Not wanting to be left out, Microsoft reveals $299 VR headset

26 Oct 2016

Microsoft store, New York. Image: Tooykrub/Shutterstock

Microsoft becomes the latest tech giant to release details on a new VR headset priced at $299, putting it somewhere between being an entry-level and high-end device.

In the space of a year or two, the number of virtual reality (VR) headsets has reached near saturation levels, with companies like Oculus, Google, Samsung, HTC, Facebook and Sony bringing out their own headsets.

At its big launch event in the US to show off its latest software and hardware news, Microsoft has now revealed it is to join these companies as a provider of VR headsets, specifically for use with Windows 10.

Future Human

While the company is keeping some of its cards close to its chest in terms of what the headset can do, it has said it will include a six-degrees-of-freedom tracking system.

This, the company said, will set it apart from its competitors because it will mean “zero need for separate room and zero need for a complicated setup”, as it will work directly with the operating system shipped on most devices.

By most devices, Microsoft means the five companies that it has partnered with for the headset: HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer, which hold most of the current PC market share.

Many of these companies have begun looking at VR technology themselves in recent years, particularly Chinese manufacturer Lenovo, which announced a deal with Irish chip maker Movidius to include its tech within its own VR products.

Microsoft VR

The Microsoft VR headset. Image: Microsoft

Cheaper than Oculus Rift

In terms of price, Microsoft has emphasised that it will be significantly cheaper than its rivals by placing on a price tag of $299, to be released at some point in the future.

While not an entry-level price like Google’s $79 Daydream, it is certainly cheaper than the Oculus Rift, which costs $599.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s more familiar augmented reality (AR) headset called the HoloLens– that changes the world around you visually rather than bringing you to a virtual one – has also received some updates.

Having been a number of years in the making, Microsoft revealed earlier this month that it is now available for pre-order in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe and Asia.

This time around, Microsoft showed off some demos for the technology, including an integration with Houzz for putting AR furniture in different areas of your room to ‘try before you buy’.

Microsoft store, New York. Image: Tooykrub/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic