December 2nd, 2016 by Michael Leary
Virtual Reality is quickly becoming a mainstay feature in the industry, and with Sony recently staking their own claim with PlayStation VR, Microsoft has decided to step in the ring with an offering aimed at Windows 10 users.
While Microsoft’s entry into the market was an expected move, the starting price of $299 is undoubtedly going to surprise many. With the market currently dominated by the likes of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and the aforementioned PlayStation VR, the software giant’s own offerings will undercut the competition, becoming the most affordable entry point when released.
Insiders may have taken notice of the “Windows Holographic First Run” application that tests their machine to ensure compatibility with the platform, similar to the SteamVR Performance Test for the Vive. Perhaps just as surprising as the starting price are the minimum hardware requirements which are, in a word, basic:
- 4GB of RAM
- USB 3.0 Port
- Graphics card supporting DirectX 12
- 4 CPU cores, including dual-core processors with hyper-threading
These requirements will make Windows 10 VR accessible for most modern machines, with the biggest obstacle being DirectX 12 support. While most laptops and desktops using a discrete GPU aren’t going to be a concern, integrated graphics on CPU’s are a different matter.
With the minimum hardware requirements being what they are, it will be interesting to see what kind of software the headsets will be able to run. While serious VR gaming is likely out of the equation with the entry-level models, Windows 10 VR is a step in the right direction and is likely to penetrate the market in ways the Vive and Rift are unable to.
With the uber-spec Xbox One already confirmed to support VR when it releases in late 2017, the question now becomes this: will Project Scorpio have its own dedicated device, or have the headsets been developed with the company’s gaming division accounted for?
The first devices will release through several partners some time after the Creators Update. The update will introduce new creativity and gaming experiences when it arrives Spring 2017, and will be available for free to all Windows 10 users.
More details on the VR headsets are expected to be shared at the WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Community) events on December 4–5 in Shenzhen, China, and December 14–15 in Taipei City, Taiwan.