SteamVR beta allows you to organize desktop windows within your virtual world

As of its latest beta, Valve’s SteamVR software can add floating desktop windows within virtual reality games, allowing you to monitor other apps without leaving VR. It’s a useful addition, allowing players to watch anything, from Discord, to a Twitch or Netflix chat during a lower-intensity game. Path to virtual reality suggests that you can even watch YouTube during longer flights to Dangerous elite.

The ability to interact with the rest of the desktop from the SteamVR dashboard is not a new feature, but Valve has recently made the system more flexible. Earlier this year the option to view individual application windows on the dashboard and be virtually connected to virtual reality controller games was added. This made the apps visible at a glance, but so far I didn’t have the ability to make windows float persistently.

With the latest version, you can still choose to have a window connected to the controller or remove it to make it float in the virtual space. Windows are only displayed while you are actually playing a game, but you can open the SteamVR menu to interact with them using a VR controller as your 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 is relatively easy to activate it through the SteamVR properties window (accessible by right-clicking on the Steam game list). While all the new features are being added to the virtual reality platform, there are still no signs of the SteamVR version 2.0 that Valve brought up early last year.

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