There are currently many players in the mixed, virtual, and augmented reality markets, but things are still very fragmented and cut up across different platforms. Offering developers a solution to this problem, the VR open standard group Khronos Group created OpenXR, an open and royalty-free standard for VR and AR applications and devices. In a win for the initiative, Microsoft is now one of the growing list of companies to join in and support OpenXR.
— OpenXR (@OpenXR) November 1, 2017
The OpenXR standard eliminates the need for VR applications, games, and engines to be ported to different vendors' APIs. At the same time, for consumers, this fixes the problem where earn VR device can only run the apps that have been ported to its SDK. For developers, OpenXR enables applications to be written once to run on any VR system via two levels of API interfaces, as explained:
OpenXR defines two levels of API interfaces that a VR platform’s runtime can use to access the OpenXR ecosystem. Apps and engines use standardized interfaces to interrogate and drive devices. Devices can self-integrate to a standardized driver interface. Standardized hardware/software interfaces reduce fragmentation while leaving implementation details open to encourage industry innovation.
As Microsoft continues to push Windows Mixed Reality, the company is slowly working to becoming a big player in the VR and AR market. Their support of OpenXR is likely going to be one of the primary keys to the success of the standard in the months ahead. You can learn more about OpenXR and see a complete list of supporting companies by visiting their website.