Bad news for Apple and Linux fans, as Facebook announced its highly anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will only be available for Microsoft’s Windows. The Rift is probably the VR device that got the largest media coverage of all products of its kind, and Facebook’s decision to limit its availability will surely leave a lot of people disappointed.
“Our development for OS X and Linux has been paused in order to focus on delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content on Windows,” explained Atman Binstock, head of the Oculus at Facebook. However, the chief architect of the VR headset does not rule out a future version that can run on Apple and Linux platforms, but at least for now he declined to suggest a realistic timeline.
Still, Windows users should not get too ahead of themselves, as owning Microsoft’s operating system alone will not be enough. According to Binstock’s early estimates, a high –end graphics card and a latest generation processor will be required in order to smoothly run the Oculus Rift. In fact, the Facebook man suggests that by time the time it is released, there won’t be any laptop meeting the VR headset’s requirements.
Binstock published on Friday a suggested configuration for an enjoyable Rift experience, and it is extremely demanding. A graphics card equivalent to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 will be needed. As far as it goes for the processor, the requirements are slightly lower, but users will still need an Intel i5-4590 or newer chipset.
The Oculus Rift will need no less than 8GB of RAM, which many laptops come with these days, but the machine will also have to support HDMI 1.3 video output. The headset will also require two USB 3.0 slots, a feature which kind of makes it PC exclusive. And, of course, none of these will matter if you don’t run Windows 7 or a newer version on your computer.
Rift designers believe that owning a machine capable of rendering the optimal frame rates is essential to fully enjoy the product. “We believe this ‘it just works’ experience will be fundamental to VR’s success, given that an under-performing system will fail to deliver comfortable presence,” Binstock added in his online post.
In time, however, the cost of the components meeting Rift’s minimum requirements is likely to decrease, making the VR experience more affordable. For the time being, most of those interested in the system are app and game developers, who don’t really have trouble getting a high-end machine.
The Oculus Rift will become available for purchase in the first half of 2016, but not to Mac and Linux users. We shall wait and see if Facebook’s decision is the result of a secret partnership between the company and Microsoft, or if it simply considered that focusing on developing Rift for Windows only is more profitable. Until then, those in search for an early VR experience will better get Windows.
Image Source: Kit Guru