Microsoft has been pushing the idea of mixed reality since it first demoed its Hololens headset back in 2015. The company made some noise last year when it promised that its hardware partners would deliver headsets for under $400 in time for this year's holiday season. The new headsets use an "inside-out" tracking system that does away with the external tracking boxes used by HTC's Vive and Oculus' Rift. The Redmond software giant says that the new devices are still on track for a holiday release, will work with PCs that cost as little as $500, and perhaps most notably, that content from Steam will be available for the new platform. The company also mentioned that 343 Industries will create a new title in Halo universe for the new mixed reality devices.
Microsoft will be using a tiered approach when it comes to badging PCs ready to use with the new head-mounted displays. "Windows Mixed Reality PCs" will use integrated graphics to deliver a 60 FPS experience, while "Windows Mixed Reality Ultra PCs" will use discrete graphics chips from AMD and Nvidia to target the 90 FPS rate PC gamers have come to expect while gaming with HTC and Oculus headsets. The Redmond company previously stated that headsets will also come in at least two tiers—one that uses LCD displays with a resolution of 1200x1080, and another with AMOLED screens with a 1440x1440 resolution.
The company will have devices and software on display at the IFA event (Berlin Radio Show) going on this week. The $399 and $499 pricing that Microsoft announced for the upcoming headsets was quite impressive ten months ago, but recent price drops have put the the HTC Vive at $600 and the Oculus Rift at $400. Time will tell if the lighter hardware requirements and easier setup of the Windows Mixed Reality headsets will entice home users worldwide.