Porting VR apps to Windows Mixed Reality

Windows 10 includes support for immersive and holographic headsets. If you've built content for other devices like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, they have dependencies on libraries that exist above the operating system's platform API. Bringing existing Win32 Unity VR apps over to Windows Mixed Reality involves retargeting usage of vendor-specific VR SDKs to Unity's cross-vendor VR APIs.

Porting requirements

At a high level, the following steps are involved in porting existing content:

  1. Make sure your PC is running the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (16299). We no longer recommend receiving preview builds from the Insider Skip Ahead ring, as those builds won't be the most stable for mixed reality development.
  2. Upgrade to the latest version of your graphics or game engine. Game engines will need to support the Windows 10 SDK version 10.0.15063.0 (released in April 2017) or higher.
  3. Upgrade any middleware, plug-ins, or components. If your app contains any components, it's a good idea to upgrade to the latest version.
  4. Remove dependencies on duplicate SDKs. Depending on which device your content was targeting, you'll need to remove or conditionally compile out that SDK so you can target the Windows APIs instead. An example of this scenario would be SteamVR.
  5. Work through build issues. At this point, the porting exercise is specific to your app, your engine, and the component dependencies you have.

Common porting steps

1. Make sure you have the right development hardware

The VR enthusiast guide page lists the recommended development hardware.

2. Upgrade to the latest flight of Windows 10

The Windows Mixed Reality platform is still under active development. We recommend joining the Windows Insider Program to access the "Windows Insider Fast" flight.

  1. Install the Windows 10 Creators Update
  2. Join the Windows Insider Program.
  3. Enable Developer Mode
  4. Switch to the Windows Insider Fast flights through Settings > Update & Security Section

3. Upgrade to the most recent build of Visual Studio

  • If you're using Visual Studio, then upgrade to the most recent build
  • See Install the tools page under Visual Studio 2019

4. Choose the correct Adapter

  • In systems like notebooks with two GPUs, target the correct adapter. This applies to Unity and native DirectX apps where a ID3D11Device is created, either explicitly or implicitly (Media Foundation), for its functionality.

Unity porting guidance

1. Review the common porting steps listed above

Review the common steps listed above to make sure your development environment is set up correctly. In step #3, if you're using Visual Studio you should select the Game Development with Unity workload. You may deselect the "Unity Editor optional" component since you'll be installing a newer version of Unity in the next step.

2. Upgrade to the latest public build of Unity with Windows MR Support

  1. Download the latest recommended public build of Unity with mixed reality support.
  2. Save a copy of your project before you get started
  3. Review the documentation available from Unity on upgrading if your project was built on an older version of Unity.
  4. Follow the instructions on Unity's site for using their automatic API updater
  5. Check and see if there are additional changes that you need to make to get your project running, and work through any remaining errors and warnings.


If you have middleware that you depend on, check that you're using the latest release (more details in step 3 below).

3. Upgrade your middleware to the latest versions

With any Unity update, there's a good chance that you'll need to update one or more middleware packages that your game or application depends on. Additionally, being up to date with the latest middleware increases the likelihood of success throughout the rest of the porting process.

4. Target your application to run on Win32

From inside your Unity application:

  • Navigate to File -> Build Settings
  • Select "PC, Mac, Linux Standalone"
  • Set target platform to "Windows"
  • Set architecture to "x86" Select "Switch Platform"


If your application has any dependencies on device-specific services, such as match making from Steam, you'll need to disable them at this step. You can hook up to the equivalent services that Windows provides later on.

5. Setup your Windows Mixed Reality hardware

  1. Review steps in Immersive headset setup
  2. Learn about Using the Windows Mixed Reality simulator and Navigating the Windows Mixed Reality home

6. Target your application to run on Windows Mixed Reality

  1. First, you must remove or conditionally compile out any other library support specific to a particular VR SDK. Those assets frequently change settings and properties on your project in ways that are incompatible with other VR SDKs, such as Windows Mixed Reality.
    • For example, if your project references the SteamVR SDK, you'll need to update your project to instead use Unity's common VR APIs that support both Windows Mixed Reality and SteamVR.
    • Specific steps for conditionally excluding other VR SDKs are coming soon.
  2. In your Unity project, target the Windows 10 SDK
  3. For each scene, setup the camera

7. Use the stage to place content on the floor

You can build Mixed Reality experiences across a wide range of experience scales.

If you're porting a seated-scale experience, you must ensure Unity is set to the Stationary tracking space type:


This above code sets Unity's world coordinate system to track the stationary frame of reference. In the Stationary tracking mode, content placed in the editor just in front of the camera's default location (forward is -Z) appears in front of the user when the app launches. To recenter the user's seated origin, you can call Unity's XR.InputTracking.Recenter method.

If you're porting a standing-scale experience or room-scale experience, you'll be placing content relative to the floor. You reason about the user's floor using the spatial stage, which represents the user's defined floor-level origin and optional room boundary, set up during first run. For these experiences, you must ensure Unity is set to the RoomScale tracking space type. While RoomScale is the default, you'll want to set it explicitly and ensure you get back true, to catch situations where the user has moved their computer away from the room they calibrated:

if (XRDevice.SetTrackingSpaceType(TrackingSpaceType.RoomScale))
    // RoomScale mode was set successfully.  App can now assume that y=0 in Unity world coordinate represents the floor.
    // RoomScale mode was not set successfully.  App cannot make assumptions about where the floor plane is.

Once your app successfully sets the RoomScale tracking space type, content placed on the y=0 plane will appear on the floor. The origin at (0, 0, 0) will be the specific place on the floor where the user stood during room setup, with -Z representing the forward direction they were facing during setup.

In script code, you can then call the TryGetGeometry method on you're the UnityEngine.Experimental.XR.Boundary type to get a boundary polygon, specifying a boundary type of TrackedArea. If the user defined a boundary (you get back a list of vertices), it's safe to deliver a room-scale experience to the user, where they can walk around the scene you create.

The system will automatically render the boundary when the user approaches it. Your app does not need to use this polygon to render the boundary itself.

For more information, see the Coordinate systems in Unity page.

Example of results:

Example of results

Algorithm is based on a blog by Daniel Smilkov: Largest rectangle in a polygon

8. Work through your input model

Each game or application targeting an existing HMD will have a set of inputs that it handles, types of inputs that it needs for the experience, and specific APIs that it calls to get those inputs. We've invested in trying to make it as simple and straightforward as possible to take advantage of the inputs available in Windows Mixed Reality.

Read through the input porting guide for Unity in the adjacent tab for details of how Windows Mixed Reality exposes input, and how that maps to what your application may do today.

9. Performance testing and tuning

Windows Mixed Reality will be available on a broad class of devices, ranging from high end gaming PCs, down to broad market mainstream PCs. Depending on what market you're targeting, there's a significant difference in the available compute and graphics budgets for your application. During this porting exercise, you're likely leveraging a premium PC, and have had significant compute and graphics budgets available to your app. If you wish to make your app available to a broader audience, you should test and profile your app on the representative hardware that you wish to target.

Both Unity and Visual Studio include performance profilers, and both Microsoft and Intel publish guidelines on performance profiling and optimization. There's an extensive discussion of performance available at Understanding Performance for Mixed Reality. Further, there are specific details for Unity under Performance Recommendations for Unity.

Unreal porting guidance


If you're using HP Reverb G2 controllers, please refer to this article for additional input mapping instructions.

See also