Microsoft had a special event for its Surface tablet in New York on Wednesday, but it also slipped in a few treats for gamers. Here's the three things you need to know:
New Windows 10 VR headsets
First up was the big announcement on the event, $299 virtual reality headsets for Windows 10 from HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and Acer. That's big news when the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both cost over $599 and require expensive PC setups to run. Microsoft promises these headsets, due next year, will "work with affordable laptops and PCs."
The headsets will work with the same Windows Holographic platform as the the company's high-end augmented reality visor, HoloLens. Microsoft categorically told us that it wouldn't comment on whether or not the new VR headsets will work with gaming (the fledgling Oculus Rift is compatible with the Xbox One, but only allows you to play Xbox One games in theater mode), but as it's spoken publicly about the new Scorpio console supporting VR we'd be willing to bet our limited edition Cortana figurine these new headsets will be games compatible come next year.
Integrated streaming for Windows 10 gaming
Microsoft is taking on Twitch. It will include streaming service Beam in the spring Windows 10 Creators Update for both PC and Xbox One. Beam lets you watch and stream gaming without the need for any special broadcasting software, but it also let's you interact with streamers and players. For instance you could set someone a challenge like 20 headshots in five minutes, or they could ask you to help choose their next course of action in a strategy game.
We knew this was coming when Microsoft used its considerable cash reserves to snap up Beam in August, now it'll be interesting to see how it competes with Twitch, which will remain on Xbox.
Custom tournament creator for multiplayer games
Xbox Live is getting more esports friendly with gamer-generated tournaments for Arena. It basically means you can set up your own bloodthirsty contests of gaming skill with minimum stress. It works across Xbox and Windows 10 devices, and supports custom rules and the ability to edit your guest list. Microsoft also promised an army of servers behind the scenes to avoid game-ruining lag.