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TechnologyMeta opens development of VR operating system to external hardware makers

Meta opens development of VR operating system to external hardware makers


Meta has announced plans to allow other hardware manufacturers access to its virtual reality operating system, Horizon OS, in a move that aims to supercharge adoption of VR technologies.

The social media giant's VR division, Reality Labs, has developed Horizon OS to power its popular Quest headsets. Now, companies like Lenovo, Asus and Microsoft will be able license this operating system to develop and sell their own VR headsets.

This open approach resembles strategies adopted by Google with Android and Microsoft with Windows. It gives consumers more options to choose VR headsets that run on a consistent operating system, rather than be locked into devices from a single manufacturer.

It also spreads the financial risk for Meta. Reality Labs has seen huge losses in recent years as Meta plows billions into VR R&D. Allowing partners to develop hardware can help expands the available market and generates more software revenue for Meta through its Horizon app store.

Meta is hoping Horizon OS becomes as ubiquitous in VR as Android is in smartphones. Just as Android smartphones come in many shapes and sizes from different brands, Meta envisions a future where the VR experience is standardized across devices regardless of manufacturer.

This interoperability is key for attracting developers and consumers. When there is one dominant operating system, it motivates creators to prioritize building for that platform knowing their work can reach a large audience. For users, it means knowing how to operate any VR device with familiar interface and apps.

However, with Apple also pursuing the AR/VR space, Meta can't afford to repeat mistakes of being locked into a single proprietary ecosystem. Its open licensing model positions Horizon OS as the alternative to Apple's likely closed approach, giving developers and partner companies more flexibility and ownership over the .

Only time will tell if Meta's long term Metaverse vision becomes reality. But in opening its VR operating system, the company has taken important steps towards establishing a universal platform that can drive broad adoption of virtual and augmented reality technologies.

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