Enlarge / Surprise! Microsoft has its own VR controller. (credit: Microsoft)
When Microsoft first unveiled the Windows 10 Creators Update last year, a big focus was put on the virtual reality capabilities, with Redmond promising a range of VR headsets with prices starting at just $299. When the Creators Update actually arrived in March this year, however, those VR capabilities were only visible if you enabled developer mode; they were there for developers, but not for the general public.

The Fall Creators Update, due to be finalized next month, will remove the developer mode restriction, opening up Microsoft’s 3D platform to all.
In time for this year’s holiday season, there will be $299 headsets and $399 headset-and-motion-controller bundles, using Microsoft’s new motion controllers.

Aside from the price, the Windows platform has a few features that make it stand out from SteamVR and the HTC Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift.

The first is substantially easier setup, as the Windows platform doesn’t need fixed base stations for position tracking.
Instead, it uses “inside out” tracking; it combines acceleration input from accelerometers with visual input from cameras embedded in the headsets to provide motion tracking.

This means that it doesn’t need base stations on the walls, nor does it need the laser-based tracking used in the HoloLens headset.
The same tracking system is used for the motion controllers; they include embedded accelerometers, and this data is combined with the camera data (since most of the time your hands will be on the edge of your field of view), and reverse kinematic models (which is to say: since you’re holding the controllers, their movements are limited by human anatomy).

The Microsoft controllers are more complex than those used by the HTC Vive, with more buttons and controls on them; they’re also asymmetric, with a dedicated left hand and right hand controller.
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