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A look at Windows Mixed Reality's two different setup modes

Starting with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is pushing a brand new platform for VR and AR, called WRM, that's ultimate goal is to change the way you interact with Windows. Earlier this week, Microsoft demoed its plans for its new platform, and we published our very own in-depth look at the new WMR experience.

WMR is a huge addition to the Fall Creators Update. It's essentially its own OS for VR and AR. As such, it has its own settings, options, and features for users to take advantage of. There are two distinct modes that the user is asked to choose between when setting up WMR for the first time. If you're not privy to how VR works, you may not know which option to choose.

What's the difference between augmented and virtual reality?

When setting up your new WMR headset for the first time, you'll be asked to choose which mode you wish to use when in mixed reality. The two options are "Set me up for all experiences" or "Set me up for seated and standing." It is vital that you choose the correct setup for your environment to avoid any injury or other issues.

If you're new to WMR or VR, you may not know what the advantages and disadvantages are to each option. Here's a basic rundown of the pros and cons to each choice, and why you may or may not want to select each one.

See WMR headsets at Microsoft Store (opens in new tab)

Set up for all experiences

The first option is recommended by Microsoft and sets you up best for all the experiences WMR has to offer. This is the option to select if your physical environment around you is spacious, as it gives you the ability to move around freely in the real world while in WMR, which is much more immersive.

Unfortunately, this requires at least 1.5 meters by 2 meters of free space in the room where you're setting up WMR. That's just a minimum requirement, too. For the best experience, the more room, the better. This option will give you the ability to set yourself a virtual boarder, so you don't accidentally walk into any walls or furniture in your room.

Some apps and games may require the user to physically move around as well, and if your room is too small, then those experiences won't work as well for you. This option also gives you the freedom to sit, stand, walk, jump and move around at will. It's also best suited for use with a gamepad or dedicated WMR controllers.

The virtual boundary you can set up will appear in WMR only when you get too close to it. If you remain far enough away from the boundary, you won't see it in your view. This helps with keeping WiMR immersive and ensures you don't have to constantly worry about bumping into physical objects in the real world. WiMR will let you know before you get near an object.

You should also make sure that you have a cable that's long enough to accommodate the available space in your room. If the cable that's connected to your head mounted display (HMD) is too short, you may accidentally pull the cable out or be physically restricted to a smaller area than what is available to you.

Of course, the obvious disadvantage to this option is that it requires lots of room which not everybody has. The office I'm typing this from is just a bit smaller than 1.5 meters by 2 meters, which means I'm unable to use the recommended option. The setup process will refuse to continue if I'm unable to provide a boundary larger than 1.5 by 2 meters, which means I'm going to have to use the second option.

Set up for seated and standing

The second setup mode is the option you should choose if you don't have the recommended space that's required by the all experiences setup mode. This mode skips the boundary setup stage altogether, as it assumes you won't be moving around. This mode is great for those who are planning to stay seated or stand in a single position, whether that be in front your PC, at a desk, or in the middle of a room.

You are still free to move around in the physical world when selecting this mode, but WMR will not warn you when you're approaching objects in the real world, as it doesn't have a virtual boundary set up for you. It assumes that since your space is so small, you won't be moving around anyway.

This option has its own use cases, however. WMR is great for being immersed in a movie, video game or even working in apps like Outlook Mail and Word. WMR works with not only a gamepad or Mixed Reality controllers but also with a keyboard and mouse.

In my own use cases, when selecting the second option, more often than not I'm sitting in front of my desk. I'm a touch-typist, which means once I know where the keyboard is, I'm able to type without physically looking at it. This means I can type full Word documents or emails directly in WMR and even create my own virtual workspace.

WMR has full keyboard and mouse support, with keyboard shortcuts and a cursor that floats around in the virtual environment. I actually really like using mixed reality in this way, as it takes my desktop experience that I use on a monitor and puts it all around me.

Of course, both Mixed Reality controllers and gamepads work just as well when sitting down or standing still. This setup mode is best suited for those who won't be moving around physically in WMR and would much rather sit and watch content or play games for long periods of time while in the mixed reality environment.

Which should you choose?

Which option you choose will depend on your physical environment. If you have enough room for WMR to function at full capacity, you're going to want to select the "all experiences" option. This is the one that'll give you the best and most immersive experience overall. You don't have to walk around in this mode, but the option is there for you if you want it.

If you don't have the physical space but still want to experience an immersive experience, the second option will be best for you. You won't be able to move around as freely, but you'll still be immersed in the world of WMR.

You can preorder Windows Mixed Reality headsets (opens in new tab) now for expected release on October 17.

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

18 Comments
  • Or, you could simply choose neither and only use it for games.
  • Well you still need to set it up one of these ways so you can play games... I've seen you on other Microsoft news sites. All you do is bash everything Microsoft does, good or bad like it's your job lol. I'll admit you do occasionally make valid points, but most of the time it seems you're just trying to create a negative perception of Microsoft whether your point is valid or not.
  • I'm so disappointed that my i7 Dell XPS 13 I paid $1600 isn't WMR capable, I ran the test on the Mixed Reality checker last night. I thought they said modern ultrabooks could run this?
  • Doesn't the 13" model only have integrated graphics?
  • Yes
  • Are you running the Fall Creators Update? The regular vs. Ultra distinction is ONLY in the FCU, not the spring CU. Considering I ran Minecraft in VR on an HP Spectre x360, which has the same specs as your "$1600" Ultrabook, I'm guessing this is the issue, which will solve itself on Oct 17.
  • It's a issue. I have a R9 380X Nitro dedicated GPU and the assistant keeps saying that it doesn't support Windows Mixed Really. I don't have a MR headset, then I went for the development mode and I can "play" without problems. I think that the MR tech has a promising future.  Also, i love the fluent design on Mixed Really.
  • What about AR and the superimposing of apps on your real-world view - I thought that was going to be an option or did I terribly misunderstand this :D  
  • I thought the mapping capabilities inherited from the Hololens software would automatically reflect your room configuration.
  • Go with dell's one, It is both cheap and Have 110 FOV;")
  • I like that you can guide the cable to the back too. And it looks light and simple. I hope the fitting is tight and accurate.
  • I'm gonna try the area setup with this. I'm willing to rearrange the furniture in this studio too.
  • tried to setup WMR with my htc vive, no go on that front.
  • Mixed reality checker says my Surface book isn't compatible with WMR. The Microsoft website says it is though. Must only be the performnce enhanced edition.
  • Actually I have the original Surface Book model and it says mine is compatible as long as it detects the nvidia GPU. Sometimes it doesn't and I need to restart my Surface Book. Even though it's compatible it does say the Gpu or CPU might not be optimal.
  • I've been trying to get an answer to this for awhile now but does anyone know if Windows Mixed Reality games and apps will be compatible with the Hololens? It's supposed to be the same platform. I want to try out that WMR game Halo Recruit, but since I already have a Hololens, I was hoping I don't need to buy a WMR headset to experience WMR games and apps.
  • Unlikely right now since you need a hardware components to make it run. However in the near future Alex said that we will see devices that can do AR and VR. So we could see compatibility soon. So we could see that Microsoft will integrate VR based games into the OS via code for current HoloLens and future Hololens We will most likely see a future Surface mobile device and other Windows foldable devices will see hardware components that can run HoloLens apps and also VR apps and games. Majority of this can be done via code except the hardware part.
  • I have a small area so I'd have to go for the seated experiences only, though it's not a big deal. For the social aspect I'd much rather use AR anyhow. For me VR is for games.