Fresh from pulling out of the music-streaming market via a partnership with Spotify, Microsoft has announced the next moves in its quest to be a big player in ‘mixed reality’ – devices that blend augmented and virtual reality technology.
Microsoft is opening up pre-orders for the first batch of Windows Mixed Reality headsets, with five devices from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung on offer.
The latter is called the Samsung HMD Odyssey, and was officially unveiled yesterday. The $499 device is a higher-end version of the company’s Gear VR – so more of a direct competitor for Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive and Sony’s PlayStation VR. The Odyssey will go on sale on 6 November, in good time for the pre-Christmas buying season.
Microsoft is also working with digital games store Steam to help developers port their VR games and apps across to Windows headsets, while it’s also releasing a VR mini-game based on its Xbox franchise Halo on 17 October, to show off its technology.
Finally, Microsoft has acquired social-VR startup AltspaceVR, months after the company announced it was shutting down due to business challenges. The startup had 35,000 monthly active users, so was very much a niche.
But with Facebook firmly focused on social features for VR, Microsoft now has a team geared up to explore the same area.