Today Meta made what is likely to be an industry-altering announcement: it plans to open up the Quest operating system to third-party device makers. Asus, Lenovo, and Xbox have been tapped to create new headsets built on the operating system which is being branded ‘Meta Horizon OS’.

Meta has just made its biggest strategic move in the XR space since betting the farm on standalone headsets over PC VR. Today the company says it’s formally branding the Quest operating system as Meta Horizon OS, and with it, plans to allow third-parties to make new headsets that run the software stack.

The company has already confirmed that Asus and Lenovo are building new headsets for Meta Horizon OS. Meta also says it’s collaborating with Microsoft on a “limited-edition Quest” that’s “inspired by Xbox,” surely leaning into the partnership which brought the Xbox Cloud Gaming app to Meta’s existing headsets.

Sharing a common operating system means all of these headsets will be able to draw not only on the XR tech that Meta has built (like tracking, interface, playspace boundary, and more) but also plug into the company’s leading library of standalone VR content. Meta says it’s rebranding its content library to the ‘Meta Horizon Store’.

Meta also says all headsets running Meta Horizon OS will share the same social layer, allowing users to use their existing accounts, avatars, and friends list no matter which of these headsets they choose.

Quest Developers React to Meta Horizon OS & Partner Headset News

It’s unclear at this time if Meta Horizon OS will be openly available to any company that wants to use it, or if Meta will only grant access to select companies.

This strategic move by Meta is no doubt an emulation of the Android model, in which Google offered up its Android operating system for smartphone makers to use with their own hardware. Doing so created a huge variety of smartphones all sharing a compatible software ecosystem which made the collective pool an attractive marketplace for developers—and heaps of cash and market power for Google.

Google and Samsung have been cooking up some kind of headset of their own, and surely have the same play in mind, but in a sense, Meta is beating them to the punch here—with the added irony that Meta Horizon OS itself is based on Android.

With the release of Apple Vision Pro, and now Meta offering up its operating system to third-parties, the comparison to the early smartphone wars of Android vs. iPhone cannot be avoided. Ultimately the fierce competition of that era resulted in a rapid innovation of mobile hardware and software, leading to smartphones being a daily part of nearly every person’s life. Will the same thing happen with XR headsets?

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • impurekind

    What the?

  • NL_VR

    Sounds great

  • If they end up with a better GUI than Meta… I’ll be very jealous.

  • XRC

    The Asus ROG headset sounds interesting; Microsoft should have built an Xbox branded ruggedized WMR headset using Intel wireless technology years ago…

  • Cl

    This is actually pretty good. Excited to see new headsets coming out. I bet google will regret not partnering closer with meta. They said no to bringing android apps to quest right?

    • Ondrej

      Google offered Meta to abandon their own ambitions to become the next big 30% tax tollbooth of apps, but “surprisingly” Meta didn’t like that idea after spending 10 years on that dream.

      Google could be a 2D-only tollbooth on Meta OS, but they prefer to be everything tollbooth – past and future. Understandable.

      Weirdly Microsoft is okay with that. Or there are some bigger deals behind the doors.

  • Nevets

    “…leading to smartphones being a daily part of nearly every person’s life. Will the same thing happen with XR headsets?”

    It could…but only if or when headsets become much smaller, much lighter and much, much more comfortable.

  • ViRGiN

    valve deckard running Meta OS soon???

    • Ondrej

      If Deckard happens it will rather have Steam OS that will offer 1000x more capabilities than either Apple or Meta, just like Steam Deck offers 1000x more capabilities than Playstation, Nintendo or Xbox.

      Obviously 90% of gamers doesn’t care about that, so it’s a minor aspect of Steam Deck.

      However XR is “the final platform” that is supposedly an extension of everything, including laptops and workstations – something that Apple apparently completely forgot seeing as you still need a Mac to do almost anything productive on Vision Pro…

      Now imagine having full PC laptop possibilities in your headset – just add keyboard and mouse and you don’t need a desktop or laptop. If anyone does that (on a relevant scale for consumers) it will be Valve.

      • Hussain X

        There could be a ‘Built for Horizon OS’ headset, specialised for productivity, that runs Windows 365 and connects to PC seamlessly, including Steam, that also does gaming, standalone, PCVR and cloud, as well as run XR and 2D apps. In fact, first party Quest headset will be doing all the above soon on a $500 headset.

        Of course the biggest advantage of Steam OS on Deckard could be that it can run x86 software natively, so won’t be needing a Windows 365 subscription nor access to a connected PC.

      • kakek

        My bet is that valve is still tinkering with VR behind closed doors, but have no plan for a commercial product.
        Their aim would be to produce a mobile headset that can run steam games, with HLA being the standard. So something with the performance of a GTX 980. It’s not possible with the current state of technologie.

  • Star Centurion

    This sounds great, but I don’t really like Meta OS in its current state, even as good as the Quest 3 may be.

    I hope this means improvements soon, or at minimum… all the new sets of eyes that will soon be working w/ Meta OS will have a lot of useful feedback + changes for Meta to act on.

    • MeowMix

      A revamped UI has been in the works for a while now; perhaps a reason we haven’t seen it is because it’ll be part of this new ‘Horizon OS’. Just simmer down yo

  • Zuck just won’t let that horrorshow known as “Horizon” die …. lol
    And now *other* AIOs are gonna be saddled with a shitty UI too, huh …?
    That’s just terriffic ….
    []^ (

  • Ondrej

    Without 3rd party STORES and making the OS open to free market like Windows it won’t really change the game (and no, full of friction “sideloading” doesn’t count).

    Also Microsoft owning the biggest productive and gaming OS of all time should be embracing its own ecosystem’s unique advantages instead of locking itself in Meta’s strict ecosystem.

    The first XR system that can legally run Blender will hopefully win. So far neither Meta, nor Apple can do that. That speaks for itself what kind of “operating systems” they run on these “future of computing” devices.
    Meanwhile Steam Deck can…

    • ViRGiN

      > Meanwhile Steam Deck can…
      Thanks to ultra-low 720p+ resolution, in a handheld oven form factor.

      Apple wants you to get used to tether, Meta opts for all-in-one-no-fuss design.

      All these devices are pure entertainment first, work absolutetly the very last.
      It’s all about input options, like I don’t really ever edit my photos on a tablet or phone, I need mouse & keyboard for that and knowing my software stack well to achieve the most in the least time. Now, a million virtual screens won’t move a needle even a tiny bit, so long as I’m hindered by the physicalities of the headset, big and bulky does not go well with _real_ productivity.

  • Crossing fingers! LOL

  • Mike

    would rather steam release there os with a branch for VR using steam VR for stand alone headsets. pimax would be smart to jump on this for their crystal headsets but imagine a partnership with pimax and steam for stand alone. and of course other headsets as well.

  • ArtB

    Great move!!

  • xyzs

    Good move