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Microsoft wants VR headsets to run its Windows Holographic OS

Tom Warren
Microsoft wants VR headsets to run Windows

Microsoft is opening up its Windows Holographic operating system to virtual reality headset makers. At Computex today, Microsoft released a demo video of its vision of "mixed reality" where VR headsets can interact with the company's HoloLens, and more. Microsoft demonstrated a concept of its vision for a mixed world of HoloLens and VR headsets, which included a HTC Vive headset. While HTC is working with Microsoft on VR experiences with Windows 10, it's not clear if the company is planning to shift its software over to Windows Holographic.

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Central to Microsoft's vision is allowing VR headset makers to make use of the software and OS that powers HoloLens. At present, most VR headsets can't mix real people and real environments into the virtual world in the same way that Microsoft's augmented reality HoloLens headset can. Microsoft is hoping VR headset makers will take advantage of Windows Holographic to enable its mixed reality capability. That makes Windows Holographic a new platform, and the key part is Microsoft's perception APIs that power a lot of the HoloLens experiences.

VR glasses
Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images

If a VR headset maker opts to use Windows Holographic then things like the Holographic shell (virtual Start menu), user interface, Windows Store, and Xbox Live services will all be available. Microsoft isn't sharing details on exactly how existing VR headsets could integrate Windows Holographic, but the company is working with Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, HTC, Acer, ASUS, Dell, Falcon Northwest, HP, Lenovo, MSI, and others on making Windows Holographic a platform for VR as well as AR.

It appears that no additional hardware will be required for VR headsets to run Windows Holographic, but Microsoft is planning to outline more software and hardware details at a WinHEC developer conference later this year. Microsoft's demonstration is merely a concept right now, but if the company can convince VR headset makers to switch to its operating system, software, and services then it has a key platform for distributing apps and VR content in the future.