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Apple once used Windows VR headsets as proof of concept for its board members

HTC Vive 2
HTC Vive 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Apple reportedly used augmented reality and mixed reality prototypes running Windows as a proof of concept for the technology.
  • The early AR and VR devices were reportedly used in a board meeting in 2016 that included former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and then–Disney CEO Bob Iger.
  • Companies often use preexisting technology to create prototypes, and the story does not indicate that Apple would ever ship Windows on a device.

Rumors of augmented reality or virtual reality devices from Apple have been around for years. Reports claimed that the company once had a device planned for release as early as 2019. That headset was delayed several times, and the most recent rumors suggest that Apple may have an AR piece of hardware ready for 2023. But before Apple went too far down its AR journey, the company had to convince its board that the technology was worth spending time and money on.

A report by The Information (opens in new tab) detailed a meeting of Apple board members in 2016 to look at the prospect of augmented reality. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and then–Disney CEO Bob Iger were reportedly in attendance.

According to The Information, the prototype headsets used to show the concept of VR and AR to Apple's board members were far from polished. That isn't surprising or irregular, of course. Prototype devices are about illustrating a concept rather than resembling finished products. Still, the report shared some interesting and funny tidbits about the early days of Apple's AR and VR efforts.

The prototypes were reportedly "cobbled together from off-the-shelf parts" and ran a version of Windows, presumably Windows Mixed Reality. Apple used HTC Vives and other VR headsets as a base for their prototype, according to the article.

At least one of the headsets was apparently so large that Apple had a small crane set up to allow board members to wear the device without hurting their necks. While WMR headsets from 2016 were larger than newer pieces of hardware, a crane would not have been needed for an HTC Vive from that period. Assuming the report is accurate, Apple must have added quite a bit of weight to the headset to justify the use of a crane.

The fact that Apple had hardware running Windows isn't as noteworthy as it may appear at first glance. It makes sense that the company would rely on preexisting hardware and software to show the concept of AR and VR to its board members.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

4 Comments
  • Reminds me of the time that the DirectX team used a PS emulator to sell Bill on their version of what would become Xbox, over the WinCE Team.
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  • And when Apple final releases an AR/VR headset they will tell the world they invented the technology, and some uninformed media will report it like that. 🤣