s VR headsets, made in partnership with major companies, remain shrouded in mystery at the moment, but select developers will start getting a peak behind the curtain later this month.
The company today confirmed that development kits for its first partner device, made by Acer, will be rolling out in stages starting this March. In fact, any developer that attended its mixed reality session at the 2017 Game Developers Conference today received a ‘Golden Ticket’ that will get them a unit in the coming weeks. We’ve tested the device for ourselves already.
Acer’s headset features two LCD panels at 1440 x 1440 resolution, a 90Hz refresh rate, built-in audio and microphone support, and is connected to a PC via HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0.
The most important feature, of course, is the inside-out tracking supported in all of Microsoft’s mixed reality devices, including HoloLens. This on-board positional tracking system negates the need for external sensors tracking a headset and controller’s location as seen with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.
Developer kits will feature access to Windows 10 Insider preview builds and the software development kit (SDK) needed to start building mixed reality apps.
The consumer version of the kit will be launching this holiday season along with other Microsoft headsets from Dell, ASUS, HP, 3DGlasses, and Lenovo, the latter of which we saw as a shell at CES earlier this year. Speaking to UploadVR, Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman outlined the holiday season as “something that starts in October and ends at Black Friday/Thanksgiving,” giving us a pretty clear month-long window for launch.
As for the uses cases when the devices launch, Kipman assured that they would very much be “consumer devices”, used for both interactive content like creation apps and consumptive software like watching movies or streaming games. No one at the company has outright said these headsets will support the Xbox One and Project Scorpio consoles yet, but they have heavily implied that will happen next year.
We’ll next see the headsets at the company’s Build developer conference in May, and after that we’d expect to hear more at E3. There’s still a lot of ground to cover, before launch.