Microsoft acquires AltspaceVR, free Halo: Recruit VR game coming Oct. 17

Two weeks ahead of Microsoft’s launch of its PC-based Windows Mixed Reality platform, the company held a press event in San Francisco today to make a few last-minute announcements about its efforts. Perhaps the most surprising was that the company has acquired AltspaceVR, the social networking service that was on the brink of shutting down just a few months ago.

AltspaceVR first launched in 2015, but in late July it announced that it would close due to “unforeseen financial difficulty.” However, the company revealed a few days later that the service was still up and running, thanks in part to a team of volunteers, while executives entered into discussions with third-parties to keep it going. Today. it was revealed that the AltspaceVR team is now a part of Microsoft, with the company saying that it was looking “forward to building the world’s preeminent mixed reality community.” The financial terms of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Microsoft also officially announced that Samsung will release a Windows Mixed Reality headset, the Samsung HMD Odyssey. The headset will have dual 3.5-inch AMOLED displays with a resolution of 1,440 x 1,600, along with AKG headphones that offer 360 degree spatial sound. The Samsung headset is available for pre-order at the Microsoft Store now for $499, and it includes a pair of Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality controllers. It will begin shipping on November 7. The Samsung headset joins the ones that have been announced from Dell, HP, Lenovo and Acer, all of which are also available for pre-order and will ship on Oct. 17, with the cheapest priced at $299.

Microsoft also announced that its first Halo VR “game”will be released for free on October 17. It’s called Halo: Recruit, and it sounds like it’s more of a quick introduction to the Halo sci-fi universe than a full game. Microsoft says it will give Windows Mixed Reality owners a chance to see “several iconic characters in mixed reality for the very first time.”
Finally, Microsoft said that SteamVR game developers can now access the company’s Windows Mixed Reality SteamVR preview, so they can begin adapting their games to work on the many new headsets that will be released. Consumers will be able to access this SteamVR preview on their headsets sometime later “this holiday”.
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