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 the Unity 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.
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.
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
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 2019 (16.2 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.||Be sure you install the following workloads:
Note: 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 16.2 or higher.
Windows 10 SDK (10.0.18362.0) (Manual install link)
|Provides the latest headers, libraries, metadata, and tools for building Windows 10 apps on HoloLens 2.||To build HoloLens 2 apps, you must install the Windows SDK, build 18362 or later.
If you are only developing applications for desktop Windows Mixed Reality headsets or HoloLens (1st gen), you can use the Windows SDK installed by Visual Studio 2017.
HoloLens 2 Emulator (March 2020 Update) (Install link: 10.0.18362.1056)
HoloLens (1st gen) Emulator (Install link: 10.0.17763.134)
|The 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 emulator.
Your system must support Hyper-V for the emulator installation to succeed. Reference the System Requirements section below for details.
Choose your engine
We typically recommend the Unity LTS (Long Term Support) stream as the best version with which to start new projects, updating to its latest revision to pick up the latest stable fixes.
The current recommendation is to use Unity 2018.4.x, which is the LTS build required for MRTK v2 below.
Some developers might want to use a different version of Unity for specific reasons. For those cases, Unity supports side-by-side installs of different versions.
See the Unity development overview to get started with Unity development for HoloLens 2 or Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets.
Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK)
Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK) v2 for Unity is an open source cross-platform development kit for mixed reality applications.
MRTK v2 is intended to accelerate development of applications targeting Microsoft HoloLens, Windows Mixed Reality immersive (VR) headsets, and the OpenVR platform. The project is aimed at reducing the barriers to entry in creating mixed reality applications and contributing back to the community as things evolve.
Unreal Engine 4 is a powerful, open source creation engine with full support for mixed reality in both C++ and Blueprints.
HoloLens support for Unreal Engine 4.24 is currently in beta.
See the Unreal development overview to get started with Unreal development for HoloLens 2.
OpenXR is an open royalty-free API standard from Khronos that provides engines native access to a wide range of devices from many vendors that span across the mixed reality spectrum. The BasicXrApp project demonstrates a simple OpenXR sample with two Visual Studio project files, one for both a Win32 desktop app and one for a UWP HoloLens 2 app.
The Windows Mixed Reality native app templates provide all of the essentials you need to start writing a mixed reality app using DirectX with native APIs. Includes a rendering loop (or "game loop"), a DeviceResources helper class to manage the Direct3D device and context, and a simple example hologram renderer. Available for Direct3D11 and Direct3D 12.
See the Native development overview to get started with native app development using WinRT or OpenXR for HoloLens 2 or Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets.
Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK)
The Mixed Reality Toolkit provides components and features that are intended to accelerate the development of applications targeting Microsoft HoloLens, Windows Mixed Reality headsets and OpenVR platform. The project is aimed at reducing barriers to entry, to create mixed reality applications and contribute back to the community as things evolve.
- Mixed Reality Toolkit - a collection of scripts and components intended to accelerate the development of mixed reality applications.
- Mixed Reality Toolkit-Unity - uses code from the base toolkit, making it easier to consume in Unity.
- Mixed Reality Companion Kit - code bits and components that might not run directly on HoloLens or immersive (VR) headsets, but instead pair with them to build experiences targeting Windows Mixed Reality.
Setting up your PC for mixed reality development
The Windows 10 SDK works best on the Windows 10 operating system. This SDK is also supported on Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2. Note that not all tools are supported on older operating systems.
For HoloLens development
When setting up your development PC for HoloLens development, please make sure it meets the system requirements for both Unity and Visual Studio. If you plan to use the HoloLens emulator, you'll want to make sure your PC meets the HoloLens emulator system requirements as well.
To get started with the HoloLens emulator, see Using the HoloLens emulator.
If you plan to develop for both HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality immersive (VR) headsets, use the system recommendations and requirements in the section below.
For immersive (VR) headset development
The following guidelines are the current minimum and recommended specs for your immersive (VR) headset development PC, and are updated regularly.
Do not confuse this with the minimum PC hardware compatibility guidelines, which outlines the consumer PC specs to which you should target your immersive (VR) headset app or game.
If your immersive headset development PC does not have full-sized HDMI and/or USB 3.0 ports, you'll need adapters to connect your headset.
There are currently known issues with some hardware configurations, particularly notebooks that have hybrid graphics.
|Processor||Notebook: Intel Mobile Core i5 7th generation CPU, Dual-Core with Hyper Threading Desktop: Intel Desktop i5 6th generation CPU, Dual-Core with Hyper Threading OR AMD FX4350 4.2Ghz Quad-Core equivalent||Desktop: Intel Desktop i7 6th generation (6 Core) OR AMD Ryzen 5 1600 (6 Core, 12 threads)|
|GPU||Notebook: NVIDIA GTX 965M, AMD RX 460M (2GB) equivalent or greater DX12 capable GPU Desktop: NVIDIA GTX 960/1050, AMD Radeon RX 460 (2GB) equivalent or greater DX12 capable GPU||Desktop: NVIDIA GTX 980/1060, AMD Radeon RX 480 (2GB) equivalent or greater DX12 capable GPU|
|GPU driver WDDM version||WDDM 2.2 driver|
|Thermal Design Power||15W or greater|
|Graphics display ports||1x available graphics display port for headset (HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 for 60Hz headsets, HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 for 90Hz headsets)|
|Display resolution||Resolution: SVGA (800x600) or greater Bit depth: 32 bits of color per pixel|
|Memory||8 GB of RAM or greater||16 GB of RAM or greater|
|Storage||>10 GB additional free space|
|USB Ports||1x available USB port for headset (USB 3.0 Type-A) Note: USB must supply a minimum of 900mA|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 4.0 (for accessory connectivity)|