Early adopters of “Windows Mixed Reality” VR headsets can now access a wealth of new content thanks to an official integration with Steam, now available as a public preview, allowing the headsets to play SteamVR content from the platform.

Update (11/15/17): The SteamVR integration for Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets is now available for free on Steam as a public preview. On the Steam page, Microsoft addresses why they’re launching it as a preview:

Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR is currently targeted at consumers who want to be first to try out their Steam titles on Windows Mixed Reality. There are some known performance and experience issues that we are actively addressing. Early feedback will help spot new issues with a breadth of content.

Microsoft offers a detailed set of instructions for using Mixed Reality VR headsets play VR content on Steam, as well as troubleshooting. Steam helpfully provides the following controls for using the Mixed Reality controllers with SteamVR:

Image courtesy Steam

Original Article (11/9/17): Valve built SteamVR in an open way with the hopes that third-party headset makers would connect to the platform to offer users access to Steam’s library of VR content. With Vive and Rift support already nailed down, Microsoft’s own Windows “Mixed Reality” VR headsets are next in line to join the fray with an officially sanctioned integration which allows the headsets to tap into a trove of new content via Steam.

And it can’t come soon enough for early adopters of the Windows VR headsets. At the time of writing, Microsoft’s own Windows Store offers a paltry 61 VR apps, with only a handful of highlights and no meaningful exclusives.

SEE ALSO
Windows VR Headsets Can Play Oculus Exclusive Games via Revive

Thankfully, a public preview of the SteamVR integration for Windows “Mixed Reality” VR headsets is due to launch on Wednesday, November 15th. The preview is currently available to select developers who have applied via this form. Microsoft is positioning this initial launch of the Steam integration for Windows VR headsets as preview / beta, saying that the official launch will come at some unspecified later date.

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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."
  • DC

    There was a patch last night on Steam for SteamVR. I’m gonna guess it’s because of this.

  • Wednaud Ronelus

    This is a game changer. Can you imagine what’s going on these days. Now, this thing is really about to go viral. I am looking forward to the journey.

    • Firestorm185

      Can not wait. ^^

    • dk

      there is absolutely nothing that expensive in these headsets or in their production…….they can lower the price so much it will be basically stupid for the average consumer not to get it …..if they r not completely sure about investing in vr

  • People that have tried it say that the integration works like a charm

  • Ted Joseph

    Ordered the Samsung VR Headset and notebook with a GTX 1060. I already have a Rift tethered to a large PC with a GTX 1080, but want the freedom to move from room to room, or take it with me on vacation.

    • Doctor Bambi

      Very cool and hope it works well. When it all comes in and you get it set up. It would be awesome if you could share your impressions somewhere like r/oculus or r/vive. In particular it’d be interesting to see how far you could stretch your guardian boundaries. It could potentially flow across multiple rooms.

      The concept of using a Windows MR headset with a backpack PC has been conceptually discussed, but I don’t know if anyone has actually tried to implement it yet.

  • GrangerFX

    Steam is absolutely a make or break feature for Windows Mixed Reality headsets. I got my Samsung Odyssey on Tuesday this week. It’s pretty good except that the visor has no tilt or slide feature so putting it on while wearing glasses is a pain literally. Once on it is more comfortable than the PSVR. The problem is that there is nothing to do with it. You would think that Microsoft would have created some fun tech demos or offered a selection of free trials like Sony did on the PSVR but no. I guess I can download over 40GB of Forza but that seems a bit much for a quick demo. However if Fallout 4 VR works well, it will have been worth the wait.

    • Mythos88

      I received mine today as well along my steam beta which I’m about to install. The front the Odyssey can be pulled out to accommodate slipping on over glasses

      • GrangerFX

        You are right! I didn’t know that.

        • gothicvillas

          Does the Odyssey have room scale too?

    • Nice that you got one! Do you own a Rift/Vive too? If so, what are your other thoughts?

