With nascent Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the company is heading in a new, unified direction. The objective: create a cohesive Windows ecosystem across all devices. Whether you’re using Windows on a PC, a Surface tablet, an Xbox One or a Windows Phone device — Microsoft wants you to be able to access your content. It’s accomplishing this goal with the next version of its veteran operating system, Windows 10.
And this is the simplified approach Microsoft is applying to the next step in computing as well: virtual reality.
When Facebook’s VR solution, the Oculus Rift, launches in early 2016, your Windows 10 computer will be ready to go (The Oculus Rift needs a PC to run). Simply plug in the Oculus Rift and Windows 10 will know what’s going on. That same notion applies to VR headsets from the likes of HTC/Valve and, of course, Microsoft’s own “mixed reality” headset, HoloLens.
In short, Microsoft wants Windows 10 to be the destination for next-generation computing experiences. It wants to be the company that facilitates your first experiences with virtual reality, augmented reality, and “mixed” reality (a blend of actual reality and computer-assisted reality, like Google Glass) — what many see as the next step in how humans interact with computers.
Microsoft’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, told Business Insider a few basic ways the company is unifying disparate headsets under the banner of Windows 10:
- Headsets will be supported “natively,” meaning that they’re recognised and accounted for by Windows 10. Currently, these headsets show up as monitors and must be calibrated to work with your computer. It’s a big hassle! Thankfully, this should help circumvent the hassle.
- Since all these headsets require some form of body/head tracking, and they all solve that issue in different ways, Windows 10 will unify tracking. It’s not clear exactly how this will work, but it doesn’t sound like Oculus VR’s tracking solution (cameras) will stand in for HTC/Valve’s (lasers). Instead, it seems to be a solution for developers — one pipeline of tracking information across various headsets.
Unlike Sony, which is focusing on supporting one headset (Project Morpheus) on its PlayStation 4 game console, Microsoft isn’t taking a console-focused approach to VR and AR headsets. Instead, the company is focusing on Windows 10 — the next version of its popular operating system, which launches for free on July 29th. This approach encompasses a variety of devices, from standard home desktop PCs to the Xbox One itself.
That means, however minimally, that even the Xbox One game console is going to support a variety of next-generation computing headsets, from the Oculus Rift to Microsoft’s own HoloLens headset.
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