After teasing its plans with a gradual drip of reveals over the past year, Microsoft is finally ready to bring Windows Mixed Reality to the public this fall. During its IFA 2017 keynote today, Microsoft revealed that the first Windows Mixed Reality headsets should be available on October 17, right alongside the Fall Creators Update.
That's good news for anyone who wants to dive into the mixed reality integration Microsoft has packed into the Fall Creators Update. By baking the experience into the Windows itself, Microsoft is hoping to make mixed (and virtual) reality experiences more accessible and, crucially, more affordable. A simultaneous release of hardware and software means Microsoft can also capitalize on the buzz surrounding its efforts. Even if you don't have a headset on hand, however, Microsoft says you can still get involved. A Mixed Reality Viewer will let you superimpose 3D objects over your surroundings with your PC's camera.
As for the headsets themselves, several of Microsoft's major hardware partners have something on deck. Dell, HP, Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer have all announced their own headsets, with pricing starting at $299. That's a relatively affordable starting point to enter into PC-based virtual and mixed reality experiences — especially when compared to other, more expensive VR options on the market. It's not exactly clear from Microsoft's announcement which headsets will be on sale from October 17, but development kits from Acer and Dell have been in the wild already, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them among the first. Lenovo has also confirmed that its headset will arrive in October.
At any rate, we'll soon get our first look at what kind of impact Windows Mixed Reality could have. Content will be a large part of what dictates Microsoft's success here, and there are already some good signs: SteamVR, Minecraft, and Halo have already been confirmed to be coming to the platform. And if our early impressions are any indication, Microsoft could have something big here.