      • GrangerFX

        I have a Rift DK2 which has a similar screen to the Odyssey but much lower resolution. I am not a fan of the diving mask design of the Rift/Vive. I won’t buy another one of those until they change to a more comfortable design and can accommodate glasses or can be ordered with prescription lenses.

        • Thanks for replying. I found that my frames fitted inside the DK2, Rift and Vive ok but I guess that is down to frame size and shape, when taking the headset off, the glasses stayed stuck inside the headset though.

          The prescription lens snap in on the Pimax looks interesting. Not sure if UK spectacle retailers would make lenses to fit them though? How does that work? Do you send in your prescription to the VR manufacturer or do you go to a normal street shop and order bespoke lenses for your own non-standard shaped frame?

          Anyway, the review of the Odyssey linked above is quite positive, better than I expected it to be and has me tempted. It is sure to be the top seller of the MR devices just a shame they do not sell to Europe yet leaving many of us wanting that extra resolution waiting around.

          • GrangerFX

            If the Steam VR compatibility works as expected, I think that the Odyssey is going to be the best VR headset on the market for the next several months at least. Oculus and HTC have not even hinted at a new headset (not counting the stand alone unit from Oculus which serves a different market).

            When I tried glasses with my Rift DK2, I found that the frames got pressed into my skin due to the fact that the head straps are designed to pull the headset onto your face like a diving mask. I would not be able to use it for long periods that way. In addition there was not enough room between the glasses and the lenses so the glasses pressed against the lenses scratching their soft plastic while also pressing the nose supports of the glasses into my flesh. Super uncomfortable. Obviously no one at Oculus wears glasses (actually over 60% of people wear glasses so I don’t know WTF they are thinking).

            The Pimax does look interesting but I am very concerned that they went with a crowdfunding solution rather than getting traditional investment. I don’t think that consumers should have to bear the risk of product development without getting any kind of return on their investment. This has led to some rather heated arguments over the merits of crowdfunding in general. I maintain that you should wait for the Pimax to be released, read the reviews and watch YouTube videos from the people that have it and then buy it from an online retail site where you can get a refund from your credit card should anything go wrong. You may find that by the time the Pixmax 8K gets released, there will be other better options available.

          • I hear you. There just seems to be no “best” option for me.

            Personally…
            1. I want Rift touch controllers.
            2. I want Vive Tracking.
            3. I want higher resolution and fov, and like yourself to be comfortable with spectacles for all day viewing as I will use it for business development too.
            4. Available from local dealers.

            This all exists across different products but Oculus and HTC have so far not kept ahead of the competition which is frustrating to see. Have they abandoned high-end VR?

            As to Pimax, it is definitely a wild card. I hope they pull it off but I doubt it will be smooth running until mid/late 2018, where as you say, the established parties could announce something new.

            The Odyssey might be the best in-between buy at the moment if I can get one sent to the UK, I just have to wait for reviews on SteamVR first, things like Virtual Table Tennis might not work at all on it? A lot of friends compete with each other on that which is why I wish it supported Steam Tracking in addition to their own.

          • GrangerFX

            I don’t think Oculus or HTC have abandoned high end VR. I think they are just being slow or want a really big leap for their next products.

            There is no “best” option as you said. I don’t think there will be for years. I expect to buy one new headset every year around this time for the foreseeable future. VR is definitely the next big thing. It reminds me of the progression of 3D in console video games. It took a while to happen. It went from early attempts like Star Fox and the 32X to the 3DO, Jaguar and finally the Playstation really took off. At first it was not clear whether 3D was a flash in the pan or the next big thing. Most gamers thought 3D was just a gimmick and preferred 2D platform games. Now it is hard to find any AAA 2D games. Cuphead is the only one that leaps to mind.

          • RFC_VR
        • sfmike

          You can already order great prescription lens. I’m really happy with mine ans it makes a BIG difference. https://vr-lens-lab.com/

          • GrangerFX

            I am interested in corrective lenses mounted inside the headset. The ones for sale now have a barrel distortion according to reviewers but they are working on a fix.

    • sfmike

      As usual Microsoft didn’t get it’s act together. And you can expect that when the headset doesn’t make a billion dollars in profit they will drop it faster than Samsung dropped 3D TV.

