Want an Xbox VR headset? You will be able to get one soon, sort of.

 Mock of a device similar to the Meta Quest inspired by Xbox.
Mock of a device similar to the Meta Quest inspired by Xbox.

What you need to know

  • Meta just announced that the operating system that powers its popular virtual reality headsets will be available to other manufacturers.

  • Microsoft, ASUS, and Lenovo are among the manufacturers that will produce devices running Meta Horizon OS.

  • Meta and Microsoft will work together to create a limited-edition Meta Quest that's inspired by Xbox.

  • Microsoft and Meta already partnered together to get Xbox Cloud Gaming to work on Meta Quest, allowing Game Pass subscribers to stream games to the VR headset.

Virtual reality enthusiasts have clamored for Microsoft and its Xbox team to embrace VR for years. Now, an Xbox-inspired Meta Quest is on the way. That's not the news VR fanatics who love Xbox may want to hear, but at least there will be a mixed reality headset with Xbox branding in the future.

Meta has worked on creating standalone virtual reality experiences for a decade, and now the company wants to expand the range of devices using Meta software. Meta Horizon OS takes the augmented reality and virtual reality technology Meta has made for its Meta Quest headsets and makes it available to other manufacturers. Microsoft, ASUS, and Lenovo are the first companies confirmed to have headsets on the way that will run Meta Horizon OS.

Before you get excited, there's no indication that the Xbox-inspired Meta Quest will deliver an augmented reality version of Halo or let you mix reality with your favorite Forza track. Meta highlighted its partnership with Microsoft to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to Meta Quest, which allows people to play games on the large virtual screens provided by the headset. That will presumably be a major part of the Xbox connection of the soon-to-be-released Meta Quest inspired by Xbox.

Microsoft and Meta Quest

Meta Quest 3
Meta Quest 3

Read more

- Meta Quest 3 puts Microsoft HoloLens to shame
- These reported PSVR 2 sales figures prove that Xbox was right to skip VR
- Want Xbox VR? Here's what Xbox's Matt Booty had to say about it.
- Microsoft just killed Windows Mixed Reality but Meta Quest is here to save the day

Meta's announcement confirmed that a limited-edition Meta Quest that is "inspired by Xbox" is on the way. But apart from a short snippet, we don't have many details of what that headset will look like or how it will be different than the Meta Quest 3 or any other available headset.

"Xbox and Meta teamed up last year to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) to Meta Quest, letting people play Xbox games on a large 2D virtual screen in mixed reality. Now, we’re working together again to create a limited-edition Meta Quest, inspired by Xbox," said Meta.

I speculate that the Xbox-inspired Meta Quest will feature some green accents and come with a trial of Game Pass. Meta didn't hint toward that, but it's quite common for hardware to come with a Game Pass trial, so it only seems natural that a Meta Quest inspired by Xbox would serve as an entry point for game streaming and the other perks of Game Pass.

The photo shared by Meta (shown above) is not a render of an actual product, so the Xbox-inspired Meta Quest could look different.

Microsoft killed Windows Mixed Reality last year, and to be honest the platform was on life support for a while before that. But the tech giant has embraced Meta Quest increasingly over the last year. Xbox Cloud Gaming made its way to Meta's mixed reality headsets in 2023 and you can even use Microsoft's Office applications on Meta Quest.

Embracing Meta Quest allows Microsoft to have a presence in virtual and mixed reality without having to invest as heavily as it did to maintain Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens. Meta can do all the heavy lifting and even make an operating system other manufacturers can use. Then Microsoft can make its most popular apps and services available on that platform.

Xbox, Arm, and Meta Quest

Meta Quest 3
Meta Quest 3

At the moment, Microsoft supports Meta Quest by having Xbox Cloud Gaming available on Meta's mixed reality headsets. There's no native way to play Xbox games on Meta Quest, but perhaps there could be a future in which an Arm-powered Meta Quest headset can play Xbox games.

2024 is the year of Arm computing, thanks in large part to the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processors that will ship later this year. PC makers are taking Arm  seriously, and we expect to see a Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 powered by Arm chips in the near future.

But it's not just Qualcomm's chips that could advance Arm computing. In fact, the next evolution of Arm chips may involve company's other than Qualcomm. Qualcomm's license is set to expire this year, opening a path for Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD to make Arm processors. Notably, AMD partners with Microsoft to make chips that power Xbox consoles.

Microsoft is rumored to have interest in using Arm processors to power Xbox hardware. Perhaps there's a chance we could see Arm make another gaming leap into powering Xbox games on Meta Quest or a future mixed reality headset from Meta? Right now emulation is needed to run x86 programs on an Arm processor, but Qualcomm has shown that's possible by playing Baldur's Gate 3 at 30 FPS through emulation.

Of course, these are more dreams based on emerging technologies than anything confirmed to be on the way. We'll have to wait to see what Microsoft and Meta create when forming a Meta Quest inspired by Xbox.