Want an Xbox VR headset? You will be able to get one soon, sort of.

Mock of a device similar to the Meta Quest inspired by Xbox
Microsoft and Meta will work together to create a Meta Quest inspired by Xbox, though this image from Meta is not of an actual product render. (Image credit: Meta)

What you need to know

  • Meta just announced that the operating system that powers its popular virtual reality headsets will be available to other manufacturers.
  • Microsoft, ASUS, and Lenovo are among the manufacturers that will produce devices running Meta Horizon OS.
  • Meta and Microsoft will work together to create a limited-edition Meta Quest that's inspired by Xbox.
  • Microsoft and Meta already partnered together to get Xbox Cloud Gaming to work on Meta Quest, allowing Game Pass subscribers to stream games to the VR headset. 

Virtual reality enthusiasts have clamored for Microsoft and its Xbox team to embrace VR for years. Now, an Xbox-inspired Meta Quest is on the way. That's not the news VR fanatics who love Xbox may want to hear, but at least there will be a mixed reality headset with Xbox branding in the future.

Meta has worked on creating standalone virtual reality experiences for a decade, and now the company wants to expand the range of devices using Meta software. Meta Horizon OS takes the augmented reality and virtual reality technology Meta has made for its Meta Quest headsets and makes it available to other manufacturers. Microsoft, ASUS, and Lenovo are the first companies confirmed to have headsets on the way that will run Meta Horizon OS.

Before you get excited, there's no indication that the Xbox-inspired Meta Quest will deliver an augmented reality version of Halo or let you mix reality with your favorite Forza track. Meta highlighted its partnership with Microsoft to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to Meta Quest, which allows people to play games on the large virtual screens provided by the headset. That will presumably be a major part of the Xbox connection of the soon-to-be-released Meta Quest inspired by Xbox.

Microsoft and Meta Quest

Meta Quest 3

Xbox Cloud Gaming and Microsoft's Office apps are available on Meta Quest 3. (Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Meta's announcement confirmed that a limited-edition Meta Quest that is "inspired by Xbox" is on the way. But apart from a short snippet, we don't have many details of what that headset will look like or how it will be different than the Meta Quest 3 or any other available headset.

"Xbox and Meta teamed up last year to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) to Meta Quest, letting people play Xbox games on a large 2D virtual screen in mixed reality. Now, we’re working together again to create a limited-edition Meta Quest, inspired by Xbox," said Meta.

I speculate that the Xbox-inspired Meta Quest will feature some green accents and come with a trial of Game Pass. Meta didn't hint toward that, but it's quite common for hardware to come with a Game Pass trial, so it only seems natural that a Meta Quest inspired by Xbox would serve as an entry point for game streaming and the other perks of Game Pass.

The photo shared by Meta (shown above) is not a render of an actual product, so the Xbox-inspired Meta Quest could look different.

Microsoft killed Windows Mixed Reality last year, and to be honest the platform was on life support for a while before that. But the tech giant has embraced Meta Quest increasingly over the last year. Xbox Cloud Gaming made its way to Meta's mixed reality headsets in 2023 and you can even use Microsoft's Office applications on Meta Quest.

Embracing Meta Quest allows Microsoft to have a presence in virtual and mixed reality without having to invest as heavily as it did to maintain Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens. Meta can do all the heavy lifting and even make an operating system other manufacturers can use. Then Microsoft can make its most popular apps and services available on that platform.

Xbox, Arm, and Meta Quest

Meta Quest 3

Meta Quest 3 runs on a Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 processor, which is an Arm chip. (Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

At the moment, Microsoft supports Meta Quest by having Xbox Cloud Gaming available on Meta's mixed reality headsets. There's no native way to play Xbox games on Meta Quest, but perhaps there could be a future in which an Arm-powered Meta Quest headset can play Xbox games.

2024 is the year of Arm computing, thanks in large part to the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processors that will ship later this year. PC makers are taking Arm  seriously, and we expect to see a Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 powered by Arm chips in the near future.

But it's not just Qualcomm's chips that could advance Arm computing. In fact, the next evolution of Arm chips may involve company's other than Qualcomm. Qualcomm's license is set to expire this year, opening a path for Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD to make Arm processors. Notably, AMD partners with Microsoft to make chips that power Xbox consoles.

Microsoft is rumored to have interest in using Arm processors to power Xbox hardware. Perhaps there's a chance we could see Arm make another gaming leap into powering Xbox games on Meta Quest or a future mixed reality headset from Meta? Right now emulation is needed to run x86 programs on an Arm processor, but Qualcomm has shown that's possible by playing Baldur's Gate 3 at 30 FPS through emulation.

Of course, these are more dreams based on emerging technologies than anything confirmed to be on the way. We'll have to wait to see what Microsoft and Meta create when forming a Meta Quest inspired by Xbox.

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.

  • Phyzzi
    This announcement (not the article here but the Meta post) was a huge puff of smoke that should have been exciting but ended up inevitably disappointing. In fact, the more I mull over it, the more I feel as if the announcements in the post would have been more exciting on their own. If Meta actually makes the OS or interfacing with Meta content open source, that would be exciting, but right now what's been announced just means having some obvious and frankly limited partnerships in big tech, which is a long way from "open" by any standard but Apple's.

    I am a little interested to see what kind of "pro gamer" headset comes from other partnerships, but it would have been interesting on its own and there would have been no sense of a bait and switch on the promise of "openness" that only seems to apply to existing contractors so far. If Meta actually puts out the code as open source for everyone, I'll take it back, but even then I think they should not have announced before being willing to publish the code.