Microsoft shifting the Windows Mixed Reality platform to OpenXR

Microsoft is moving is HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality platforms to the OpenXR specification to make development easier.

1 minute & 3 seconds read time

Microsoft announced that it would transition its Windows Mixed Reality platform exclusively to OpenXR in future game engine releases.

Microsoft shifting the Windows Mixed Reality platform to OpenXR 01

This year, Khronos Group released the OpenXR 1.0 specification, which saw immediate support from the biggest names in the XR space. Oculus and Microsoft quickly released OpenXR compatible runtimes, followed by SteamVR and HTC shortly after that. Now that Unity and Epic Games are on board, Microsoft is preparing to move away from its WinRT API and shift exclusively to OpenXR.

The idea behind Khronos Group's OpenXR specification is that developers can write code once, which would be compatible with all OpenXR devices. That means developers could build one application that would run on OpenXR-compatible VR or AR hardware.

Engine Updates

Microsoft said that it worked closely with Unity and Epic Games to ensure that their engines' future versions would support HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets through OpenXR.

Unity already supports OpenXR, but the current version doesn't support HoloLens 2 and HP Reverb G2. Support for those headsets is coming in Unity 2020 LTS, and it will include support for advanced features like HoloLens 2 eye-tracking and spatial anchors. Unity 2020 LTS retains support for the WinRT API; Unity 2021 would be fully OpenXR.

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The story is similar for the Unreal Engine. Version 4.23, which is out now, includes full support for OpenXR 1.0 but does not fully support HoloLens 2 and new Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Unreal 4.26, which is available in preview today and full release later this year, will enable hand interaction for HP Reverb G2 and the complete set of HoloLens 2 features.

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Kevin joined the TweakTown team in 2020 and has since kept us informed daily on the latest news. Kevin is a lifelong tech enthusiast. His fascination with computer technology started at a very young age when he watched a family friend install a new hard drive into the family PC. After building his first computer at 15, Kevin started selling custom computers. After graduating, Kevin spent ten years working in the IT industry. These days, he spends his time learning and writing about technology - specifically immersive technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality.

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