Microsoft Is Making Hundreds of Dollars Worth of VR Hardware Useless

Microsoft discontinuing Windows Mixed Reality
Image Courtesy: Microsoft
In Short
  • Microsoft will remove Windows Mixed Reality platform features (including the SteamVR app) soon.
  • The future release of Windows will not include these features, now being 'deprecated.'
  • A lot of PCVR gaming is still done with Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets, and it feels like Microsoft is leaving these people out cold.

Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets that offer immersive virtual reality experiences are going away. Suddenly, everyone who purchased VR headsets, which cost them several hundred dollars simply being told – “Windows Mixed Reality is deprecated and will be removed in a future release of Windows.

The news comes from the official Microsoft blog, where it mentions deprecated features of the Windows 11 operating system. When a feature is ‘deprecated’ by Microsoft, it essentially becomes obsolete. This deprecation of the Windows Mixed Reality platform extends to the Mixed Reality Portal app as well.

Moreover, it has been mentioned that the app to connect Windows Mixed Reality VR Hardware to the SteamVR platform is also being deprecated. This is not at all a good sign for Microsoft’s Mixed Reality and all the expensive VR hardware that people use to this day.

What if a user simply does not want to use the Mixed Reality platform but wants to keep using the VR headset for SteamVR gaming? Looks like this will no longer be possible on the latest version of Windows 11. Essentially, Windows Mixed Reality is now being discontinued.

According to Microsoft, Windows Mixed Reality “will be removed in a future release of Windows.” So, if you are a SteamVR user with any brand’s Windows Mixed Reality VR headset, do not update your Windows 11.

You will literally make your Windows Mixed Reality VR headset useless by doing so. Of course, not using the latest Windows can come with risks, but that is the situation now.

Many VR Gamers Still Use Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR

Steam hardware survey 2023 showing which VR headset brand is more popular

Microsoft’s sudden removal of the Mixed Reality platform in a future Windows update will not be well received by many users. The last Steam hardware survey mentions that 5.18% of SteamVR users use Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets.

The Mixed Reality platform had many manufacturers under it, which made various VR hardware with varied specifications. Major OEMs like Acer, ASUS, Samsung, Dell, and HP were involved in this. There were even premium offerings, such as HP Reverb G2 and Samsung Odyssey.

This 5.18% number essentially represents all those Mixed Reality VR headset users. It is unclear if a replacement for the Mixed Reality app is coming or not. Will your expensive VR hardware become useless? There should still be a way for it to keep working as long as you have the Mixed Reality SteamVR application.

How To Keep Using Mixed Reality VR Headset for SteamVR After Deprecation

As we mentioned before, do not update your Windows if you want to keep using your Mixed Reality VR headset. Microsoft blog guides for Mixed Reality setup are still up. You can also find the Windows Mixed Reality for the SteamVR app on the Steam Store. Here, the following operating systems are mentioned as being compatible with Windows Mixed Reality:

  • Windows 10: Versions 20H2, 21H1, and 21H2.
  • Windows 11: Versions 21H2 and 22H2.

If you are a Windows Mixed Reality user, you should stick to these aforementioned Windows 10/11 builds. While you will not have an updated Windows, this will remain to be the only way you will be able to keep playing with your expensive VR headset.

SteamVR gameplay
Inside SteamVR

I do not like what Microsoft has done with its Mixed Reality platforms. I was a Mixed Reality VR user myself and personally bought the Dell Visor Mixed Reality VR headset for $300. Apart from my gripes with the platform (and other minor limitations), it was impressive nonetheless, given the price.

What are your thoughts on Microsoft suddenly ousting its Mixed Reality platform? This was the company’s attempt to make an affordable VR platform while also offering budget VR headsets – all before the age of Apple Vision Pro. Let us know if you are affected by this in the comments below!

SOURCE Microsoft
comment Comments 1
  • Damien says:

    If we need to remain on previous versions of windows to continue to use WMR headsets, How do we prevent windows from Updating, I believe we can only defer updates and not prevent them.

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