The virtual reality market is currently in the doldrums, and everyone is holding their breath to see what will happen to Apple’s ambitious and expensive Vision Pro headset after the small waves of MetaQuest 3. But Microsoft is not giving up on VR and AR, and the Windows Virtual Reality platform will officially retire in December 2023.
Windows Virtual Reality debuted as a technical demo in 2015 with the ambitious Microsoft HoloLens headset. The following year, the augmented reality hardware was released to developers, and in 2017, the software was fully integrated into the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Despite high expectations and significant investment by Microsoft, the HoloLens was never released for general consumer use, and, aside from a high-profile contract with the U.S. military, interest from industrial customers was limited. Some demonstrations of similar headsets with the same hardware design were impressive but lacked practical applications.
The VR “metaverse” seems to have failed, at least as far as Microsoft and Meta are concerned, but the combination of VR and AR in Windows Mixed Reality may have been ahead of its time. Augmented reality is the biggest novelty in Metroid Quest 3, with a camera that works in color to integrate the gaming session into the real world. The same is the case with Apple’s Vision Pro, which is based on the idea of users always wearing headphones and simulating their eyes on an external screen.
According to Microsoft’s support page (tracked down by Windows Central), Windows Mixed Reality Portal and Windows Mixed Reality for Steam VR will be removed from future versions of Windows. However, users who still want to access Windows Mixed Reality can do so, at least for now.