Microsoft Is Working With OpenVR For Steam, Preview Launches This Holiday

by Jamie Feltham • October 3rd, 2017

As rumored, SteamVR support for the new Windows 10 VR headsets will not be available in time for launch two weeks from now, but customers should get a taste of it later this year.

At its event in San Francisco today Microsoft revealed that a developer preview for the SteamVR support on its new devices, made in partnership with companies like Acer and Dell, is now available. This will allow developers to try out their own content within SteamVR. Microsoft expects to make this preview build available to everyone later this holiday season. Valve released the following statement to us about how the integration will work:

“Microsoft is providing an OpenVR driver that allows SteamVR to automatically identify Windows MR hardware. From a consumer’s experience, this should allow SteamVR titles to ‘just work’ on these devices. On the dev side it is also possible for developers to tune their application for specific aspects of the headsets and/or for the Windows MR controllers.”

This support means Microsoft’s new headsets should get access to hundreds of VR games on Steam. The platform already supports Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and OSVR, meaning anyone with one of those headsets can jump into any VR product on the store, though specific optimization is required to fine-tune control schemes for each platform.

Feature-wise, Microsoft’s headsets offer a very similar experience to Rift and Vive. The headsets themselves offers six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking, as do their motion controllers. The main difference is that this tracking is delivered through an inside-out system, meaning all the movement sensors are located on the hardware itself and not placed around the room like with Rift and Vive. Whether the tracking system can keep up with the these tried and true headsets remains to be seen.

It sounds like gamers will have to hang tight on SteamVR support for a little bit, then. Fortunately, Microsoft will also have VR games on the Windows Store, many of which appear on Steam too. We recently went hands-on with Superhot’s Windows Store version, for example, and we’re looking forward to exclusive content like the new Halo experience too.

The first Windows 10 VR headsets launch Oct. 17.

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What's your reaction?
  • GreasyMullet

    If only it worked with the lighthouses and knuckles I would give serious consideration to Samsung.

    • Bundy

      Why would you want lighthouses when the upcoming generation of headsets look to do away with lighthouses and external sensors altogether? Inside out tracking is the future here. Once wireless hits, we’ll never go back.

      • Edawg

        We’d want to stay with lighthouses (for now anyway) because the current inside out tracking is likely to be inferior to external sensor tracking of the lighthouses. And likely inferior to even Rift tracking.

        • Bundy

          Well, we don’t know that yet. I think it’s premature to assume that it’s not going to work. You might be right, but there’s no proof of it yet.

          Even still, it is the future. And if it’s not cracked with this generation it will be at some point soon. There’s no point in investing in lighthouses/sensors if we can ditch them.

          BTW Rift tracking is really good, has been for a while now. I’ve never noticed anything off with it since probably last February. I think it’s time to hang up this complaint.

          • Michael

            I agree, the inside-out tracking here is pretty powerful. The only issue I have is with the controllers, so I’d get knuckles just to replace the controllers, otherwise I’d be fine with a Windows headset as it seems for a similar price as perhaps a Rift it’d be a much better bet.

          • Bundy

            Oh I agree about the controllers, those are a step backwards.

          • Spuzzum

            We do know this.. there’s more than a few videos showing how a hand gets stuck out of position when the 2 cameras on the front of the headset lose sight of the leds on the controllers. Pull your hand back behind your head like in archery.. it’s fine as long as it’s only for a second, as there’s built-in software to guesstimate the movement. But.. hold your hand there like you’re waiting to let go of the arrow.. the hand on screen gets stuck in position. They show this in the Cliff House, outside in the sunshine with the player’s shadow. He holds his hand behind his head, holds it there for a few seconds.. then moves it around, while making sure to keep it out of the camera’s view. The hand in the shadow goes all wonky. This may be trivial.. but it definitely happens when playing a shooting game, guns to the left.. while looking to the right. Turn back around to shoot someone.. and your guns aren’t where they’re supposed to be. They glitch into position.. but it takes away from the immersion. They really need 2 or 3 more cameras around the headband.. 1 either side, and 1 on the back. Maybe just 2 near the rear.

            As for working with the lighthouses… I saw a video last night, where buddy said his Vive controllers were working with the Windows headset.. right out of the box. That would require the lighthouses. What I’m curious about.. is if it would work with actual Rift controllers and sensors. No need to emulate the controller.. and it’s already the best controller out there. It’s also only $100 US with 1 sensor, and $60 for each additional sensor.. 2 or 3. The Vive controllers are $130 US.. each, and the base stations are $135 US.. each. Might as well buy a whole Vive at those prices. 😛

      • koenshaku

        That is true, but it doesn’t make lighthouses obsolete at the same time. The reason is that the lighthouses are more robust and will have continued use with full body VR with trackers.

    • Thetrick

      It should just work. Where are you getting from that it wouldn’t work? If it works with steamVR then all you need is the lighthouses and knuckles.

      • Edawg

        That’s what I was thinking…and hoping.

    • TimothyStone

      If the inside-out tracking is good enough for Hololens, it should easily be enough for these headsets.

      Believe it or not, Microsoft is ahead of the rest of the industry, not behind. The concept of lighthouse lasers is going to be dead over time.
      It’s a “nerd setup” and not a setup that your average consumer wants. It may be very accurate, but it’s also very messy and unnecessary.

      The real next generation HMD won’t need wires or won’t need anything external. Also, I expect lighter displays over time.

      • D.L

        Controller tracking is going to continue to be a problem with inside-out headsets, there are always going to be times where they’re going to be occluded from view and the situation will only get worse as the HMD and controllers get smaller. It’s fine for casual use, but the additional tracking data provided from lighthouse beacons would be the most elegant way to allow for more robust tracking in situations where it’s needed. Perhaps it is a “nerd” setup, but that’s also a pretty significant market. Developers and power users would definitely appreciate the extra precision and tracking quality and to average consumers it’d be like getting nice surround speakers installed.

        Alternately, there’s integrating inside out tracking into the controller itself but I doubt that’ll be practical for a while.

  • Courtney A Jeff

    Software is the question for me not hardware.Will these work for existing steam and oculus games? Will they have their own game and app store.If so then really cool.Praise Jesus!

    • Bundy

      Getting rid of the exclusives is necessary for the industry. Hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

  • Courtney A Jeff

    With the Samsung being extremely higher in resolution it seems would be a wiser thing to pay extra and wait.Will their be AR games using these all in one headsets? Like experiencea in the real environment of your surroundings?

  • wheeler

    A lot of OpenVR options on the horizon. If one can purchase the HMD separately (and if the HMD is of good quality but this is where samsung excels), I might be tempted to get the Samsung and use USB dongles for SteamVR controllers. Thanks to OpenVR we can just mix and match the best options from each company.

    But still waiting to see LG’s final rendition of their HMD and whether or not Pimax can fix their peripheral distortion.