back to article We experienced Windows Mixed Reality. Results: Well, mixed

PC vendors are showing off Windows Mixed Reality headsets and controllers here at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, and this writer got to try new devices from Dell, Asus and Lenovo. Windows Mixed Reality is a key feature of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, with both hardware and software promised for general …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Data visualisation is a niche application - people don't want to look stupid in the office wearing one of these headsets and as for conferencing, you are having a laugh!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      ... What about wearing the headset conferencing on the train? You'll probably have the table all to yourself.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        The Penzance train will not be stopping at Land's End

        > ... What about wearing the headset conferencing on the train?

        as you glide serenely past your stop, totally immersed in the joys of last months sales report from the northern Kamchatka region.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: The Penzance train will not be stopping at Land's End

          Stuff like conferencing might be a good choice. But adding headphones on top? Really it is absurd that these AR/VR headsets don't have built-in audio!

    2. CheesyTheClown

      Looking stupid?

      I honestly can say that I spend most of my time looking stupid... it hasn't bothered me much so far. In fact, it's entirely possible these headsets will actually make me look better.

      Oh, even if they make me look stupid, I really can't imagine that it would bother me much. I'm a engineer and color coordination has always been a problem for me. So, I generally assume I always look stupid.

      The real question is whether I can mount these in a wookie mask.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: Looking stupid?

        The real question is whether I can mount these in a wookie mask.

        What's not to like about a wookiee mask - but on deeper consideration I think I'd like the furry bit on the inside for comfort. What would you suggest for the eventual groinal attachments - Ewok or hammerhead?

        It's an idea with promise though, If people are going to be expected to look stupid in a VR helmet, they may as well market themed helmets catering from wookiee through Vader and stormtroopers to Frank Sidebottom.

        1. hplasm
          Thumb Up

          Re: Looking stupid?

          Wow - you could get a full 360 degree immersive VR in a Frank Sidebottom (RIP) head!

          With room for decent surround speakers too.

    3. TheVogon

      "Ultra is for a gamer, and all the launch headsets are Ultra. It requires a dedicated GPU and right now we are saying an Nvidia GTX 970 or better,”"

      So at least the GPU on the Xbox One X (which at 6 TFlops is roughly equivalent to GTX1070 but with greater memory bandwidth) should be able to cope. So the main question is it's "fully custom CPU design" up to the task?

    4. TheVogon

      "Data visualisation is a niche application"

      But porn and gaming are not...

  2. DrXym Silver badge

    Doomed to fail (again)

    3 separate platforms have tried to launch VR platforms in the last few years and they've all flopped.

    Turns out people don't like expensive, dorky, uncomfortable peripherals with a mess of cables and sensors especially when there is no "killer app" that justifies the effort. VR / AR have some niche uses (e.g. flight simulators in VR are awesome), but they're too much effort for the mainstream.

    Microsoft's effort is likely to fail as hard as all the rest. It seems like they're aware of that too if they're getting 3rd parties to take the financial risk of selling headsets in competition with each other for the platform.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Doomed to fail (again)

      What do you think of Apple's ARKit? It will be interesting to compare what happens with the respective MS and Apple offerings.

      I get a feeling that AR is more 'now' than VR.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Doomed to fail (again)

      Meanwhile, they've put the "mixed reality" icon in the start menu as yet one more unremovable bit of the detritus that makes the whole f***ing thing a total pig's arsehole. Maybe it's time for them to start getting the basics right. I wanted my start menu back, when they took it away in Win 8.x. But not this pile of cr*p with all its sh**ty unremovable icons for unwanted cr*p programmes.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Doomed to fail (again)

      Totally agree, but on reading the heading my thoughts were of the VR headset hype of the early 1990's not of the last couple of years.

      I've yet to see any VR headset in recent years that address the UX issues identified in the early 1990's (that had nothing to to do with processor power or display resolution and everything about having a fully immersive headset on whilst still being in the real world), hence why I agree the current efforts are doomed to fail, again.

