In a compatibility test application from recent Windows 10 test builds, Microsoft has revealed some minimum specs for Windows Holographic, the Windows 10 interface and platform for VR and AR devices which will include inexpensive headsets from big manufacturers.

Spotted by The Verge, the ‘Windows Holographic First Run’ application seems to reveal some surprisingly low minimum requirements for AR and VR on Windows compared to what we would call a ‘VR ready’ computer today.

windows-holographic-minimum-requirementsAmong 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.

Back at the company’s announcement Windows 10 Holographic earlier this year, Microsoft did indeed say that the experience would enable “mainstream PCs to run the Windows Holographic shell and associated mixed reality and universal Windows applications” (our emphasis). The company claimed to be running what’s seen in the demo video above at 90 FPS on a tiny Intel NUC with integrated graphics.

To run what Valve, HTC, and Oculus all consider to provide a good experience for most VR software, something like a modern Nvidia GTX 970 and Intel Core i5 4590 is required. Or, with Oculus’ newly announced minimum specs, it can be as low as the Nvidia GTX 960 and Intel Core Core i3 6100. Even compared to those specs, the minimum required to run Windows Holographic would be many times less powerful if we go by this compatibility application. And still, according to what’s stated in Microsoft’s compatibility program, that power should be enough “to play most [Windows Holographic] experiences”.

It’s already very hard to get VR games and applications to run well with the minimum specs for the Rift and Vive. If most experiences on Microsoft’s Holographic platform (which probably means software offered on the Windows Store) only require that much power, then naturally, most of the games and applications already using the Rift or Vive aren’t included in their default lineup. It’s probable, then, that what Microsoft is referring to is a smaller set of “experiences” that aren’t as complex, visually or otherwise in aspects that would require processing power, and closer to something that might be offered on a mobile or console platform.

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From what Microsoft have announced and shown off of Holographic (360 degree video viewing, simple 3D editing in Paint, regular Windows tasks except in a VR environment, etc.) it does seem to be the case that what they might offer by default won’t be the sort of high-end gaming we currently think of when it comes to VR. So perhaps the minimum specs here are misleading, in that the experience you get won’t necessarily compare with the other current PC VR platforms unless you upgrade your specs.

Despite that, Holographic at a minimum would be a good entry point into VR and could provide a solid Windows interface through it. And with the inherent freedom of options available on the PC, it can evolve into a platform that includes a wide variety of devices with software to impress.

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  • DiGiCT Ltd

    Those minimum specs are based on AR as it does not need to render all what you see, most is just a video trough or see trough glasses.
    This reduces dramatically GPU requirements.
    However CPU will be still needed a lot to do the CG tracking.
    1 character model walking in you real world environment does not use much GPU.

    That’s simply how you could see low specs or just a 2d gui into 3d world space requires nearly nothing.

  • Adrian Meredith

    its not that impressive considering phones can also do vr and are many times weaker than a desktop

  • Firestorm185

    Um, the CPU for min spec doesn’t have two “core”s in it’s name, correct? Just making sure. Other than that, this is some pretty fantastic info!

  • Yes, but we have to see if that specs are enough for the content. We know that VR should go at 90FPS and we don’t want to use it to play Minesweeper

  • Max Cheung

    It will be cheap because it is not for gaming

  • PrymeFactor

    “it does seem to be the case that what they might offer by default won’t be the sort of high-end gaming we currently think of when it comes to VR”

    There are only a handful of titles on Vive or Rift that can be considered ‘high end gaming’.

  • Armando Tavares

    I foretold a few months ago that ‘some’ hardware giant could easily blow up Oculus/Vive because, as I saw it, Oculus/Vive overthought and overdid the concept at THAT point in time. This was before anyone knew Microsoft+partners was getting into VR.

    Then came Microsoft announcing devices as cheap as 300$ and I said the same thing again (of course).

    At both times people said I was wrong and I suspect that, even now, as news/evidence pile up, people will again.

    Cheaper devices+lower spec/older computers=trouble for Oculus/Vive.

    Doesn’t matter how hard Oculus/Vive fan boys and companies that already have money into Oculus/Vive content development wish this away because it is here to stay and we all have Microsoft (from all companies) to thank for. And we SHOULD thank them.

    I’m REALLY glad this came from where it did (MIcrosoft+Asus+Acer+HP+Lenovo+Dell) because any of those companies is WAY too large to be bought and their devices buried by deep pockets Oculus (Facebook).

    Fan boys still hang on one small thread of hope: Whatever Microsoft+partners are doing wont be suited for ‘gaming’, because, how could it??? Right?

    You have to realize a few things:
    1. I’m sure whatever Microsoft+partners are developing to sell at the 300$ price point wont be as good as Oculus/Vive. But will that really matter??
    2. ‘Gaming’ is FAR MORE (FAR MORE!!!!!) then playing EVE with 500 ships on screen at 120 FPS and max graphics.
    3. VR will be FAR MORE then whatever you understand as ‘gaming’ (see point 2).

    Another believe (no tracking) got obliterated already: These will have six-degree-of-freedom tracking system and I have a very strong feeling that in months to come also the ‘this wont be suited for gaming’ believe will be shattered.
    It may not be suited for the same games (i’ll give you that) but dismiss these devices as non gaming is, I believe, a mistake.

    • Get Schwifty!

