windows mixed reality, microsoft

On stage at the Build 2017 developer conference, Microsoft today took center stage to announce that they were finally opening pre-orders for their Windows Mixed Reality (MR) developer kits from Acer and HP. You will be able to order these MR kits directly from the Windows Store right away, while the delivery is scheduled for summer later this year.

Back in October, Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive VP of Windows and Devices Group announced that the Redmond giant has partnered with a cohort of hardware makers, such as HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus and Acer to build its VR headsets. This was Microsoft’s initial step into virtual reality since it had only been promoting augmented reality (AR) through its HoloLens for quite some time. It recently also revealed the minimum requirements for the headset, which is as under:

  • CPU: Intel Mobile Core i5 (e.g. 7200U) Dual-Core with Hyperthreading equivalent
  • GPU: Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 620 (GT2) equivalent or greater DX12 API Capable GPU
  • RAM: 8GB+ Dual Channel required for integrated graphics
  • HDMI: HDMI 1.4 with 2880  x 1440 @ 60 Hz
    HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.3+ with 2880 x 1440 @ 90 Hz
  • Storage: 100GB+ SSD (Preferred) / HDD
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 and above for accessories

These headsets, Myerson had then said, will be the first in the industry to ship with inside-out, 6-degrees of freedom sensors. What it at the time was that you wouldn’t require additional sensors to map your location in the surroundings, the VR headsets were capable of the same. The functionality of these headsets, however, has been upgraded at the Build 2017 conference.

Microsoft has announced that the Windows Mixed Reality developer kits will come bundled with a mixed reality headset, along with a shiny new set of motion controllers. Yes, you did hear me exactly right. The Redmond giant has debuted its own motion controllers at the Build conference — currently ongoing in Seattle. Just like the headsets, they will also feature six degrees of freedom and external sensors built into the front of the headset can detect them.

Both HP and Acer mixed reality headset devkits feature LCD displays which are less expensive as compared to the OLED displays used in Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive. Thus, the smoothness and comfortability of expensive VR headsets may be missing in these but it will surely help popularize virtual/mixed reality among the masses. There is currently also expected to be a dearth of content for the said headsets but that’s the primary reason for making it available to developers.

As for the pricing, Microsoft has revealed that the Windows Mixed Reality developer kit from Acer will cost $299, while the one from HP will see you shell out $329.

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