A new Windows Insider build adds the ability to launch classic Win32 desktop applications in Windows Mixed Reality.
Preview build 18329 adds “the ability to launch Desktop (Win32) applications (such as Spotify, Paint.NET, and Visual Studio Code) in Windows Mixed Reality, just like how you launch Store app.” Access the feature by bringing “up Pins Panel, then go to all apps, where you will find a folder named “Classic Apps (Beta)”. In this folder, you will be able to select and launch any Desktop (Win32) applications.”
We are expecting a major announcement from Microsoft later this month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The company released the standalone HoloLens AR headset in 2016 and is due to release a follow-up. In 2017, Microsoft equipped partners with its tracking technology to power a series of VR headsets. The company’s future plans in VR are unclear.
Microsoft supports Universal Windows Platform apps for virtual worlds to visit downloaded from the company’s storefront. The company also encourages developers to ship on Steam if they have a virtual world that’s built as a classic Win32 app. Traditional flat-screen UWP apps can also be pinned to surfaces in Microsoft’s home space. Until now, though, classic windows apps haven’t gotten the same treatment.
The feature is in development, according to Microsoft, and they are working to address bugs. So be sure to report the bug if you encounter a problem. The feature should work with multiple apps in a Microsoft-based VR headset, but it isn’t available on HoloLens. We haven’t tried the latest Windows Insider builds yet to to test out the functionality but we’ll update this post when we do.
Details added in an update on February 5, 2019.