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Microsoft's cheaper, lower-spec VR initiative Mixed Reality launches October 17th

Arriving late to virtual reality, Microsoft have rebranded it Windows Mixed Reality et voila, the revolution will begin anew on October 17th. Microsoft have announced that Mixed Reality support will hit Windows 10 in the Fall Creators Update on that day, launching their VR initiative alongside headsets from several companies. Windows Mixed Reality is a term that supposedly will one day encompass both virtual reality and augmented reality (where cyberbits interact with the real world before our eyes), but the launch lineup is all VR headsets starting around £250. They’re not regular cybergoggs, mind, bearing lower system requirements and including built-in sensors that mean you don’t need to set up external sensors for motion controllers. And it’s named Mixed Reality, so it’s clearly different.

Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo will have goggs for the October 17th launch, and Samsung will launch theirs in November. See the lineup this-a-way. Control-wise, MR goggs pack motion control wands (not necessarily included with all models) or Xbox One pads work. The Verge have tried on some of the goggs, if you’re curious what they’re like.

And… Mixed Reality is VR? They’re VR goggles doing those VR things but built to support lower-spec PCs. (If you have the sandmuscle, mind, your PC might qualify for Windows Mixed Reality Ultra status, which makes this confusing name even worse.) MR goggs will work with SteamVR games, meaning a fair library is already available. Check out what our Alec considers the best VR games to get an idea.

The makers of Halo have made a little free doodad named Halo Recruit to dip their toes into the MR cyberwaters too. “Let’s be clear, this isn’t a game or even a part of a game,” 343 Industries say, “it is a light introduction to the world of Halo and some of its most iconic characters… oh, and its weapons and maybe a Warthog. The point is, it was a chance for us to start to play with Microsoft’s amazing new technology…”

Microsoft have also bought the cyberspace social zone AltspaceVR, which launched in 2016 but ran out of money and was shutting down until Microsoft stepped in. Microsoft have also whipped together Cliff House, a VR MR environment which takes the convenience of your Windows desktop and scatters it across a cyberhouse for your inconvenience. You can see that from 9:20 in this demo from yesterday’s event:

What about actual mixed reality that combines the real world with cyber, the technology we know as augmented reality? Microsoft are still working on their HoloLens visor, but the idea is a fair way away from a consumer release. AR is also making a comeback on pocket telephones thanks to Apple’s new ARkit.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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