Microsoft has confirmed that everyone owning a Windows Mixed Reality headset running on Windows 10 will be able to access SteamVR's extensive virtual reality library from 15 November.
Owners of these headsets have been asking for access to the software for a while now, and in August, the American tech giant promised it was working to bring StreamVR to its mixed reality products.
The SteamVR program was originally made available to software developers. However, on November 15th, anyone with access to one of the Windows-based mixed reality headsets will be able to use it.
Currently, users can access about 60 games and apps from the Windows Store, but the addition of SteamVR support means they'll be able to download many more titles via the popular PC games application.
That will include popular games such as Project Cars, and users will also be able to access third-party apps such as TiltBrush. Created by Google, the latter turns your surroundings into a virtual painting canvas.
Unfortunately, SteamVR is still in beta, and the firm is still going through the process of ironing out bugs. Based on that, Microsoft hasn't been able to say when the full version will launch.
Microsoft sees itself as a leader in augmented reality, although it faces competition from companies like Apple. The California-based tech firm recently unveiled a string of AR developments on iOS 11 and the new iPhone X.
Ian Hughes, an analyst at 451 Research, said that, while exciting, the technology is still evolving.
"AR changes the nature of what a display is, such as a TV, monitor or smartphone, all of which are solid screens, to a more natural human centric one with objects and data in the environment around us.
"We have evolved as spatial beings, but all our digital information and entertainment is presented on static flat surfaces, because that was the only way to do that.
"Consumer AR is still in a playful and gimmicky phase, and has been for a number of years, but with smartphone operating systems being given more AR capability more people are able to explore the concepts."
He believes the technology will make its greatest impact in the enterprise world. "The ease of development and availability of smartphone and tablet AR allows enterprise and industry to investigate the potential before investing in the current crop of AR headsets and glasses," he said.
"It is here in industry that AR starts to shine, hands free heads-up information for engineers helps them understand what they are working on in context. This leads to efficiency and safety gains, plus it levels up less skilled workers too, including meaningful remote assistance from experts.
"These views a further enhanced by the increase in Internet of Things (IoT) data, digital twins, that provide instrumentation and analytical diagnostics from inside and around complex machinery.
"This data can be overlaid onto the engineers view of the machine in-situ or at a remote location for training purposes. It is here we see AR as the user interface for IoT."
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