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Doomed to fail (again)

      Where Microsoft is surely shooting itself in the foot (again) is requiring brand new PCs on Windows 10 for VR to work.

      That said, I checked the VR systems on Microsoft's own site and they do have quite a few that are 6th-gen i7s, so my PC could likely be a viable platform if I were to allow that bastardized abomination of an OS near my hardware (which I will not).

      If I ever decide to invest in VR, it will be when Linux can run the thing and there is some compelling use for me. At this point in time, there may be a way to run VR on Linux, but there is nothing that I find interesting enough to try, let alone put money in.

      So let Microsoft and the others faff about with that. The more money they put into it, the closer down the line there might just be the possibility that it could be of use to me under my own conditions. Not that I care anyway.

      1. TheVogon

        Re: Doomed to fail (again)

        "Where Microsoft is surely shooting itself in the foot (again) is requiring brand new PCs on Windows 10 for VR to work."

        They are not requiring anything of the sort. They are just installing the capability in the OS so it's built in if you have the hardware to use it. Just like say Direct-X 12 is there for gaming.

    5. Jim84

      Re: Doomed to fail (again)

      Doomed to fail... for now.

      If you could create Microsoft's Hololens with a second lcd screen on the front of the panel where each pixel the front of the panel can turn absolutely black to block out the real world behind AR objects, improving AR and allowing VR too (just black out the entire world) then you might be onto a winner.

      Also maybe a clip in bit of felt like the bottom of a google daydream mask to block out the real world below the screen in VR mode. And a light field display that auto focuses on the backs of your retinas rather than having to get the headset in the perfect position on your nose all the time....

      Of course the headset would have to cost $299 and connect wirelessly lag free to you living room PS5 or Apple TV box or Xbox. And these would have to be powerful enough to drive higher resolution screens than today's VR headsets. So when all this will be possible is anyones guess. 5-10 years from now assuming Moore's law doesn't sag too much?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Doomed to fail (again)

        That's my list of improvements right there aside from something more glove-like for the hand's position reporting to the application(s). My use here for it is AR and VR for various types engineering and what they are labeling Big Data and AI. Lastly, it would be sweet if multiple applications can share the environment. Perhaps with voice to switch between controls. Eventually, I'm going to want gaze tracking and voice command only as I lose the rest of my body. That would be a wonderful combination for a whole lot of people with certain disabilities.

        Looking at the stacks of parts around me at the moment, hardware isn't the problem. Getting the UI is. But, we already knew that. I fully expect one more generation of this from Microsoft to see if they can manage to get it right. We've had two and it takes Microsoft, on average, three to get something vaguely useful. Or not at all.

    6. Loud Speaker

      Re: Doomed to fail (again)

      no "killer app"

      I though porn was the killer app for VR! I am pretty sure the only other viable use is training people for extremely dangerous tasks - fixing Fukushima, telling Uncle Kim his strategy is bad, and Brexit negotiations. Probably not very big markets compared to porn.

      1. Tony Paulazzo

        Re: Doomed to fail (again)

        [i]I though porn was the killer app for VR[/i]

        Graphical fidelity isn't really good enough, Screen Door Effect isn't too bad in fast paced games because you're not focused on the same (groinal) area constantly, it's not even great for simple flat movies or strong black on white (Elite Dangerous star fields) imagery.

        I did hear the PSVR uses sub pixel tech which mostly eliminates SDE but I don't think any of these MS headsets uses that, plus their FOV / sweetspot is smaller than the Vive / Rift - seems like wasted potential, it's been over a year and they're worse than Gen1 products (and not much cheaper anymore).

    7. blamblamblam

      Re: Doomed to fail (again)

      Hmmm, I too am unconvinced about VR generally, but sales of the top two top platforms are pretty good IMHO:

      Sales to mid 2017 according to WSJ:

      Samsung Gear VR (cheaper) - 8m units - launched Nov 2015

      Playstation VR (expensive) - 1.8m units - launched Oct 2017

      Oculus Rift (expensive) - 383k units - launched Mar 2017

      All systems enable you to "see" your controller while the headset is on BTW.

