Today the Surface event, Microsoft announced a larger push into virtual and augmented reality. The company is starting with a new line of virtual reality headsets. Microsoft is working on these headsets with a host of partners, including HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer. The prices are expected to start at $299.
Microsoft VR headset prototype was shown onstage. The device is still wired, but tracking is inside out, handled by sensors on the headset itself. Unlike the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, the headset tracks without an outside camera or infrared device. This is similar to the Facebook Oculus prototype headset, which is meant to be self-contained.
"Unlike every other virtual reality headset in the market today, there will be zero need for a separate room and complicated setup. While the less immersive VR accessories today cost more than $500, or require a new expensive device, these accessories will start at just $299 and work with affordable laptops and PCs," wrote Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson.
Just because Microsoft is exploring virtual reality doesn't mean the HoloLens is going anywhere. Instead, the HoloLen looks to become a mixed reality device, with augmented reality and a form of virtual reality together in one device. It's also primarily a device for developers at this point, while the VR headsets are aimed at consumers.
The VR headsets from partners seem to be tied to the Windows Creators Update, so it's likely that we'll start seeing them in Spring 2017.