Valve, HP and Microsoft teamed up to create the new HP Reverb G2, and before it hits doorsteps this month there’s already a few software improvements to visual quality waiting for you in the latest version of Windows 10, which also affects some other Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets too.

Alex Vlachos, formerly of Valve and now working as a partner architect at Microsoft WMR, gave us a brief look at some of the visual improvements now live in the latest version of Windows 10.

The update features some notable tweaks including corrections to chromatic aberration and light leak, which, in addition to HP Reverb G2, also affect Samsung Odyssey+ and the original HP Reverb G1.

“For the Samsung Odyssey+, we were able to improve chromatic aberration artifacts at the periphery,” Vlachos explains in a blog post. “For the Reverb G1, we were able to improve chromatic aberration artifacts, reduce radial distortion, apply light leak correction, and improve rendering performance by about 8% in most applications from an updated and optimized hidden area mesh.”

And what does that mean exactly? Well, here’s a quick explanation about some of the visual software tweaks included in new Windows 10 update.

Valve Launches SteamVR 2.0, Brings Long-awaited Platform Features into VR

WMR Visual Quality Update

Correcting for visual artifacts isn’t simple work. Most modern VR headsets use Fresnel Lenses, a compact lens design created to have a larger aperture (also called ‘eye box’) and a shorter focal length than a standard, ‘smooth’ convex lens. Those circular ridges in your VR headset’s lenses are actually the edges of multiple refraction points which guide light to your eye. Fresnels are smaller and lighter, but introduce more artifacts into the mix that have to be accounted for ahead of time to get you the clearest picture.

Extremely large Fresnel lenses in Pimax “8K” | Photo by Road to VR

In the HP Reverb G2, those newly designed lenses (created by Valve) are supposed to drastically reduce God Rays, an artifact of Fresnel lenses that causes light to appear to stretch from the center of the lenses outward, creating an aura-like glow most prevalent in high contrast scenes.

Chromatic Aberration is another big offender too when it comes to visual clarity and accurate color reproduction. It’s an artifact caused by red, green, and blue light refracting through lenses differently, often causing a fraying of red and blue light most visible on a VR display’s periphery.

Uncorrected chromatic aberration (left), corrected image (right) | Image courtesy Microsoft

With the new software correction, Microsoft has applied its improved algorithms to better pre-distort the rendered image for a clearer, more color-accurate picture, guiding the light from those pixels more precisely where they need to be.

Another issue, which specifically affects LCD panels like the ones in the HP Reverb G2 and G1, is Light Leak—not the light leaking in through your headset’s nose hole, but rather the light leaking from display panels without perfect filters to match the chromatic range of red, green, and blue light. On LCD displays, a green pixel can leak a little red, which when viewed through a lens can appear as ghosting or even a magenta color fringe.

Simulated light leaked (left), corrected image (right) | Image courtesy Microsoft

To reduce Light Leak, Vlachos says Microsoft has developed correction algorithms reducing both color fringing and the overall color tinting, which he says works “in most situations where there is enough light in neighboring pixels to compensate for the artifacts.”

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Thankfully there are some very capable brains at Microsoft, Valve, and HP helping to address these common ‘VR pain points’ and make them more of a thing of the past—or at least a thing that only the most pedantic of the VR nerds will need to talk about when it comes to new VR headsets.

If you’re looking to see what all the fuss is about with the PC VR ecosystem’s latest headset, check out our two-part preview on the HP Reverb G2 [part 1part 2] detailing all of the headset’s improvements.

We also have our patented deep dive review coming soon, so stay tuned.

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  • TechPassion

    Fantastic update.

  • sfmike

    Great to see Microsoft not abandoning WMR even though it isn’t a huge moneymaker.

  • Chris Dunn

    Great update! Thank you…

  • Brandon Engelman

    How do I confirm it has been installed?

    • Edward Lack

      WMR is part of standard windows updates

  • silvaring

    Notably absent from this thread – The people that tell you how Microsoft aren’t interested in VR and how Facebook have done so much more to push the industry forward. Hope those people enjoy their Blue tinted VR goggles, I know it must be hard to overcome sunk cost fallacy.

    • Annalisa Zeman

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    • Arno van Wingerde

      Good point…. what I find confusing about MS viewpoint in VR is how they actively seem to downplay VR when it comes to the XBox, then go on to do absolutely wonderful things on the PC platform. I was keen to get into the VR thing. I basically had the choice between PSVR which has nice games but outdated hardware, the Quest2 which has untethered VR and the super duper game PC with the Reverb2, which to me represents the best option. I went with the Quest 2 as for under 500 I can get going. The reverb2 plus really good gaming rig would be over 2000…. But now that I enjoy VR so much, I might still add that along my Quest2!

      • Anonmon

        “I was keen to get into the VR thing. I basically had the choice between
        PSVR which has nice games but outdated hardware, the Quest2 which has
        untethered VR but Facebook, just Facebook, and the super duper game PC with the Reverb2,”
        Fixed that for you.

        • wotever99ninynine

          a worthwhile correction. not sure how the original poster missed that key point. facebook = deal breaker for me.

      • TechPassion

        Get G2 as well if you can afford it. Buy 3080 RTX for that or 6800 XT, but probably better for now to go for the RTX. If you decide to invest, wait till I would say 15th of January. We will see if Samsung Odyssey 2 will be presented or not and if 3080 RTX with 16 or 20GB of memory would be presented. For 2021 is better to have a card with 12+ GB of memory and not 8 or 10.

  • Bumpy

    WMR just works.

    People complain of no updates, it doesn’t need any; play your games in high res and enjoy.

  • TechPassion

    Would be great if the user could turn off Windows Mixed Reality home app, so it does not start with the headset plugged-in. I only use SteamVR and don’t care about WMR window. All that can be as virtual menu in VR and no need for separate app on taskbar.

  • Dmacell

    the screen on the G-2 looks amazing. Crystal clear and text is so easy to read

  • wotever99ninynine

    my computer cant update, ive tried everything, all the dism commancs, sfc, unninstalling antivirus, unplugging secondary hdd’s etc etc. still doesnt work, so i just block updates. when i finally get around to getting a new gpu i will reinstall a fresh version of windows and get it fully updated, but for now it is just too much work, with too much stuff to back up. although since i just bought a reverb g2 i might have to move my timeline up if i dont have this update. my last update was october 2020. is this wmr update before or after that update? i have some googling to do.