Microsoft Mixed Reality to get support for SteamVR, Minecraft and Halo starting this holiday season


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Sep 11, 2013

Today at IFA in Berlin, Germany Microsoft is announcing a new entry-level tier for mixed reality, as well as a blockbuster partnership with SteamVR. Additionally, Minecraft and soon Halo will be virtual too.

Microsoft's Mixed Reality initiative is in some ways an undefined area of computingthat is slowly coming into focus. Microsoft today is making some big waves with the immersive Windows 10 experience coming this holiday season including revisions to hardware requirements and some huge partnerships that will drive the gaming aspect to potentially millions of new users.

It should not be shocking that Microsoft is leveraging 343 Studios – the group behind Halo – but it is now official (even if still early). Moreover, Steam VR will also be a part of Windows Mixed Reality and Minecraft as well.

Democratizing virtual reality – A tale of two PC tiers
Arguably one of the biggest barriers to authentic, immersive virtual and mixed reality experiences is the price. There is a reason why something akin to Samsung VR exists – it's cheap. Microsoft is taking a similar approach to its mixed reality attempts by offering two tiers for PC requirements:
  • Windows Mixed Reality PCs: will consist of desktops and laptops with integrated graphics. When plugged into these devices, our immersive headsets will run at 60 frames per second.

  • Windows Mixed Reality Ultra PCs: will consist of desktops and laptops with discrete graphics. When plugged into these devices, our immersive headsets will run at 90 frames per second.
Currently, Windows Mixed Reality exists with the requirement of a high-end dedicated graphics card, but that all changes later this year. Soon, standard Ultrabook and low-end PCs (starting at $499) will be able to partake in the experience as well with just standard Intel HD graphics.

No more will virtual and mixed reality experiences be relegated to only those who can afford top-tier gaming PCs. Likewise, there is no clumsy setup with just two plugs – HDMI and USB 3.0 – being required versus wall mounted sensors. Microsoft is pushing the idea that its mixed and virtual reality solution is completely portable running on most laptops without sophisticated gear.

Pricing of head-mounted displays (HMDs) from Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo for Windows Mixed Reality start at just $299 with packages including the two new hand motion controllers starting at $399.

Greg Sullivan, Director at Microsoft, explained that Microsoft is interested in doing to virtual reality what it did with the personal computer. By leveraging its manufacturing partners, making it global and affordable, anyone who has a basic PC can get in on the experience. Indeed, Microsoft may have issues with hardware distribution in many countries, but its partners like Dell or Acer do not.

Steam VR, Minecraft, and Halo coming to Windows 10 Mixed Reality
Perhaps the biggest news being revealed today is Microsoft's partnership with Steam VR. Although the partnership is still early on Windows users will soon be able to download and play the same virtual reality games from Steam that's playable on HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

I already played a few such titles including:
Certainly, more games will be announced later this fall as well, but the "porting" to Windows Mixed Reality appears to require very little from developers.

Joe Ludwig of Valve remarked about the new partnership with Microsoft:

"The introduction of Windows Mixed Reality headsets is big step forward for VR. Working with Microsoft to include SteamVR compatibility with these devices is also a big step in growing VR as an open platform for developers and consumers. With a broad range of hardware options available from leading PC manufacturers, the Steam community will have more choice than ever to experience the amazing potential of VR."
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Hiding in your WiFi 🙃
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Sep 11, 2013
in front of a screen
Halo and AR should just be a Halopedia version of Forzavista. Or your own personal/customizable AI...of course with Cortona, Roland, or other semi famous AI from the lore.
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Sep 14, 2013
This is absolutely HUGE news today, coming out of Microsoft's camp!

Why is this huge? For starters, 343i is confirmed to be working on Halo VR, something which was only rumored, and only ever mentioned as like a testing phase.

The biggest part of this though, is absolutely the collaboration with Valve! Now, all of the sudden, from OS to games, you have one consistent platform. Could they also partner with Oculus? I don't think this would be a huge surprise, given their past partnership. All of the sudden, they have become a key player in VR, because now they are the bridge that makes everything work together! Very awesome!

Halo and AR should just be a Halopedia version of Forzavista. Or your own personal/customizable AI...of course with Cortona, Roland, or other semi famous AI from the lore.
I'm pretty sure that someone within Microsoft MUST be working on a true Cortana interface for AR/MR, and I'll bet that this is completely independent of what 343i is working on, which will be VR- based.