Earlier this week, Microsoft announced its Windows Mixed Reality headsets would start shipping in the US from October 17th alongside its Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. But while the platform has some notable strengths, research firm IHS Markit predicts a "slow start" for the technology due to VR remaining a niche in the market.
"The new Windows MR headsets have a number of advantages over other PC-based competition, including HTC Vive and Oculus Rift," said IHS' research and analysis director for games Piers Harding-Rolls.
"One obvious benefit is cheaper pricing – Windows MR headsets bundled with Windows MR controllers are up to $100 less expensive than the Rift headset, and $200 lower than the Vive – which will broaden the appeal of PC VR headsets over time.
"The headsets also use inside-out tracking technology to remove the need for external sensors or light emitters, making it a simpler setup for consumers. Beyond these factors, the new VR headsets are being built by the biggest Windows OEMs, which will have access to established sales and marketing capabilities as they make a push to expose consumers to the new products."
However, as MCV touched on yesterday, Harding-Rolls adds that the Windows Mixed Reality branding could prove "confusing to consumers" considering the current crop of headsets only support VR.
"Additionally, while Microsoft has announced a low minimum specification for PCs to support the new headsets, consumers will still need to have powerful gaming PCs if they wish to play and interact with high-end content. This could lead to further confusion, depending on the experience of consumers during the sales process," he continued.
"Another key differentiating factor is that the standard Windows MR headsets use LCD displays, which are less suitable for VR applications because of the lack of low persistence, the more limited viewing angle and contrast compared to OLED technology. Both the Rift and Vive headsets use OLED displays. Significantly, Samsung’s upcoming premium Windows MR headset will use OLED displays and have built in audio, but also be launched at the same price point as the Oculus Rift: $499."
As a result, Harding-Rolls expects the PC-based consumer VR market to remain "relatively niche" due to the cost of the headsets and an overall lack of must-have content.
"IHS Markit expects PC-based VR headsets to experience slow growth in sales volume over the next few years and predicts that Windows MR headsets will go on to sell 280,000 by the end of 2017."