Windows Mixed Reality

Windows Mixed Reality gets real with SteamVR support, exclusive Microsoft games

Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform is finally starting to take shape. The platform’s software foundation was introduced in Windows 10 Creators Update in April 2017, and the Fall Creators Update has added some much needed polish. The hardware has caught up to the software with the release of a number of first-generation Windows Mixed Reality headsets from companies such as HP, Lenovo, and Dell. While they are just the first in a long line of Windows Mixed reality headsets, they offer a taste of what we can expect from Mixed Reality going forward.

Windows Mixed Reality is really just (mostly) VR

Microsoft prefers the term “mixed reality,” or MR, and the company’s short definition of it is this.

“Mixed reality is the result of blending the physical world with the digital world.”

Rather than just adding artificial elements to a real scene as with augmented reality (AR), or creating a completely artificial environment as with virtual reality (VR), MR takes reality, digitizes it, and then places all or parts of it into a holographic environment that mimics the real world in real time. MR can be wholly immersive, or it can physically blend with a real-world view.

The following Microsoft video helps demonstrate the concept.

When we spent some time with the Acer Mixed Reality Headset, however, we found it to provide a more affordable VR experience, but to be lacking in actual MR functionality. Microsoft response about this was:

“While the upcoming Windows Mixed Reality headsets are closer to the full digital end of the spectrum, they do begin to incorporate elements of the physical world, such as environmental awareness and full 6DoF hand input via motion controllers. Furthermore, Windows Mixed Reality is a unified platform that spans the entire spectrum, enabling the upcoming headsets to elegantly interface with devices closer to the physical reality end of the spectrum, such as Microsoft HoloLens. Our vision has been clear from the start, and this is why we call all of it Windows Mixed Reality.”

In other words, the term “Windows Mixed Reality” includes everything from HoloLens, to apps like Windows Reality Viewer (previously called View 3D), to the upcoming Windows Mixed Reality headsets, all built on the Windows Mixed Reality software foundation. For the immediate future, Windows Mixed Reality refers to those headsets and the apps that are written to utilize them, but don’t be fooled, these are VR headsets first and foremost.

Find out more in the official article.