This week saw the arrival of the latest Xbox One dashboard update, OS version 6.2.13194.0, which adds both Xbox 360 backwards compatibility and, more importantly for virtual reality (VR) enthusiasts, Windows 10 streaming to the console. This is the first step towards bringing VR to the Xbox One console, as was originally revealed at Oculus VR’s Step into the Rift conference, San Francisco, last month.
The Xbox One’s VR compatibility will come by way of a partnership with Oculus VR to allow Xbox One content to be streamed to the consumer version of the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) by way of a Windows 10 PC. Though previously available to Xbox One Preview Programme members, this functionality is now widespread and available for all users of the console ahead of the official launch of Windows 10 on 29th July 2015. However, simply hooking up an Oculus Rift development kit is not currently enough; there are two more steps that are required to enable official support of Oculus Rift for Xbox One.
Firstly, the hardware. The consumer version of the Oculus Rift is a significant improvement over both of the commonly available development kits – in both terms of resolution and tracking – and as such it’s not difficult to recommend that keen users wait just a few months longer to get their hands on the official retail version of the HMD. That, and the fact that the retail package will come with an Xbox One controller included in the box, allowing for instant compatibility with the Xbox One’s full videogame library (excluding Kinect-only titles).
Secondly, the software. While there will no doubt be an innovative coder somewhere in the world who will tackle the challenge of creating an application that allows for an Xbox One ‘virtual cinema’ prior to the launch of the official software, at this time no such support exists. Simply connecting your existing VR hardware to your Windows 10 PC while using the Xbox One streaming functionality is not enough. Even if you manage to get the ‘extended desktop’ mode working to the point where the screen is readable within the HMD, you will not benefit from any head- or positional-tracking whatsoever.
So what’s next? Stage 2 of the plan will be the official launch of the Oculus Rift, of course, set for the first quarter of 2016. Stage 3 is the launch of an official application to support Xbox One streaming to the Oculus Rift; while it’s currently believed this will be day-and-date with the hardware, neither Microsoft nor Oculus VR have yet gone on record to state this. It should also be noted that Microsoft subtly announced that they have also partnered with Valve for compatibility with the HTC Vive at last month’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Los Angeles, though no details of this partnership have yet been revealed. VRFocus will of course keep you updated as the Xbox One VR plan progresses.