Khronos Group, the consortium behind the OpenXR project which aims to standardize the way applications communicate with AR and VR headsets, just added Microsoft to its ranks. Among its count of members, the OpenXR working group consisted of nearly every major player in the industry except Microsoft until now.

By the virtue of its Windows operating system, the basis of which nearly every PC VR headset uses to function, Microsoft joining the OpenXR initiative represents a win for the others involved, which include industry players like Google, Oculus, HTC, AMD, NVIDIA, Epic Games, Unity, Intel, Qualcomm, Sony, Samsung and Valve.

image courtesy Khronos Group

Although guessing at a company’s motives is a bit like reading tea leaves sometimes, Microsoft taking part in building OpenXR makes a strong case for its ultimate interest in growing the open, royalty-free standard, and not trying to create its own internally developed “DirectXR” that would essentially dictate how headsets will talk to their OS. Up until now, it wasn’t clear which way Microsoft was headed.

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Khronos says work on the actual OpenXR project has already begun and that it stands to eliminate market fragmentation by forcing VR applications and engines to be ported and customized to run on multiple VR runtimes, and requiring VR sensors and displays to be integrated with multiple driver interfaces.

There are however two reluctant holdouts left; Apple and Magic Leap, but it remains to be seen what either are bringing to the table.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Apple keep everything in house so no surprise they have not joined. That’s why a Mac compared to its lowly PC equivalent (in hardware specs) seems to run much smoother and need less ram. They control what goes where and write very optimized drivers between hardware and OS, they even write the GPU drivers for Windows Bootcamp. It is frustrating to end users having a tiny upgrade path at high costs but you know the kit you get will be stable. As long as you are not a gamer.

    Magic Leap don’t even have a commercial product yet so I would not expect them to join something when they market their secret as a revolutionary design. Although OpenXR could be a spanner in their delivery now that MS has joined. Chicken and Egg scenario for them.

    • NooYawker

      I love MacOS but I don’t use it because, as you noted, as long as you are not a gamer.. and I am. I can see Apple getting away with their own ecosystem with AR, but if they go with VR, who’s going to comply with them? VR is mostly for gaming.
      Magic Leap.. even if they agreed to join who would care?

      • Aye, I agree. As to Magic Leap, they probably do not want to join now as any suggested changes to the OpenXR standard would give away what their game is. If they are forced by industry to comply with a standard upon release it might make things difficult for them as complying to standards is important in business. Saying that, without knowing what they are doing means nobody cares like you said.

    • Griffin

      apple has joined they are one of the top level members. you dolt

      • Thats the Khronos Group which is the bigger body. OpenXR has members of it’s own and I do not see Apple listed.

  • I’ve made a conscious decision not to go with Apple products any more. They have become something of a designer brand. I don’t expect them to join, but at some point they will observe whatever standards that Open XR comes up with as long as it meets their private standards. Standards that, of course, they will licence out at premium prices. It’s not worth it to me.

  • Apple and…???? :D