We tend to think that major tech companies are always in competition, like Microsoft and Apple in their decades-long war in the computer market, or Apple and Google in the mobile market. However, sometimes they can work together, and when they do it's usually a big deal.
That's the case with Facebook and Microsoft's big announcement at Facebook's recent "Step Into The Rift" event. Facebook was showing off the consumer model of its upcoming Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Remember that it bought Oculus last year for a cool $2 billion. "Virtual reality," or VR, is the general term for realistic computer-generated 3D worlds that you can interact with in real-time.
The Oculus hardware has always been good, but what no one knew was what kind of software support it was going to have. VR goggles need something to display, after all.
That leads us to the Facebook/Microsoft deal. Under the partnership, Oculus will ship with an Xbox One controller and an adapter so Oculus can plug into the Xbox One console. Given that Sony is launching its own VR headset for the rival PlayStation 4, having Oculus support keeps Microsoft competitive.
Also, because the Oculus uses the Xbox controller, it will be easier for developers to make games for it. They won't have to spend a lot of time and energy creating software for an all-new controller, plus existing Xbox games will work with it naturally.
Oculus does have its own controller called the Oculus Touch. It's both motion-controlled and button controlled, and there's one for each hand.
Microsoft also said that Windows 10 will support Oculus out of the box. As Business Insider points out, this is a win for Microsoft because it encourages gamers and VR enthusiasts to upgrade to Windows 10 when it arrives.
Of course, the Windows 10 upgrade is free, it's faster than Windows 7 and 8, and it's shipping with DirectX 12 for next-generation games, so most gamers are going to upgrade anyway.
Oculus Rift will arrive in Q1 2016. There's no pricing information yet, but if it's not too expensive, would you consider buying one? Let me know in the comments.