Windows 'Mixed Reality' VR headsets will hit the Xbox One and Project Scorpio next year

Microsoft is spreading the love with its mixed reality platform and will bring it to its consoles in 2018.

Windows VR headsets want to invade your living room, too. Microsoft says it will bring its mixed reality technology to the Xbox One and the upcoming Project Scorpio console in 2018.

The company made the announcement during the Game Developers Conference (GDC) on Wednesday. “Windows Mixed Reality experiences will light up on other devices over time...Our plan is to bring mixed reality content to the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio, in 2018,” the company said in a blog post.

“Windows Mixed Reality” is Microsoft’s new name for the “Windows Holographic” platform, but the technology is more generally known as augmented reality. Project Scorpio, a more powerful, 4K-capable version of the Xbox, is expected to roll out in late 2017.

While the company didn’t explicitly state this, presumably third-party mixed reality headsets that are headed to Windows 10 PCs for the massive Creators Update will work on the Xbox and Project Scorpio. Both the Xbox One and PCs use various iterations of Windows 10 that can run Universal Windows (UWP) Apps. That should make headset hardware compatibility a non-issue.

Also during GDC, Microsoft introduced Acer’s mixed reality headset. Early versions of that headset are rolling out to developers soon. Microsoft said in January that early versions of mixed reality headsets would ship to developers in March.

The headsets are expected to be publicly available later in 2017, once the Creators Update rolls out this spring. It’s not clear if the devices will be available on day one, however.

What’s even less clear is how virtual reality and mixed reality will roll out to Project Scorpio. The future Xbox is set to get “mixed reality” in 2018, but the console is also supposed to be capable of virtual reality (VR) at launch. Will Scorpio owners be waiting until 2018 to get VR and mixed reality via third-party headsets?

Possibly, but one theory Paul Thurrott floated is that these upcoming mixed reality headsets could be used for VR on Project Scorpio on launch day, then the mixed reality capability will come later via an over-the-air update in 2018. That's just speculation—but it seems to make sense. 

The story behind the story: Whatever Microsoft decides to do with the Xbox One and Project Scorpio, it’s likely many console owners will jump at the chance to buy a VR headset and/or other mixed reality accessories. In late February, Sony announced it had sold 915,000 PlayStation VR headsets since they rolled out in mid-October.

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Ian Paul

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