Things might finally be really getting along for the company that rebooted the whole virtual reality hype. Perhaps taking advantage of the delay that HTC’s and Valve’s Vive VR headset will suffer in the next few months, Oculus has announced that the early build of the final version of its Rift headset has started shipping out to developers. While not exactly the final build itself, it does hint at Oculus’ confidence that it is near the promised consumer release of the hardware, and the software, of course, next quarter.
The shipment of headsets goes together with the launch of the Rift SDK 1.0. As the version number implies, that is practically the gold master of the first version for the tool that will let developers craft virtual reality experiences, be it games or immersive media, for the Oculus Rift. Oculus even explicitly says that SDK 1.0 as well as the software runtime is tied to the consumer version of the product.
As such, the rollout of headsets and software is being limited to developers who are already in the last stages of finishing their game or software for an eventual Q1 launch. That is also around the time the Rift is expected to launch commercially. Those eying a Q1 launch but don’t have the hardware yet can submit a preview of their app and hope Oculus responds positively in time.
In the meantime, developers still toying around with the idea or nowhere near ready for a launch together with the Rift are advised to continue using the DK2 hardware and SDK version 0.8. Oculus seems pretty confident that it is still on schedule for a first quarter historic launch.
In contrast, the HTC Vive, a product of a collaboration between the Taiwanese manufacturer and Valve, won’t be launching until April 2016, which might still be a generous estimate.