Microsoft Hololens demo
Dava J. Newman, deputy administrator NASA, demonstrates augmented reality with the Microsoft Hololens as she visits the martian landscape with the Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey A. Fowler at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, US, October 26, 2016. Reuter/Mike Blake

Microsoft has announced that it is joining the virtual reality game. The Windows-maker says that new third party VR headsets that are compatible with its latest operating system, Windows 10, will be made available soon. Microsoft joins a virtual reality market that is mostly composed of premium-priced devices, but the Redmond-based tech company says it’s offering consumers more affordable VR options.

During the Windows 10 event held in New York on Wednesday, Microsoft put an emphasis on allowing virtual reality and mixed reality support on Windows 10 devices through the Windows 10 Creators Update that is expected to commence early next year. Microsoft envisions that less expensive VR headsets shall be made available without compromising quality and advancements.

The Windows 10 event offered a sneak peek to various Microsoft-compatible third party virtual reality gear. Some of the devices that were shown were made by Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo. Microsoft said that the new VR equipment shall be able to perform inside-out tracking which allows users to detect any kind of motion in the field without the need for mounting sensors. This feature is not available on other virtual reality sets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.

The Microsoft-compatible VR headsets are expected to be user-friendly as well, requiring minimal setup just like HoloLens. The new devices will have no need for external sensors, light boxes or cameras to allow movement and make the virtual reality experience more real and enjoyable. The display resolution of the new headsets will also be better than the Oculus Rift, according to a CNET source.

The headsets shall exclusively cater to Windows VR apps only. They are expected not to work with other virtual reality software such as that of Oculus or Steam. The devices will retail for as low as US$299 (AU$390), which is half of what is currently available in the market right now. The Oculus Rift is presently priced at US$599 (AU$785).