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How to use desktop apps in Windows Mixed Reality

It's a less than ideal scenario, for sure, but if you're going all in on the Windows Mixed Reality experience then that means gaining access to everything on your PC.

While you can't manipulate and interact with your win32 apps like you can those from the Microsoft Store, you can at least use them while you're inside your Mixed Reality headset. Here's how.

  1. Make sure your headset is on and your motion controllers are connected.
  2. Press the Windows button on either controller.
  3. Select all apps.
  4. Scroll down until you come to desktop.
  5. Click the trigger to open it.

Inside Windows Mixed Reality, your desktop becomes the app and everything inside it works just in that same window. It's not the most user-friendly experience, but it will at least give you access to a web browser that isn't Microsoft Edge or apps like Photoshop should you have a desire to use these.

Once you click out of the desktop app window it'll go to sleep as with any other application and you can resize it and pin it to a wall if you so wish. It's one of those situations that it's good to have in a pinch, but it's not how you'll get the best Mixed Reality experience.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

5 Comments
  • Did anyone try installing desktop apps on a Windows Server with Remote Desktop Services, and then run the apps as RemoteApps through the UWP Remote Desktop client?
    If anyone has a RDS account with access to RemoteApps around, I'd be curious to know how these are seen from WMR. This might allow to run Win32 apps in their individual UWP windows within Mixed Reality, even on HoloLens that doesn't support the Desktop view.
  • I was thinking about this too, it's an interesting option.
  • Today its a bit clunky and it has resolution and FOV problems, sure, but this is the future of computing. In fact, the ability to isolate yourself from the world is also a good possibility for productivity if it's an option (as they seem to be developing towards a device that alternates between AR/VR).
  • Great it's a beginning. I would like to have multi monitors with visual studio.... And others with visual studio code.
    Maybe some day.
  • Since I don't have a HMD (waiting on the right GPU) to check yet, is there a way to duplicate what is on the HMD to a monitor? I'm actually thinking of something specific, Steam's Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. In it, you have a player wearing the HMD looking at a bomb while the monitor shows another player instructions to instruct the HMD wearer. So, as someone I have 2 monitors, I'm wondering if there's a way to have the second player's content on one monitor while the other duplicates what the HMD wearing is doing, so people could potentially watch what's going on. Basically, can you have the HMD duplicated on one monitor and not the other?