Install the tools

Get the tools you need to build applications for Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality immersive (VR) headsets. There is no separate SDK for Windows Mixed Reality development; you'll use Visual Studio with the Windows 10 SDK.

Don't have a mixed reality device? You can install the HoloLens emulator to test some functionality of mixed reality apps without a HoloLens. You can also use the Windows Mixed Reality simulator to test your mixed reality apps for immersive headsets.

We recommend installing either the Unity or Unreal game engine as the easiest way to get started creating mixed reality apps. However, you can also build against DirectX if you'd like to use a custom engine.

If you're using Unity, you can use Mixed Reality Toolkit for Unity's input simulation to test various types of input interactions such as hand-tracking and eye-tracking input. For Unreal projects, use the UX Tools plugin to test common input interactions and user experience features.

Tip

Bookmark this page and check it regularly to keep up-to-date on the most recent version of each tool recommended for mixed reality development.


Installation checklist

Tool Notes
Windows logo

Windows 10 (Manual install link)

Install the most recent version of Windows 10 so your PC's operating system matches the platform for which you're building mixed reality applications.
Installing Windows 10
You can install the most recent version of Windows 10 via Windows Update in Settings or by creating installation media, using the link in the left column.

See current release notes for information about the newest mixed reality features available with each release of Windows 10. Enable developer mode on your PC at Settings > Update & Security > For developers.

Note for enterprise and corporate-managed PCs
If your PC is managed by an your organization's IT department, you might need to contact them in order to update.

'N' versions of Windows
Windows Mixed Reality immersive (VR) headsets are not supported on 'N' versions of Windows.
Visual Studio logo image

Visual Studio 2019 (16.8 or higher) (Install link)

Fully-featured integrated development environment (IDE) for Windows and more. You'll use Visual Studio to write code, debug, test, and deploy.
Installing Visual Studio 2019
Be sure you install the following workloads:

● Desktop development with C++
● Universal Windows Platform (UWP) development
● Game development with Unity (if planning to use Unity)

Within the UWP workload, make sure the following components are included for installation:

● Windows 10 SDK version 10.0.19041.0 or 10.0.18362.0
● USB Device Connectivity (required to deploy/debug to HoloLens over USB)
● C++ (v142) Universal Windows Platform tools (required when using Unity)

Note about HoloLens (1st gen) and desktop Windows Mixed Reality headsets
If you are only developing applications for desktop Windows Mixed Reality headsets or HoloLens (1st gen), you can use Visual Studio 2017 and use the Windows SDK installed by it.

Known issues
There are some known issues with debugging mixed reality apps in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.0. Please ensure that you update to Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 or higher.
Visual Studio logo

HoloLens 2 Emulator (Windows Holographic, version 21H2 October 2021 Update) (Install link: 10.0.20348.1010)

HoloLens (1st gen) Emulator (Install link: 10.0.17763.134)

The optional emulator lets you run applications on a HoloLens virtual machine image without a physical HoloLens.

See Using the HoloLens emulator for more information on getting started with the optional emulator.

Your system must support Hyper-V for the emulator installation to succeed. Reference the System Requirements section below for details.

Note on HoloLens (1st gen) Emulator
Visual Studio 2017 is required to successfully complete the installation. If you're installing the HoloLens (1st gen) emulator with Visual Studio 2019 you need to deselect the VS templates and install them from the Visual Studio Marketplace.

Install your engine of choice

Now that you have your Windows 10, Visual Studio, and Windows 10 SDK ready to go, let's install and setup the engine of your choice.

Troubleshooting

Setting Developer Mode is grayed out

If you're running into issues enabling Developer Mode on your device you might not be the device owner. In multi-user mode, the person who uses the device first is the device owner - any subsequent users won't have the required permissions to enable Developer Mode or other configuration changes. However, there is an exception where the first user may not be the device owner in an Autopilot environment, which is detailed in the HoloLens security documentation.

Possible solutions include:

Note

You can learn more about device management in the HoloLens device management overview.

I can't deploy over USB

If you're not able to deploy an application directly over USB, make sure you've met all the installation requirements listed above and follow our step-by-step tutorial.