      Oculus is indeed clearly a flop but IMHO PSVR/Gear seem to be doing fine.

      Doesn't mean VR will conquer the world of course.

    8. TheVogon

      Re: Doomed to fail (again)

      "3 separate platforms have tried to launch VR platforms in the last few years and they've all flopped."

      Sony's PSVR has sold over 1 million headsets, and Occulous Rift a few hundred thousand - I wouldn't call that a flop for such early and niche products.

      1. Jim84

        Re: Doomed to fail (again)

        ""3 separate platforms have tried to launch VR platforms in the last few years and they've all flopped."

        Sony's PSVR has sold over 1 million headsets, and Occulous Rift a few hundred thousand - I wouldn't call that a flop for such early and niche products."

        Yes but Kinect sold 10 million units... and motion control has all but disappeared.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Strange idea for a show

    So it seems the writer of this esteemed organ went to a show and found out which vendor wrote the most bug-free device driver for Windows Mixed Reality and MS' Cliff House application.

    Cliff. Nobody's going to mention Cliff, Edge, or jumping off. Marketing managed to walk into that one again.

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    New dimension

    "We are literally bringing computing into a new dimension"

    Should read 'we are virtually bringing computing into a new dimension.

    Salesmen and marketing wonks have different dictionaries to the rest of the world.

  5. James 51

    How would you type code with a VR helmet on? AR with glasses could change how we interact with PCs but I think it will be a long time before the hardware is good and cheap enough and programmers know how to create something that works.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      First we have to get rid of those bloody flat text files.

      Code is hardly more than 1-dimensional at the moment.

  6. sjsmoto

    A house for apps? So basically it's a 3-D Bob?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      It is closer to a 2.5D Bob.

      A problem with the current "3D" stuff like films is you cant focus near or far to select objects of interest. Basically the content creator set the focus position and depth-of-field and you get a stereo version where your eyes must be focused at the (virtual) distance of the screen for it to work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah its weird but

        Yeah its really odd, I remember watching Avatar and you've described the experience.

        But shouldn't the same apply to 2d film? Why doesn't the fixed focus there feel freaky - is it something more than 'we're used to it'

        Do we just need to wait for a common set of expectations for how 3D films use focus?

        I don't know.

  7. Martin Gregorie

    The acid test...

    ...for me, anyway, would be the ability to use the VR device while seated in a physical 'cockpit' , which could be for a bicycle, motorbike, racing car, glider, jet, sailing dingy... which is fitted with the appropriate physical seating, harness, controls and instrument panel and have the VR device provide 360 degree external scenery without obscuring any of the controls or the cockpit interior.

    If it can do this, and I don't mind at all if it needs special paint, etc. to delimit cockpit/controls/instruments which must not be obscured, then I want one and so will flying and driving schools.

    If it can't, then it goes in the MEH! bin because it can't begin to compete with a properly set up conventional simulator with 360 degree screens and scenery projectors, and so will be useless for realistic simulation in driving or flying games and no use for teaching flying, driving or other physical skills.

  8. frank ly

    Words and Names

    Is "Mixed Reality" a Microsoft name for augmented reality or is it like "HoloLens" in that you can't judge it by its name? Have I asked the right question?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Words and Names

      The reality is, the reception is mixed.

      It kinda sounds like Wii with VR goggles.

      Reality is paddling my kayak in a busy sea, borrowing one of my mate's bikes or driving like a loony on empty Spanish mountain roads off season. I'm 66 so I guess in the not too far distant future I may have to trade reality for something like this but adrenalin comes from knowing you are at risk, falling off a chair doesn't really do it for me.

