In the suddenly more heated VR/AR wars between Meta, Apple, Sony, and eventually Google and Samsung, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg just made a fascinating chess move. Meta just announced that its VR OS, now called Horizon OS, will work on devices beyond the Quest. And partners are already coming: Asus, Lenovo, and Microsoft.

The news, delivered in a blog post, reveals that Meta’s OS will be open to third parties, and that future headsets will all be able to connect via the same Meta Quest app on iOS and Android that currently exists – but its name will be changing to Meta Horizon.

Asus is making a “performance based” VR gaming headset under its Republic of Gamers brand, according to the post. Lenovo is also onboard for upcoming Meta Horizon OS-compatible VR devices (Lenovo already made the Oculus Rift S PC-connected headset with Meta, and has made lots of VR/AR products over the years). According to Meta, Lenovo’s headsets will focus on “productivity, learning, and entertainment.”

Meanwhile, there will also be an Xbox-branded Meta Quest coming as a limited edition, “inspired by Xbox” product with some involvement by Microsoft, although Meta’s vague on the details.

There are some big changes coming to how the Quest mixed reality software works, though: App Lab, a semi-hidden part of the Quest app store that’s been a big source of emerging software for years, is going to be a more visible part of the app store soon. And Meta is also promising an open mixed reality framework so that all these headsets and developers can start figuring out how AR-like experiences on future headsets can work better.

Meta’s CTO, Andrew Bosworth, hinted to CNET in a conversation a few weeks ago that Meta’s upcoming VR/AR devices could start expanding into new, more focused variants. That’s exactly what this move seems like: a chance to expand Meta’s footprint with other brands and designs. A fitness-focused headset would also seem like a logical move, but there’s no news on that front yet.

Will these “open” moves give Meta a better VR/AR foothold versus Apple’s Vision Pro, and whatever Google and Samsung are developing for their first mixed reality product? Is it even possible that Google and Samsung’s device – or even Apple’s, at some point – could work with Meta’s Horizon OS, too? 

It’s hard to tell, but anyone who’s been shopping for a Quest headset might want to think about whether they want to wait and see what all these other Quest-like headsets coming down the road could end up delivering, too.

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