  • If anybody is interested in an Odyssey Review…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQL6yx7EyZY

  • Jose Ferrer

    Seems that SteamVR with OpenVR will gain more adoption versus Oculus Store and Oculus API. That´s good for the VR users and for the game developers that can not afford maintaining multiple APIs.

    As Christmas is approaching the clear choice will be a Windows MR headset instead of the Rift.

    It is a shame that the only Oculus counteroffensive is a price drop (which is good!) rather than a Rift v2 (exactly like Rift but with just more resolution and FOV).

    Oculus: releasing a Rift every 3 or more years is clearly not the winning strategy

    • CURTROCK

      Curious: why do you think Windows MR headsets would be the clear choice over Rift?

      • Veron

        portability is a huge win for the Odyssey. You’re much more tethered and restricted with the Rift and vive

      • Jose Ferrer

        I have the DK1/DK2/CV1 but if I had none of them and I had to buy a new VR device for PC this month I will go for a Windows MR device.
        For the same price range (including latest Microsoft discount) they have better resolution and no need for external sensors.

    • Evgeni Zharsky

      not for me, i’m getting the rift for $350 vs $500 for Odyssey. It’ll come down to price for me.

      • Jose Ferrer

        If the price is the constraint, you don´t need to go to the Odyssey, you can have the Lenovo (that had nice reviews) for 299$, you save 50$ over the Rift and have a better device.

        • CURTROCK

          The Lenovo is NOT a better device. Of all the Windows MR HMD’s, it’s the worst constructed & design.

  • oompah

    will buy the headset when it costs 200$

    • dk

      from 19th to 24th the cheap ones will be 300 in the MS store
      their materials and production r so cheap they can easily go for at least 250
      but 150 for the headset and 50 for the controllers is probably doable

  • Anony Anonymous

    I hope that somebody in somebody can make compatible the hmd of “microsoft mr with linux”.I like her hmd very much but the only option is htc lives but it’s expensive.

  • Luke

    personally I wouldn’t switch to microsoft hmds until I’m sure I can continue to play Echo Arena without problems/limitations caused by the inside out tracking. it’s the only game that for real let me feel “at home” when I play it.I’m totally addicted.
    I’m waiting for a microsoft mixed reality hmd + revive + echo arena review….

    • dk

      well no one is saying u should switch …..most of them r meant to be the equivalent of a 1080p tn panel at 60hz…….even though they have a nice bump in resolution…………the main thing is there is absolutely nothing that expensive in these headsets or in their production…….they can lower the price so much it will be basically stupid for the average consumer not to get it …..if they r not completely sure about investing in vr

  • Evgeni Zharsky

    Help ! I’m torn between Rift and Odyssey this black friday. This is my one shot for a HMD (finally got the go ahead from the wife). I feel like i’ll like the simplicity of the Samsung set up but controllers and games on the Oculus.

    • daveinpublic

      The price will of the Rift will probably be cheaper, and include extra games. Plus it has Dash coming out in the coming months. The Odyssey will have a little bit higher resolution.

      • Evgeni Zharsky

        So you’re saying I need both ?

        • Arkadius Brand

          Buy Samsung Odyssey. Not worth to spend money on old hardware like Oculus or HTC Vive. Low resolution of these devices will make you crazy.

          • It’s a trade off. Do you want better tracking and touch controllers or do you want better resolution as it is either or. Then, do you want access to Oculus exclusives or are you happy with Steam games that support Windows MR tracking and maybe Revive. Hard decisions. I would look at what has the better resale value too, that’s probably the Odyssey if you are willing to ship it worldwide.

          • Evgeni Zharsky

            I feel like the bump in resolution in the Odyssey is marginal at best over the Rift. Honestly i’d have to wait for the Pimax in order to invest in a headset that has an incremental increase in resolution.

        • daveinpublic

          I guess I would lean towards the Rift, because they have a lot of updates coming in the near future, like Dash and they invest money into regular quality game releases.