BERLIN (Reuters) – Microsoft is to update its flagship operating system so that the latest generation of Windows 10 hardware devices and software can tap into augmented and virtual reality, executives said on Friday.
The software upgrade, its fourth update, will be offered from Oct. 17 to existing customers of Windows 10 running on more than 500 million devices, the company said.
Microsoft also announced plans by computer and virtual-reality headset makers to introduce new hardware for businesses, consumers and video gamers to take advantage of so-called “mixed reality” features in the October software release.
“We’re enabling you to immerse yourself in a new reality – mixed reality,” Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president in charge or Windows, said in a speech at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin.
Mixed reality is the term Microsoft uses to describe software that encompasses augmented reality, which overlays text or graphics on real-life objects, and virtual reality, which simulates the real world.
The multimedia content can be viewed on computers, TV displays, smartphones, tablets or dedicated virtual reality goggles. These features will be targeted first at advanced video game players using VR headsets, with business applications to follow.
Microsoft’s new software release shrinks the laborious set-up of VR headsets for users to around 10 minutes, down from two to three hours now, in a step towards making such technology mainstream, Microsoft officials said.
The software group, which has largely remade itself into a supplier of cloud services delivered via the internet, has moved to a roughly six-month release cycle for feature updates of Windows from its three-year release cycle for disk-based versions of its operating system software.
Microsoft also announced a range of devices from key hardware partners ready to take advantage of mixed reality features in the Windows 10 update available in mid-October from vendors including Lenovo, HP Inc, Dell [DI.UL], Acer, Asus (2357.TW) and Fujitsu.
Reporting by Eric Auchard and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Jane Merriman