Facebook-owned Oculus VR held its big “Step Into The Rift” event on Thursday, where it introduced a monumental new deal with Microsoft as it prepares to launch the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift, its virtual reality headset, early next year.
Not only will the first Oculus Rift come with an Xbox One controller and Xbox adaptor so you can play your Xbox One games through your VR headset, Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced Oculus will support Windows 10 right out of the box.
This partnership is hugely important to both companies, as well as game players and consumers.
For Facebook, this partnership gives Oculus a major gaming platform to live on — the Xbox One. This will be a big reason for developers to build for Oculus, considering the mainstream gaming audience on Xbox.
But the partnership will actually help developers in another way: Since it will support Xbox One controllers out of the box, Oculus developers can target the Xbox controller, which has been an extremely popular layout for over a decade, to build their games on.
“Buttons and analogue sticks are still around for a reason: They’re a great way to interact with complex games, which is critical for lots of different types of genres,” said Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey.
That said, this Oculus partnership is probably most important for Microsoft. Though the Xbox One is extremely popular on its own, working with Oculus will help the two-year-old living room console compete with Sony’s Project Morpheus, a new virtual reality platform coming to the PlayStation 4 next year.
That means both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will support virtual reality in 2016.
But Windows 10 is the real winner here. Last month, Oculus announced the computer requirements for the first-generation Rift, which t0 tally excluded Apple users. The first Oculus Rift will require Windows 7 SP1 or higher, but since it will work natively with Windows 10, hardcore game fans and early adopters will be heavily persuaded to purchase a new Windows computer.
Microsoft knows Windows 10 is a rebranding effort above all; Windows 8 was met with a ton of criticism, and many expect Windows 10 to spark a great migration back to Microsoft’s popular platform.
This will be just one more reason to invest in Microsoft’s hardware, knowing how important it is to make the Oculus Rift work, both now and in the future. With the introduction of the first-generation Rift and the Oculus Touch hand controllers, which will allow for precise manipulation of virtual objects, the hype for virtual reality is at an all-time high.
Microsoft should be thrilled to be along for the ride.