Late last year Microsoft announced it would be ending support for Windows Mixed Reality headsets (and associated software). Now the company has taken the first steps toward pulling the plug.

Windows Insider Preview Build 26502 was released to members of the Windows Insider Preview program this week, and users running this build who plug in a Windows Mixed Reality Headset will find that it doesn’t work. So far this only affects folks who are testing the latest preview, but this will become standard behavior when Windows 11 24H2 rolls out later this year.

Lenovo Dell, HP, and Acer Windows Mixed Reality headsets (via Windows Experience Blog, 2017)

Microsoft started building virtual and mixed reality features into Windows nearly a decade ago, with the launch of a Windows Holographic set of features initially designed to support the company’s HoloLens headset.

Windows Holographic was renamed Windows Mixed Reality in 2017, when Microsoft began working with PC companies including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo to release lower-cost VR headsets designed for use with Windows PCs.

But the platform never really took off in a big way, and it’s been years since any company has released a new headset for Windows Mixed Reality. Meanwhile we’ve seen growth in the non-Windows headset space, with Meta’s Quest line of headsets, Sony’s PlayStation VR, and, most recently, Apple’s Vision Pro.

So what are you supposed to do with your hardware if you’re one of the handful of people who’ve actually got a Windows Mixed Reality headset lying around? Microsoft says you can keep using it with Valve’s Steam VR platform through November, 2026. There’s just one catch: you’ll need to avoid installing major Windows operating system updates, as you’ll need to remain on Windows 11 23H2 to use a Windows Mixed Reality Headset with Steam after Windows 11 24H2 is released.

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  1. I always find moves like this from Microsoft a bit disappointing. It used to be that backwards compatibility was the thing that Windows did really well. Other operating systems might be faster, more secure, more memory efficient and have a cleaner network stack, but you could find support for your ancient piece of random hardware on Windows. Then came Windows 11 and even some quite recent hardware was suddenly out in the cold. I mean, I understand the desire to weed out stuff that is only used by a tiny percent of the user base to improve stability and reduce support overheads, but I still find it disappointing.

  2. Erm… yeah I read that Microsoft is killing the Windows mixed AR “API set” in later revisions of Windows. That doesn’t mean you can’t use AR in Windows, just that manufacturers would need to write their own drivers.

    This story and title are click bait. Really Brad, I expected more from you and this site…. -2 Respect points here. It’s going to get to the point where I will stop visiting this site if you become a click-bait site like so many others… I’m serious.

    1. For context to you viewers. I actually wrote a bootloader and a very rudimentary DOS-like interface through GCC. It was far more rudimentary than even DOS 1.0, but it had a basic interface.

      I programmed an API in assembly to get basic functions like video IO to create an interface to function with.

      Windows has many API’s. Like the AR API. API stands for “application programming interface”. Like for example, you want to query your vidoe card, you could create a function in assembly, and write it out as anything you want ( let’s say, query_video_interface() ). From there, you can write a function to write to your video card to display on your display.

      What I’m saying is… AR isn’t going away just because Microsoft is abandoning their API. Manufacturers can come to the front and write their own drivers. API’s are really just drivers.

      This title is clickbait, and frankly, makes me lose respect for your site, Brad. I expected more from you. To say OMG, AR on Windows is dying (which is basically what your title leads your readers to believe) is extremely dishonest. You’re at risk of losing me as a viewer. Try being an honest journalist and stand out from the rest of the net….

      1. It was a 16-bit real-mode bootloader which loaded into a 32-bit protected mode interface. Which is what modern Windows does.

        Ever notice how when you boot a modern Windows disc, it seems to load twice? It load first into real-mode, than into protected mode (in this case, 64-bit).

        I just programmed into 16-bit registers to load a 32-bit interface.

        I’m just saying…. Windows AR isn’t going away even despite Microsoft abandoning the API. It’s exactly like Microsoft not providing drivers for a device, but you can download drivers from the specific manufacturer’s website.

        It’s not going away……

        You’re on thin-ice Brad. I will abandon this site if you don’t stop your shenanigans.

    2. There have been efforts to make an open source mixed reality driver, but the Windows API for it does a ton of the heavy lifting, such as inside-out tracking. The hardware manufacturers won’t fill in the gaps, as there is no money in it for them. It’s not clickbait; Microsoft is going to make a lot of people’s headsets nonfunctional.

      1. Yeah this exactly. justsomeone1 is basically saying nothing is ever killed off because third parties can just write their own drivers or whatever else MS stopped supporting. But who would? It’s not like there aren’t options out there for VR platforms to build on. Why would they go through the trouble of making their software work with Mixed Reality knowing they need to put in extra work, especially if the OEM has discontinued it. In the tech world, when it’s left to die out, it always does.