Oculus has announced changes to its required and recommended specifications to run the Oculus Rift. The hardware hasn’t changed, but Windows 10 is now the only OS that will meet minimum specifications for the Oculus Rift and its software.
Windows 7 and 8.1 will continue to function for running the basic Oculus software, and application developers can set their own requirements for individual apps. Oculus says that this is a necessary change to deliver the best experience, as “[D]oing so requires taking full advantage of the latest technology”. They also note that both Windows 7 and 8.1 are only receiving security updates from Microsoft, which are set to be discontinued in January 2020 and January 2023, respectively. They also note that an overwhelming 95 percent of the install base already uses Windows 10. The requirements for the physical hardware don’t appear to have changed, requiring at minimum an Intel i3-6100 or a Ryzen 3 1200 or FX-4350 for AMD’s processors, 8GB of RAM, and either an Nvidia GTX 1050Ti or AMD Radeon RX-470.
You’ll still be able to get the same VR features and functions you have today, including things like responding to platform notifications, interacting with friends on the platform, managing your device, and running VR apps that don’t require Windows 10. You can still use Windows 7 and Windows 8 with most of Rift Core 2.0’s core functionality, but things like Oculus Desktop require Windows 10, as does the ability to run Dash as an overlay.
At the heart of changing the requirements is Rift Core 2.0. This new version features an entirely redesigned UI, multitasking, and Home, for which “Windows 10 is integral to supporting these features”. For users that don’t upgrade to Windows 10, the Oculus Rift headset and software will continue to function with current features.
It’s not really surprising to see this type of announcement. Windows 7 more or less replaced Windows XP as the go-to for the most stable version of Windows, but Microsoft supported XP for far longer than they ever intended to. This forced hardware manufacturers and software developers to continue supporting what was an archaic dinosaur by the time it died in 2014. Intel and AMD cut off support for anything older than Windows 10 with Kaby Lake and Ryzen, and while they haven’t cut support for Windows 7 itself, Nvidia has stopped supporting all 32-bit versions of Windows. Microsoft and other vendors do not want to put themselves in another Windows XP situation.
The page for Rift Core 2.0 notes that it is built in a framework called React VR, so it is possible that Oculus built it around DirectX 12, which is only supported on Windows 10. DirectX 12, along with the Khronos Foundation’s Vulkan and Apple’s Metal, differs from previous API’s in allowing developers to program at a lower level, reducing the performance overhead of graphics card drivers. VR is sensitive to any loss in performance and is a cutting-edge technology, so it’s likely Oculus wants to avoid anything with legacy baggage.
Are you affected by this announcement? Do you think Oculus is correct in this decision? Let us know in the comments.