Microsoft aims to make Windows more spatial with 'Volumetric Apps'

Microsoft aims to make Windows more spatial with 'Volumetric Apps'

Microsoft announced Volumetric Apps, a new Windows API to "take advantage of Meta Quest's unique capabilities".


Microsoft describes Volumetric Apps as Windows apps that extend into 3D space. At Microsoft Build, the company showed a short video (see below) of a Quest user interacting with the 3D model of an Xbox controller.

Microsoft aims to provide developers with an API to create such Windows apps and content. Developers can sign up for access to the Volumetric Apps API using an online form.

"Microsoft is looking for developers that produce or provide plug-ins for 3D Windows desktop applications or customers that work with 3D applications on Windows desktop applications who are interested in extending those applications into 3D content with mixed reality."


Why Volumetric Apps?

Microsoft announced a partnership with Meta in October 2022 and promised to bring Windows to Meta Quest. However, a corresponding solution has not yet materialized. Volumetric Apps are intended as a 3D extension of Windows, allowing Windows apps and their content to benefit more from Meta Quest's spatial capabilities.

The announcement didn't get much play at Microsoft Build, and it remains to be seen how serious Microsoft is about volumetric apps. Since Windows for Quest doesn't even exist yet, the intention to push the operating system further into 3D seems like an attempt to put the cart before the horse.


The partnership between Meta and Microsoft, announced in 2022, is slowly getting off the ground. In late 2023, Microsoft launched Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as simple 2D browser apps and Xbox Cloud Gaming on Quest, and in April, a limited edition Meta Quest with Xbox branding and included controller was announced.