      I think it’s more appropriate to think of MS as another player from a different angle. Not sure why you are convinced this somehow rings a death-knell for Vive/Rift as we are talking different setups and the article points this out. Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased to see that MS has an interest in AR/VR, with a focus on AR which may be a big reason why the reported specs are less. I would also say that at this point I am not convinced MS is as serious about quality and specs (think Windows and you don’t really think of quality first).

      Let’s address your points:

      1. At $300 the quality will be in the PSVR range, probably without controllers, room scale or some kind of tracking outside of an HMD. Is it enough in the market? We’ll see. I think it will have a place, but MS seems more focused on AR, and I personally think $300 is the bottom end; expect better setups costing more in the range of Rift/Vive because even they don’t deliver the quality ultimately needed,

      2. I think we all know that, not sure what forums you peruse but it’s pretty clear the common R2VR poster plays more than EVE, in fact I would say EVE is pretty much regarded as a interesting initial “wow” experience, but people don’t do much more with it and its certainly not a benchmark experience.

      3. Again, the majority of VR enthusiasts here clearly see that… I think everyone is keenly aware that VR is not limited to gaming, BUT I think you are missing the equal point that there is no denying entertainment is (like most computing in the consumer space) split between entertainment and productivity, so gaming/entertainment is vital to acceptance.

      Not sure why you think MS will own this market, it’s a bit strange of a position, and while MS is making strides, it’s mostly a marketing play at this point. As for a hardware giant, we are after all talking about HTC on the Vive side, they are far more a hardware company than MS or FB/Oculus. Will MS be a major player? Probably, but if you think it will be by pushing a cheap solution that their partnerships connive to undercut the market I suspect you are incorrect. Will they “own” the business and engineering markets? Maybe, but again unless they go for a “platform” play to lock out Oculus and Valve/HTC, then there is no reason people won’t consider those platforms, and it could very well backfire on them given the exposure those platforms already have in the market and on the phone side with Gear.
      Given the problems MS has had in the past with anti-trust, I seriously doubt they will attempt to go down that path, rather they will help establish standards, API’s etc. that will allow vendors like HTC/Oculus to utilize. I personally expect AR to be the dominant play for Apple and MS, who are more or less ceding the full virtual experience to Oculus and Vive as more nichey, smaller volume experiences in the next decade or so.

      • Armando Tavares

        Long answer to address. I’ll keep it as simple as possible (I tend to rant a bit ^_^)

        I don’t think whatever MS is doing WILL BE the end of Oculus/Vive. But I do think it has a very high potential of forcing those two companies to rethink several aspects of their business models.
        So I might say MS may end Oculus/Vive business models as we know them at present time.

        1. If the 300$ device is at least as good as PSVR, AND usable on lower end computers, how can that NOT be good enough?
        As to MS not being that interested in VR I think these news kinda disproves that? MS did make a strong bet in AR but this partnership is clearly a decision to correct the previous course or at the very least, be a serious player in both areas.

        Regarding quality: Even if you believe MS isn’t serious about quality (and I disagree with you on that one), MS is only a part of this equation. What makes you think ASUS, HP, LENOVO, DELL, ACER will produce ‘garbage’ equipment just because MS isn’t, as you see it, serious about quality?

        2. I only wanted to address how narrow minded the so often «This isn’t suited for gaming.» remark is.
        I pointed out EVE just as an example. Not performance benchmark or VR experience wise. People usually have this narrow minded concept about gaming and forget that GAMING is everything that sits between EVE and Pong (again, just examples).
        All you can say after that is that you don’t want to play ‘Pong’ in this kind of device (and I respect that) but not that it isn’t suited for gaming. At best, it isn’t suited for the kind of gaming YOU expect from it.

        3. Agreed.Gaming/entertainment is vital to acceptance indeed.

        MS (or some one else) will end up owning the market because Oculus/Vive will give it away. I believe both built their devices on a flawed vision that will result on some one else owning the market.
        But I may, or course, be wrong.

        Oculus has little experience when it comes to hardware and HTC can’t compete with the combined experience of HP, Dell, Asus, Lenovo and Acer. MS may be more interested in the software part (naturally) but make no mistake about it, partners (HP, Dell, Asus, Lenovo and Acer) will come down on the hardware part of the business like a pack of hungry wolfs.

        Will Oculus/Vive, at that point in time, be well established/strong enough to withstand the onslaught? I think it will come down to how long MS+Partners take to get devices to the consumer market. The longer they take, the better chance Oculus/Vive have.

        Two things I strongly disagree with you:
        1. «Will MS be a major player? Probably, but if you think it will be by pushing a cheap solution that their partnerships connive to undercut the market I suspect you are incorrect.»

        Why is the solution, cheap? Cheap compared to what? Oculus/Vive? Maybe Oculus/Vive are expensive. Ever thought about that?

        2. «I personally expect AR to be the dominant play for Apple and MS, who are more or less ceding the full virtual experience to Oculus and Vive as more nichey, smaller volume experiences…»

        Maybe I’m not understanding what you said correctly but, VR is nichey and smaller volume experiences?? Is that it?? I’m sorry to say but It seems to me the be exact opposite.

        Mehhh….. long post (another one). I did warn :)


  • Good, I keep being asked to produce content for Mobile VR which I would rather not. Desktop VR with better interaction is what I want to do.