Microsoft reportedly holding off on virtual reality headsets or glasses, for now

Virtual reality headsets and immersive computing experiences are gaining traction, both with companies and consumers. Sony have been showing off Project Morpheus at E3 and on Jimmy Kimmel, Facebook splashed out on Oculus VR and Google is making massive inroads in getting Glass out the door and onto our heads.

But it appears that Microsoft will not be joining the virtual reality party right now.


A glimpse into Microsoft's Xbox future?

While it’s no secret that Microsoft splashed out and acquired IP assets in augmented reality and wearable technology from Osterhout Design Group (ODG), it seems that bringing their own version of Project Morpheus or Google Glass isn’t a viable option right now. At least according to the latest rumors, as the company hasn't made any public comments on this.

And it’s not that Microsoft aren’t in a position to push the technology as a viable alternative to the already mentioned others, but patent restrictions with the Kinect technology mean that Microsoft can’t combine the glasses/headset with Kinect, so the company has supposedly shelved their plans. For the time being of course.

With the flurry of activity around wearable technology, could Microsoft be missing a beat here? Or could it be taking a step back to see how the technology is adopted, before giving yet another, almost forced, option to gamers? Let’s put it this way, Sony’s Move and, to an extent, the Kinect are at best used when you have friend over for drinks.

Finally, taking into consideration the cost and the relatively untried nature of the hardware in the general consumer environment, for the moment, could Microsoft be better off exploring other more sensible wearable technology – smart watches for example? Perhaps, but we'll have to wait and see how this pans out.

Now the video above, from Channel 5's The Gadget Show in the UK, is immersive gaming!

Source: WPDang (translated) | Video: YouTube | Image courtesy of Trust Reviews

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20 Comments

It's definitely a gimmick. I mean look what happened to 3D TVs... no ones wants to pay for these expensive glasses. I think once 3D/Virtual Reality becomes glasses-free (like in the movie "Her"), we'll start seeing real progress with it. But for now, Microsoft has more important things to focus on.

j2006 said,
It's definitely a gimmick. I mean look what happened to 3D TVs... no ones wants to pay for these expensive glasses. I think once 3D/Virtual Reality becomes glasses-free (like in the movie "Her"), we'll start seeing real progress with it. But for now, Microsoft has more important things to focus on.

I don't think this is a gimmick. 3D TV didn't work because it made your big living room TV look like garbage and be unusable to everyone else in the room who didn't have the glasses on. In this case it's the opposite as it doesn't use your TV at all. In Sony's case you can be wearing your VR headset and playing on your PS4 while your significant other, kids, whatever are watching TV on the TV the PS4 is connected to. For Oculus it's made for PCs which are typically used by one person at a time anyway or eventually they want to make it work with mobile, either fully integrated or by using your smartphone which is again a single user experience already. If they can make these things affordable and so they don't make you sick or give you a sore neck then they may very well succeed.

I think it is a good idea for MS to wait to see how devices are used and developed in the wild. The market already has entries in the form of Glass and Oculus. There is no need to rush in with a Zune-quality entry. Oculus itself worked on Windows would be sufficient to keep them in the development channels.

Right! That way they can offer too little too late! It's always worked out in the past... Smart phones... Tablets... music services & players... Search...

I've been playing Xbox since day one 2001 and I was a beta tester for Xbox Live in 2002. No joke the only thing that will get me to finally abandon Xbox is if they don't put out a competitor for Oculus and Morpheus or PS Now. Microsoft used to be the first to do things on consoles now they want to sit back and let others blaze the trail forward. Okay then I'm going to switch to their competitors products. If the only way I can get motion control VR is from Oculus or Sony then I have no choice but to dump Xbox and go where the exciting stuff is happening.

This is coming from someone who has never owned a PlayStation or even downloaded Steam. If they're pushing people like me away now they are in serious trouble. The whole appeal of Xbox has been bringing the best PC tech to the living room, but recent behavior suggests they're losing their desire to innovate and stay ahead of the trends.

Edited by Avatar Roku, Jun 16 2014, 4:18pm :

I think its wise, nothing is certain in this space yet. Google glass is a way off and has plenty of legal and moral issues surrounding it.

Occulus is going to be for PC so hey ho.

Morpheus is also a way of I think and who knows what the games/hardware will be like?

MS will no doubt be tinkering in the back rooms, if things take off big time I cant imagine things taking too long to bring to market - who knows maybe they want to keep things close to their chest and let all the others create the initial hype which will have died by the time of release?

duddit2 said,
I think its wise, nothing is certain in this space yet.

In business if you wait to enter a new market until it's proven to be viable then you're going to be stuck playing catch-up with whoever did the work to prove it was viable.
duddit2 said,
Google glass is a way off and has plenty of legal and moral issues surrounding it.

I agree with you here. This article lumps together two different things. Oculus and Project Morpheus are VR while Google Glass is AR. AR as you state has plenty of legal and moral issues and everything MS does of late seems to be looked at in the worst possible light so it's probably good to sit back there. VR however is somewhere that MS should be innovating, specifically for the Xbox.
duddit2 said,
Occulus is going to be for PC so hey ho.

That is the upside, there is no reason for them to compete with Oculus on the PC. Oculus sees VR as a rapidly evolving area though so has no desire to make a console version with their fixed hardware and long life-cycle. As such if MS wants VR on Xbox then they're going to have to do it themselves, like Sony is. That's not to say they have to go solo though. Oculus is interested in helping with VR everywhere so they've already met with Sony and demo'd their latest prototypes and such (and Sony has returned the favor). Oculus believes that the biggest threat to VR is poorly implemented VR so helping Sony make the best PlayStation specific product they can will just get more people excited about VR whereas if Sony comes out with a crap headset first people might be turned off to VR and never give Oculus a chance. They'd probably help MS make an Xbox headset as well. (although it may be an issue if MS wants to make the headset work with Windows as well and thus compete directly against Oculus)
duddit2 said,
Morpheus is also a way of I think and who knows what the games/hardware will be like?

