SteamVR beta lets you organize desktop windows in your virtual world
From its latest beta, Valve’s SteamVR software can add floating desktop windows in VR games, allowing you to keep tabs on other apps without leaving VR. It’s a useful addition, allowing gamers to keep tabs on everything from Discord, to a Twitch chat, or Netflix during low-intensity play. On the road to virtual reality suggests you can even watch YouTube during longer flights by Elite dangerous.
The ability to interact with the rest of your desktop from the SteamVR dashboard isn’t a new feature, but recently Valve has made the system more flexible. Earlier this year, it added the ability to display individual app windows in the dashboard and be virtually attached to VR controllers In-game. This made apps visible at a glance, but until now it has lacked the ability to persistently float windows in-game.
With the latest version, you can still choose to have a window attached to your controller, or remove it to float it in virtual space. Windows are read-only while you’re playing a game, but you can open the SteamVR menu to interact with them using a VR controller as a mouse pointer.
The new floating windows are available from SteamVR version 1.19.6. This version of the software is currently available in beta, but it’s relatively easy to register through the SteamVR properties window (accessible by right-clicking on it in your Steam games list). Despite all the new features added to the VR platform, there is still no sign of SteamVR version 2.0 that Valve teased early last year.