Microsoft starts shipping Windows 10 mixed reality developer kits this month

Microsoft previously let us know that a range of its OEM partners with familiar names from the PC world would be building headsets that offer mixed reality experiences on Windows 10 hardware. The first of those, from Acer, will begin shipping out to developers this month, with a phased rollout that will see developer edition headsets continue to arrive at partner doorsteps throughout the next few months.

This is also the first we’ve heard of Windows Mixed Reality, which is the new branding for what Microsoft had previously been calling Windows Holographic, a moniker many pointed out wasn’t technically correct.

The plan from Microsoft is to seed these with devs so that it can get a good base layer of software ready for the eventual launch of its mixed reality OS integration across the Xbox One family of devices, including the forthcoming Scorpio Xbox successor, in 2018. It’s also going to be stepping up its efforts with mixed reality on Windows 10 on PCs, which is a core feature of the forthcoming Creators Update for Microsoft’s desktop OS.

Acer’s mixed reality headset will feature inside-out tracking, as will forthcoming devices from Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo, which means you won’t have to install external tracker devices in the room where you plan to use them in order for them to work. Instead, the headsets have all the sensors they need onboard to scan your surroundings, helping accurately track your movements for proper rendering of virtual objects.

The Acer kit going out to developers starting today boasts two LCD screens with 1440×1440 resolution, with a 90Hz refresh rate. There’s also a 3.5 mm jack for both audio out and mic in, and the headset connects to the computer running Windows 10 via a single cable that incorporates both HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0.

Mixed reality is probably going to prove a lot more interesting to a lot more people than virtual reality, if only because of the added potential it has to offer versatile new productivity tools for office and other workers. Of course, it’ll all depend on Microsoft building up a library of worthwhile, quality software, which is what this whole dev kit seed is all about.