Meta goes all-in on metaverse with Horizon OS open sourcing

Meta goes all-in on metaverse with Horizon OS open sourcing


23 April 2024

Meta has licensed the operating system for its Quest headsets to hardware vendors, including Lenovo and Asus. It's also creating a limited-run, gaming-focused Quest for Xbox.

On the topic of opening up, Meta advocates for new ways to discover alternative app shops. The company is promoting its experimental App Lab store and encouraging Google to integrate the Play Store into its operating system, Horizon OS.Meta is developing a spatial framework to make it easier for developers to transfer mobile apps to Horizon OS.

Horizon OS features the Horizon social layer, a 3D open-world platform similar to Roblox and The Sims. This is crucial for Meta. Meta has improved Horizon, bringing it to the web in 2D after a rocky start on the Quest. Any hardware firm that wants to build a device using Horizon OS will now help increase Horizon's social network reach, which Meta hopes to someday monetize through ads and commerce.

Aside from the social network tie-in and the requirement to use Qualcomm chips, Meta has yet to provide more details about the business terms of its Horizon OS license. "You can imagine a lightweight headset that pairs with your computer on your desk to provide the best work experience at home or anywhere you go," CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in a video introducing the development. "Or imagine one that's fully focused on watching immersive entertainment like movies and videos with the highest resolution OLED screens out there."

Zuckerberg has made it plain that he wants his company to be a more open platform than Apple's. He's clearly promoting Meta's Horizon OS as the Android equivalent to Apple's Vision Pro. Given that Android was more of a reaction to the iPhone, he'd probably prefer the parallel of how Microsoft established the early PC industry by licensing Windows.

Microsoft attempted to make Windows compatible with VR devices through the Windows Mixed Reality effort, but also supported Meta's original Oculus Rift. When Meta's headset was first released in 2016, it included an Xbox gamepad. It quickly obtained the ability to stream Xbox One games. Microsoft stated that it would only develop its own VR headset if it had "something unique to add."

Meta's relocation has been a long time coming. In a fall 2022 interview, Zuckerberg stated that the open environment allows for broader cooperation. "So Microsoft did not build the semiconductors, PCs, or the App Store. It was all this important stuff that was created around the environment. Similar to Android. And that's essentially what we want to create here: an open environment for the next generation of computing centered on virtual and augmented reality in the metaverse as a whole, which will necessitate all of these collaborations."

View them all