      1. Loud Speaker

        Re: Words and Names

        falling off a chair doesn't really do it for me. at your age, that may change sooner than you think!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Words and Names

      "Is "Mixed Reality" a Microsoft name for augmented reality or is it like "HoloLens" in that you can't judge it by its name? "

      Microsoft call it mixed reality because they have their AR hololens and all the VR headsets. Mixed reality is a term they use to cover both.

      Though these headsets are clearly VR only.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mixed Reality?

    Who are the nitwits who came up with such idiotic names?

    The Kin/Zune/Bing people?

    1. TheVogon

      Re: Mixed Reality?

      "Who are the nitwits who came up with such idiotic names?

      The Kin/Zune/Bing people?"

      It probably makes more intuitive sense to your average consumer then "AR/VR"

  10. jake Silver badge

    I've been to The Cliff House.

    That is not by any stretch of the imagination The Cliff House.

  11. Barry Rueger

    A Serious Question

    I'm not a gamer. I'm not expecting to do woo-woo "data visualization" work. I'm don't expect to become a fighter pilot.

    So what, exactly, is the use case for me, and for the 95% of the population that is like me?

    And can it interface with my Smart Doorbell?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Serious Question

      So what, exactly, is the use case for me, and for the 95% of the population that is like me?

      There isn't one. But Microsoft is a big investor owned bureaucracy, and it needs to persuade itself (and to a lesser extent) investors that it is "moving forward". Absent anything innovative, or even fixing some of the inadequacies in existing products, they focus on chasing fads of their own choosing. This latest one is going to be the usual case of spewing out a vast volume of code that contains unwanted, unrequested Windows 10 updates, that the world then ignores, save for a few fashion victims, the shills, and a minority of gamers.

      You'll notice the paragraph above doesn't contain words like "customer", "market", or "demand". These have meaning but non significance in Microsoft's bubble. As a customer, Microsoft hold you and I in the same esteem that I (as a not-very-good gardener) hold slugs.

  12. blamblamblam

    A nice man on quora defines VR/MR/AR as follows:

    "Virtual reality replaces your world with a virtual one.

    Augmented reality supplements your world with digital objects of any sort.

    Mixed reality seamlessly integrates digital objects into your world making it look as if they are really there."

    ...soooo...if none of these headset have cameras, then surely they are VR not MR?

    Or is the nice man on Quora mistaken?

    Or is it that VR now seems old fashioned so MS wants a new word?

    Enlightenment much appreciated...

  13. RedCardinal

    Yet more VR rubbish that will never sell enough units to actually make a profit. B

  14. Sysgod


    Seriously. Where's the sex angle. The pretty girls, etc. From GIF's through porn downloaders, it's all about sex. Show me a sex angle here if you want these to sell.

    What was the New Years movie where you could wear a head band and experience the reality that someone had recorded? That had a sex angle...that would sell. Let's see that.

  15. Nimby

    This Virtual Reality just got more REAL

    "Microsoft’s virtual 'Cliff House'" "a sort of 3D Start menu" "you can furnish it with your own apps" "the theatre being the default place for films and videos."

    Great! And where can I download "Cliff House" skins for my skin theater? It needs to be darker, seedier, have sticky floors, with red lanterns down a dark alley... Where do I "insert" my credit card? Wow, did I just get hacked? I got mugged! Ah, just like real life, only "virtual". This is way better!

  16. Nimby

    and a Windows key that returns you to the desktop

    I love Microsoft. They make everything so user friendly. I sure am glad that Microsoft leveraged their vast experience with Xbox gaming to design a brilliant Bob-Remastered experience that combines some of the worst of Nintendo's ideas (Virtual Boy + Wii-chucks) to make their me-too VR extra-special with added Windows buttons. Because disabling the Windows key on keyboards to prevent accidentally breaking immersion (and sometimes breaking the game) wasn't enough. With so many good ideas, how can MS go wrong here? What's that? Optional extra foot pedals that overlay random cat videos from Teh Interwebs on your Bob2 experience when pressed? I'm sold!

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