I don't know what you consider "a way of" but I wouldn't be shocked to see Morpheus launch before Christmas this year though most likely it will be sometime next year. I don't consider that too far off but maybe you do and I seriously doubt it will launch later than 2015. As for the games and hardware people are raving about EVE Valkyrie and while there will be tweaks and such I suspect the final version will look pretty similar to current prototype. I think the big change everyone is hoping for is just replacing the LCDs with the quicker responding OLED displays.
duddit2 said,
MS will no doubt be tinkering in the back rooms, if things take off big time I cant imagine things taking too long to bring to market - who knows maybe they want to keep things close to their chest and let all the others create the initial hype which will have died by the time of release?

If things "take off big time" and they miss all the "initial hype" then they are going to be at a severe disadvantage to those who were making the products that took off big time and benefiting from the hype. Coming in late with VR may work just as well against Facebook/Oculus and Sony/Morpheus as it has for Windows Phone against Android and iPhone.

MS was first with smartphones - apple watched and then did it better.
MS was first with tablets - apple watched and then did it better

There is some merit to not being first to the party, especially if you are working on stuff behind closed doors which I highly suspect they are.

Also while xbox one isn't selling as many units as PS4, its still selling very well (better than xbox 360) and they've got some cracking games coming out. I think the Halo stuff will push a lot of people to the xbox or to also buy an xbox (it has a lot of love as a franchise). So if the VR stuff works out well there is nothing stopping MS coming in late with their own. This is the start of an 8 year console cycle and the xbox one is selling well enough for this strategy to work.

Don't forget, not selling as many units as the PS4 does not mean its not selling, its doing fine.

duddit2 said,
MS was first with smartphones - apple watched and then did it better.
MS was first with tablets - apple watched and then did it better

What is this supposed to prove? That Apple can come late to a market and bring people around? MS is not Apple and just because Apple could do it doesn't mean MS can. In recent history MS is getting owned in new markets when it arrives late. Windows Phone, Zune, etc. The areas it is doing well in are ones it has done well in for YEARS and areas where it is on the leading edge not taking a wait and see approach.
The media loves Apple, everything they make is "Magic" after all. MS doesn't benefit from that, instead everything MS does is some great conspiracy. As such it is harder to enter new markets for them.
duddit2 said,

There is some merit to not being first to the party, especially if you are working on stuff behind closed doors which I highly suspect they are.

I hope you're right, but I'm not so optimistic.
duddit2 said,

Also while xbox one isn't selling as many units as PS4, its still selling very well (better than xbox 360) and they've got some cracking games coming out. I think the Halo stuff will push a lot of people to the xbox or to also buy an xbox (it has a lot of love as a franchise).

Did I say something that attacked the Xbox One? I don't understand your point here in defending it. How is Halo relevant here at all?
duddit2 said,
So if the VR stuff works out well there is nothing stopping MS coming in late with their own.

VR isn't easy. Oculus has been working on this for a while now, they brought in Carmack to help, Valve has worked with them and they've even traded info back and forth with Sony for Morpheus. I don't think MS is just going to pop out a great product on their own out of nowhere, I guess you do. Also if they come in late they're going to miss all the hype and the sales it drives. That's bad from a developer standpoint because it makes them a follower and less able to push forward their own changes and it is bad for the platform because if it does become big they'll be seen as just jumping on the bandwagon instead of actually innovating. That's a real PR problem when people go to pick which platform they want to support. It's not insurmountable, if they make a significantly superior product then people will come but it makes it that much harder and lately anyway, even with an arguably superior product, MS hasn't made a lot of headway in areas it arrived later.

Like they did with just about every other technology, they will sit back and wait, then release a product 3 years after it's too late.

The Xbox team was different though. They put a HDD and Ethernet port on their game console before anyone else. They built Xbox Live and Xbox Live Arcade years before PSN and the iOS app store and now have 50 million Xbox Live users. They created achievements and party chat years before anyone else on consoles. They put out the Kinect, blew people's minds and became the fastest selling consumer electronics device in history.

For them to start saying things like "we're going to wait for VR to become mainstream" or "we don't know if OnLive or PS Now is a good use of the cloud" shows to me a very different company than what Xbox used to be. The company that is talking right now is not the one that created Xbox Live. The old Xbox team would not be afraid of pursuing new technology.

John Nemesh said,
Like they did with just about every other technology, they will sit back and wait, then release a product 3 years after it's too late.

MS were First with both smartphones and tablets, apple sat back and waited for tech to get to a sweat spot and brought out their versions and killed the market! there is a good side to sitting back sometimes, especially if the tech isn't quite right just now.

duddit2 said,

MS were First with both smartphones and tablets, apple sat back and waited for tech to get to a sweat spot and brought out their versions and killed the market! there is a good side to sitting back sometimes, especially if the tech isn't quite right just now.

Yeah? How well is that working out?

They will just wait to see how others do. MS has not been known to push a tech forward lately and make it mainstream.

Wearables like Glass/smart watches will never be mainstream. Just like bluetooth headsets never were. You will see someone with them every now and then, but thats about it.

"The Early Bird Catches The Worm But The Second Mouse Gets The Cheese". However, MS is playing the role of the third mouse that gets nothing!.

If i were Microsoft i would just wait till someone else made some then reverse engineer it, change the design a little and some functions then release.

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