One Program Lets You Use Your Entire PC In VR Without Any Fuss

These are the kinds of programs that change the way people look at technology. In this case, it's a program that, for some people, might actually make virtual reality a enjoyable, even practical, replacement for their monitor.

It's called Virtual Desktop, and it's available now.

This story originally appeared on Kotaku Australia.

The idea is simple. It's an application for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift -- sorry to the few people with access to StarVR -- that lets you use your computer desktop as if you were in a virtual environment.

It's got multi-monitor support. Support for 360 degree photos and videos. Music visualisation tools. An environment editor so you can spice up the background of your virtual "screen". You can watch streaming services like Netflix in VR without waiting for them to create a separate app.

And, most importantly, video games. Anything on Steam is playable. Things through third-party launchers (like Blizzard's are playable too. I'm willing to bet you could probably get DOSBox going without much fuss as well.

This is the kind of tool that changes VR from a gimmick to something that might be more usable on a day-to-day basis. I'm willing to bet that many have been thinking about VR only in terms of what games and specific applications they could use with it -- but not the potential for VR to be used as a monitor replacement.

And for those wondering how hard it'd be to read regular text, the creator, Guy Godin, posted on Reddit that "text is easily readable on a 2560x1440 screen" and the higher pixel fill rate and optics of the consumer-version headsets make a world of difference.

2D games also don't require a great deal of horsepower to run while in Virtual Desktop. "My app is built on top of DirectX and it is very lightweight," Godin added in another thread. "It's very optimized. The impact on the GPU is very low. I'm able to play HOTS with a 770 in VR fluidly to give you an example."

Virtual Desktop launches on March 28 and will cost US$15, according to Godin. A demo of the program for both the Rift's development kits is available now via Virtual Desktop's Steam page.

Note that you'll want Windows 10 to get the best experience though, as Windows 7 reportedly "doesn't have low latency APIs to capture the desktop at high frame rates to make a decent enough experience".



    "This is the kind of tool that changes VR from a gimmick to something that might be more usable on a day-to-day basis." As long as you sit in one place and don't want to move around at all. I think I'll wait for HoloLens, thanks.

    Does it pin your desktop to a point in space or is it always in front of you?

      Does it pin your desktop to a point in space
      That question is answered in the first 10 seconds of the embedded video ("yes").

      People usually sit in one place to use their monitors anyway. Not everyone wants a headset on their face for extended periods of time, but for others it can be a great way to reduce outside distractions - and the ability to have any number of virtual monitors all around you at no extra cost, even above you, could make this a fantastic app for some.

        Yeah, I wasn't sufficiently interested to sit through a six minute video. Thanks.

    I would've thought that it was enough to endure a VR headset for an hour or so when playing games. But to ask that you try working in a VR environment is going to be a challenge (to say the least).

    Solves nothing. You get the same "real estate" as a monitor.

      Actually no, you get real estate all around you, even behind, above and below you - you can cover every visible direction with virtual monitors if you want.

      Edit: Looking closer at the app, while it does support multiple virtual screens, it's unclear if you can have any number of them, or only one per physical monitor. Nonetheless, with the size and curvature options, you can still surround yourself with virtual screens.

      Last edited 30/03/16 11:45 am

        Uninterrupted (bezel-free) multi-monitor is nice. I wonder if it is limited to physical screens (for whatever reason) or if you can literally tell the pc/os/app to act as if you had 6 screens. I personally love the idea of doing CAD work in this environment, would be very cool and good for productivity with less distractions.

        That said, I hope it wouldn't lead to everyone coming to work, visoring up for 8 hours and going home without talking to anyone....

        If it's the same as the original you can only have the screens your PC has, but you can make you desktop HUGE, movies so big you need to look around to see the whole screen.

      Sure but you get it in a small headset, as opposed to a bulky monitor. That's definitely an improvement for me.

      Did you watch the video? It can be increased/decreased in size, multiple monitor setups (only showed two but could be more). Can also change the entire environment of your virtual office etc etc.

      It's not the be all and end all of VR apps but it's a damn awesome one to kickstart the desktop VR experience.

      Desktops are merely a limitation of using a monitor, as you're stuck with whatever space it is capable of delivering. But when theres no physical limitation, why is there a need for a desktop, outside of differentiating spaces for different uses?

      For a first run of this software, it makes some sense to just mimic that desktop experience, but moving forwards theres nothing to say you couldnt use the entire globe of visable space as your desktop, and put various windows or doors at different parts to interact with.

      This is for the future though, and for me the inevitable progression, so think about what could happen, rather than what is happening. Or to put it a different way, as GPU tech moves forwards, and can handle more, the effective usable space of the VR environment should expand accordingly.

      If not directly from this program, then by someone elses mod.

    yes yes yes!
    This is exactly what iv always wanted, I dont suffer from motion sickness so this should be perfect

      This wont cause motion sickness, I have used the early version on a DK1 and if anything would make you motion sick its the DK1.

      Last edited 30/03/16 2:01 pm

        From what iv read and seen there has been a wide audience who experiences motion sickness in just about any game they play or VR activity they undertake within the first 15min. CV1 seems to be a much needed revision of the DK units in terms of dizziness / nausea

          When I was in high school kids were complaining about motion sickness because of how real and 3d Quake1 was....... lol.

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