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Meta Quest OS goes open source, partners with tech giants

Asus plans on building a gaming headset based on Meta Horizon OS, Microsoft is collaborating on a "limited-edition Meta Quest, inspired by Xbox."

Meta HorizonOS

American tech major Meta Platforms announced on Monday it is opening up its Meta Quest operating system to third-party hardware manufacturers. Asus, Lenovo and Microsoft’s Xbox have been confirmed to be the first companies that will develop new devices that run what Meta now calls Meta Horizon OS.

Previously exclusive to Meta’s Quest line, Horizon OS will let third-party hardware makers develop their own VR/MR headsets. This fosters competition and innovation, potentially leading to a wider variety of devices catering to specific needs. ASUS’s Co-CEO S.Y. Hsu said the company, along with Republic of Gamers, will build the gaming headset on Meta Horizon OS. Lenovo plans to develop mixed reality devices for productivity, learning, and entertainment. Notably, Microsoft is collaborating on a “limited-edition Meta Quest, inspired by Xbox,” potentially bridging the gap between console and VR gaming.

Horizon OS isn’t entirely new. It’s a rebranded version of the existing Quest operating system, itself built upon the Android base. This familiarity is said to benefit developers, allowing them to leverage existing tools and expertise to create compelling VR experiences for the expanding platform. Additionally, Meta is simplifying app discovery by merging the Quest Store with App Lab.

While this open approach positions Meta as a frontrunner in shaping the future of VR, the company also faces stiff competition. Apple entered the VR scene with its high-end Vision Pro headset, and rumors suggest Google is developing its own VR/MR platform. A Reuters report noted that Zuckerberg even extended an olive branch to Google, welcoming Google Play apps on Meta Horizon OS “if they’re up for it.”

Opening the VR ecosystem carries risks. Fragmentation is a potential concern, and Meta will need to ensure a smooth user experience across various devices. Nonetheless, the potential benefits are undeniable. A wider range of VR/MR headsets catering to diverse needs, coupled with a more open app ecosystem, could accelerate VR adoption and usher in a new era of immersive computing. Whether Meta’s gamble on openness will pay off remains to be seen, but one thing’s certain: the VR landscape just got a whole lot more interesting.

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