That new Surface Studio computer may have been the star of Microsoft’s show last Wednesday, but the story that didn’t get enough attention was how Microsoft is expanding its plans for augmented and virtual reality, the platforms many think will usher in a new era of computing.
Next year, Microsoft will release a free update to Windows 10 called the Creators Update that includes the ability to plug a virtual reality headset into your PC. The headsets are relatively cheap too, starting at $299. They’ll be built by all the top PC makers like Dell, Lenovo, and Asus.
But they’re more than just affordable headsets. They also have features you still can’t get in high-end headsets like Facebook’s Oculus Rift, which costs $599. Most notably, the headsets are able to provide free range of motion without an external camera tracking you.
Alex Kipman, Microsoft’s head of the HoloLens and other augmented and virtual reality projects, told Business Insider in an interview last week that the new portfolio of VR headsets will be the “most immersive and and powerful headsets at the most affordable price.”
That last bit about affordability is a major caveat, of course. While the new headsets from Dell, Lenovo, and the rest may not match the Oculus Rift in terms of display quality, they’ll immediately be more accessible and in some ways more capable.