Microsoft today announced that the company will be bundling its Windows VR headsets and motion controllers, and making them available for purchase this holiday season starting at $400. Revealed by Alex Kipman, HoloLens’ chief inventor and technical lead, a “variety” of headsets and motion controllers will be available by end of year from HP, Lenovo, Dell, and Acer.

The reference design, which all of these headsets are based on, feature inside-out tracking, meaning you won’t need external sensors like with Oculus Rift or HTC Vive for room-scale interactions. With the addition of motion controllers, which are optically-tracked by the headsets’ onboard cameras, Microsoft’s PC VR platform hypothetically has the same basic ability as the two previously mentioned headsets. Despite an initial focus of on media consumption over hard core gaming thanks to the headsets’ ability to run basic apps on computers using integrated graphics, the platform’s inclusion of motion controllers, the ability to play VR content from Steam, and a new subset of special ‘Mixed Reality Ultra PCs’ has changed the headsets’ potential usecase considerably.

“When it comes to deciding which hardware is right for you, we know that our customers value choice in brand, industrial design, and features,” said Kipman. “That is why we created Windows Mixed Reality as a platform for you to enjoy experiences across multiple devices that meet your mobility and performance needs.”

Notably, the Windows VR headsets all more or less come in around 350g in weight, which is about 200g lighter than the Vive and 100g lighter than Rift. In a hands-on with Acer’s developer edition, Road to VR contributor and community designer for Rec Room Shawn Whiting said he “didn’t notice any screen door effect and text looked very legible. The downside of the Acer’s visuals are its field of view and lens quality.” As for its inside-out tracking, Whiting says the headset was “quite solid in all of my demos. I did experience the occasional tiny jitter in the headset’s tracking, but nothing major.”

We recently got a hands-on with the Windows motion controllers, which Road to VR Executive Editor Ben Lang says still presents some outstanding reliability issues when it comes to tracking. Check out the hands-on here.

Since the Vive’s permanent price slash down to $600, and the Rift’s temporary cut to $400 (including Touch), new entrants into VR will have plenty of testing and demos to do to figure out which headset is right for them. We’ll be taking a deeper dive into specs in the coming weeks to give you a good idea of what headset to buy this holiday season, so check back then. In the meantime, check out our deep dive reviews on HTC ViveOculus Rift and Oculus Touch.

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Microsoft’s proposed line-up also includes VR headsets from Asus and Chinese manufacturer 3Glasses, however the company makes no mention of the two in regards to holiday motion controller bundles.

Windows VR Headsets: Basic Specs

  • Two high-resolution LCDs at 1440 x 1440
  • 2.89” diagonal display size (x2)
  • Front hinged display
  • 95 degrees horizontal field of view
  • Display refresh rate up to 90 Hz (native)
  • Built-in audio out and microphone support through 3.5mm jack
  • Single cable with HDMI 2.0 (display) and USB 3.0 (data) for connectivity
  • Inside-out tracking
  • 4.00m cable
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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.
  • GigaSora

    Hopefully when xbox releases their headset, we won’t have to deal with exclusive games around 4 different platforms. That would be a little crazy.

    • Joe Black

      It would be quite unfortunate if xbox launches its own proprietary headset and not just support these ones.

      • RFC_VR

        but imagine the possibility for a gaming specific Xbox One X HMD also suitable for Windows 10 PC ;)

        Tetherless, peripheral adapters and motion tracked controllers, computer vision roomscale tracking, battery good for hours – made a little higher quality / tougher for hardcore gaming with proper optical adjustments and hydrophilic face cushion

        • Joe Black

          As long as it’s compatible with PC and XBox they can make anything from low quality to high quality headsets and they will all sell well, higher sales volumes, lower prices. Mainstream.

          And maybe even available after all said and done in South Africa for a change.

          That’s all that’s important. If another PC 6dof VR HMD fails to officially be sold and supported in SA I’m going to be one sad panda.

    • David Herrington

      I agree with Joe, since Xbox One essentially runs on Windows 10, there is no reason to expect these headsets to not function with Xbox One or at least Xbox One X.

      • 12Danny123

        Yes it’ll support Windows MR. But unlikely to support SteamVR on Xbox

  • Joe Black

    Any news on which countries they will be sold in?

  • jaykel

    Hmm, strictly VR by the looks of them? Kinda holding out for AR/Mixed nowadays.

  • David Herrington

    My prediction is that Xbox One X will support Windows VR headsets and motion controllers! The release dates are too close to be coincidental!

  • MosBen

    The release of these HMDs and the downward pressure that we’re seeing on price is a good thing. That said, as much as I enjoy my Rift it’s the next generation that is going to be where things get interesting. Sure, the farther we go down the timeline the better the graphics will get, the wider the field of view will be, etc., but I’m pretty confident that the 2nd generation is when companies will have really figured out the comfort angle, which will mean lighter, more comfortable, wireless HMDs at an affordable price and with non-crazy system requirements and/or working with mainstream consoles. While the enthusiasts like myself will always want to really see what the top of the line is capable of, a general consumer just wants something that provides a decent experience with relatively few bumps in the road, like tripping on cables, etc.

  • Muzufuzo

    I was so happy and then I saw “95 degrees horizontal field of view”. Samsung Gear VR has 96 but is much cheaper. At least these two displays will appear sharper.

  • DaKangaroo

    Any word on what kind of displays these headsets are using? RGB or Pentile? At 1440×1440, they should offer a much better image than the Rift or Vive, especially if they aren’t Pentile.

  • nebošlo

    I’m at a point where I don’t really care about VR hardware news unless it’s about untethered devices. That or hugely improved FOV.

  • Lucidfeuer

    FOV being the most important VR factor for me as of now, it’s a no-go. Except if we can see an ACTUAL demo of -mixed-reality-. If not, there is false advertisement in the name of the headset and I feel a deserved lawsuit incoming.

  • Piotrek

    95° FOV + LCDs… enough said :(