Microsoft outlines its plans for Windows Mixed Reality

HoloLens inventor and Operating Systems Group Technical Fellow Alex Kipman took to the Microsoft blog to discuss today's announcements and make clear signals that Microsoft is all-in on Mixed Reality.

Kipman detailed a new headset from Samsung, dubbed the HMD Odyssey, the coming of SteamVR to Windows Mixed Reality this holiday season, the acquisition of leading VR social platform AltspaceVR, and the arrival of Halo: Recruit, a VR experience for Halo fans coming on October 17, the same day the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is expected to arrive.

Microsoft also announced that all coming Windows Mixed Reality headsets, from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and now Samsung are all available for preorder.

Windows Mixed Reality headsets combine holographic windows in a virtual space.

Windows Mixed Reality headsets combine holographic windows in a virtual space.

In his blog post, Kipman stated that Mixed Reality is the "next revolution in computing," with the aim of eroding the barrier between the physical and digital worlds:

We are standing at the threshold of the next revolution in computing. A revolution where computers empower us to expand our capabilities and transcend time, space and devices. A revolution where we immerse ourselves in virtual worlds of our choosing and we accomplish seemingly impossible things, while making lasting memories with the people we love.Our sense of what is possible is set to be transformed as we enter a new era of computing, the era of mixed reality. We have started to see this transformation take place in the modern workplace and soon we'll see it in every facet of life. With mixed reality, our ideas move beyond the boundaries of paper, beyond the boundaries of screens, and beyond the boundaries of description. This is the fundamental promise of mixed reality. The barrier that exists between our physical and digital worlds will disappear.

Kipman didn't say today's headsets would lead to this revolution, instead noting that the company intends to "evolve" today's devices and that Redmond will approach Mixed Reality in a holistic way:

We believe we will have to evolve today's devices and experiences to deliver on the promise of mixed reality. Since we introduced the world to mixed reality we have been committed to approaching this revolution in a patient, meaningful and holistic way. To achieve that we continue to:

  • Embrace the entire continuum from augmented reality to virtual reality and everywhere in between.
  • Build cutting edge devices and the technologies that power them, such as HoloLens.
  • Create a unified platform for applications and the services to target.

With Windows we are delivering the only OS designed for the broadest range of inputs from traditional inputs like keyboards and mice, touch and ink, gamepads and our new industry defining motion controllers to now more natural human inputs such as gaze, voice and gestures.

It certainly seems like Microsoft is giving Windows Mixed Reality its full backing rather than the half-hearted approach we've seen the company undertake with other products. The technology that powers these experiences is truly incredible, but Microsoft is already facing an uphill climb against Apple's ARKit, which is already seeing widespread developer adoption in the AR space, and existing VR ecosystems in the gaming space.

For more information on today's announcements, see the links below.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!