Today Microsoft announced that developers in the US and Canada can now pre-order the Acer ($299) and HP ($329) Mixed Reality headsets from the Microsoft Store. Delivery of the headsets is scheduled for August 2017.
In October, Terry Myerson, Microsoft executive VP of Windows and Devices announced that the company had partnered with HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and Acer to make VR headsets a part of the new Windows 10 Creator’s Update.
“These headsets will be the first and only to ship with inside-out, 6-degrees of freedom sensors. Unlike every other VR headset on the market today, it means there’ll be zero reason for a separate room, zero need for a complicated setup, and while those less immersive accessories today cost over $500—most of the time requiring a new, expensive device, we are announcing today that these Creator’s Update accessories start at just $299,” said Myerson.
The ‘Windows Holographic First Run’ application, a sort of pre-check to see if your computer can actually run one of Window’s headsets, revealed some surprisingly low minimum requirements for AR and VR on Windows compared to what we would call a ‘VR ready’ computer today. Combined with the relative low cost in comparison to a high-end gaming PC, Microsoft is aiming to quickly build a large audience of Windows VR headsets, and more importantly, a large userbase.
Among other things, these specs imply a PC that could be running with hardware as low as the 2009 AMD Anthlon II series (some have 4 cores) and 2010 Nvidia GT 400 series (some support DX12). And what that means is a very cheap PC, that may also be ancient by today’s standards. If these specs are all that’s required to run Windows Holographic, even many lower-end laptops should work, compared to what would be required for an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
Because of this low-end PC approach, Microsoft is focusing on providing applications like Cliff House, an app that’s meant to showcase the Windows operating system as imagined in virtual reality. According to Principal Program Manager Brandon Bray, Cliff House allows you to place and arrange your apps around the space where you can create a number of customized areas like a gaming basement, a productivity room or an entertainment hub on the balcony overlooking a mountainous landscape—essentially mirroring the HoloLens usecase of choosing which Windows apps you want to use and sticking them around your house.
You can now pre-order Acer ($299) and HP ($329) headsets directly from the Microsoft Store. They won’t include the motion controllers shown earlier today however, but the Acer VR headset will be offered as a bundle with controllers for $399 some time around the holiday season.
The Microsoft Store has now updated the store for Acer and HP headset pre-orders.