Windows Mixed Reality was Microsoft’s big attempt at virtual reality and augmented reality, powering everything from VR headsets to the futuristic HoloLens. With Apple’s Vision Pro headset on the way, Microsoft has apparently decided to kill Windows Mixed Reality.
Microsoft has added Windows Mixed Reality to its online list of deprecated Windows features, meaning it is no longer under active development and isn’t well supported. The page explains, “Windows Mixed Reality is deprecated and will be removed in a future release of Windows. This deprecation includes the Mixed Reality Portal app, and Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR and Steam VR Beta.”
Microsoft introduced Windows Mixed Reality in 2017 as a unified platform both virtual reality and augmented reality expereinces on Windows PCs. Microsoft partnered with a few different companies to produce VR headsets, such as the Samsung HMD Odyssey and Dell Visor, and the platform was planned to be a core component of Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset. The VR headsets weren’t bad for the time, especially when many of the competing options were more expensive or required setting up tracking sensors in a room.
However, Microsoft’s big plans never really worked out. There were only a handful of headsets released after the initial launch (the most rceent was the HP Reverb G2 in 2020), self-contained VR headsets like the Meta Quest series took off, and most PC games and applications continued to just use SteamVR (which works with many other types of headsets). Microsoft also never released HoloLens as a regular product—it’s mostly just sold to factories and the US Army.
It’s not surprising that Windows Mixed Reality didn’t go the way Microsoft wanted, but it’s a bit strange that the entire platform will go away instead of being reworked. Modern-day technology with better graphics and display resolutions is making the idea of mixed reality computing a lot more appealing, and devices like the Quest Pro, Quest 3, and Vision Pro are pushing forward with the concept. It’s unclear if Microsoft is planning to create a new platform for VR or AR, or if the company will just let SteamVR and other third-party solutions continue to handle that market segment.
The deprecation announcement doesn’t have a firm timeline yet, or confirmation on what exactly will happen to existing Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Presumably, the headsets will stop working when the platform is fully removed from Windows.