Oct 3, 2017

Microsoft steps up bet on AR, VR

Microsoft's Alex Kipman showed off the latest Windows Mixed Reality headsets at an event in San Francisco. Photo: Ina Fried / Axios

As part of its focus on virtual and augmented reality, Microsoft has acquired Altspace VR, a struggling virtual reality social network that had been set to shut down until Redmond came calling.

Microsoft also used a San Francisco event to show off the latest Windows-based virtual reality headsets, including a new $499 model from Samsung and announced a free Halo-themed VR game. Also at the event, Intel announced it would broadcast some of the upcoming Winter Olympics in virtual reality.

The full Steam content library (one of the largest collections of VR titles) is also coming to Windows 10 consumers later this year (albeit in preview form).

As for Altspace, Microsoft didn't reveal the purchase price, but technical fellow Alex Kipman said that the majority of its employees have joined Microsoft. For now, Microsoft will keep the current Altspace experience going, including support for other platforms, Kipman said.

Why it matters: Having missed out on mobile, Microsoft is making a big bet on what it calls "mixed reality" — a field that spans augmented and virtual reality. A new update to Windows 10, coming next month, has support for both built-in.

Go deeper

The mystery of coronavirus superspreaders

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A small percentage of people — called superspreaders — may be responsible for a large number of COVID-19 infections, research is starting to indicate.

Why it matters: While there's no method to detect who these people are before they infect others, there are ways to control behaviors that cause superspreading events — a key issue as states start to reopen and debate what types of events are OK.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 5,931,112 — Total deaths: 357,929 — Total recoveries — 2,388,172Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,711,313 — Total deaths: 101,129 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. States: New York to allow private businesses to deny entry to customers without masks.
  4. Public health: Louisiana Sen. Cassidy wants more frequent testing of nursing home workers.
  5. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S. and was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. military, directing users to "get the facts about COVID-19."

Why it matters: The labels were added after criticism that Twitter had fact-checked tweets from President Trump about mail-in voting, but not other false claims from Chinese Communist Party officials and other U.S. adversaries.