Oculus Rift Core 2.0 Update Now Available in Beta – Hands-on with Home & Dash

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Announced back in October, Oculus is launching the Rift Core 2.0 update today in beta, a major overhaul to the platform’s underlying experience. The update not only rebuilds the default ‘Home’ environment with huge customization potential, it also introduces ‘Dash’, a new take on the former Universal Menu, which also allows you to use desktop PC applications from within any VR app.

The Rift Core 2.0 update is now available in beta. You can download it and give it a go for yourself by opting in to the Public Test Channel through the Oculus desktop application (see instructions here), it may take some time to roll out to everyone.

Oculus Home

‘Home’ is the place where you go when you put on your Rift but you haven’t yet launched a VR app. Previously it was a static environment (save for a certain wrinkled carpet) that served as a simple Store and Library browser for Oculus content. In the Rift Core 2.0 update, those browsing functions have been moved to Dash (more on that below), which frees up Home to become your personal(izeable) virtual space.

With the beta launch, everyone’s Home will have the same floorplan, a rectangular room that’s closed on one side (with a fireplace in the corner) and open-air on the other. However, you can change the look and feel of the room via a menu, including the outside environment, which allows you to drastically change the mood with just a few clicks.

Once you pick out the basic look and feel you can start digging through a gallery of virtual items with which you can populate the environment. These items range from pieces of furniture to rocks, plants, decorations, and more. Between the items available and cobbling together entirely new items by using what’s available as building blocks, quite a bit of time could be spent getting your space just right. While many of the items are static, many objects abide by physics and some—like the light gun and the bow—are properly interactive, allowing you to pick them up and fire projectiles.

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You’ll start with a default set of objects, many of which may look familiar if you’ve played Oculus first-party titles like Toy Box & Farlands, but you can also unlock new objects by playing certain games. Once you unlock some new stuff for your Home, you’ll be able to redeem it via a menu which pops up a little loot box in front of you, which you smash on the ground, and out pop your new items. For now, Oculus controls when and how you unlock new items, but the company says they’re thinking about how third-party developers could have their games interoperate with Home.

Hardly Social For Now

One aspect of Home that Oculus touted during its announcement was that it will eventually be a persistent and social environment where you could hang out and have fun with friends. While that plan is still on the roadmap, in the initial beta launch there’s no ability for two friends to be in the same Home space together. The most ‘social’ thing you can do is visit a friend’s space solo to see how they’ve decorated it, but even the ‘persistence’ that Oculus had talked about isn’t here yet, meaning there’s no way for you to leave any trace that you’ve been there.

Oculus says that over time the plan is to layer in social features like persistence and true multiplayer, and that—over the next year or so—people can expect to see more metaverse-like interactions coming to Home.

Dash

‘Dash’ is the replacement for the old Universal Menu—that menu you could pull up in the middle of any VR game to look at your friends list and make a few other adjustments to your experience. While the old Universal Menu has changed little from launch, and was built for navigation with a gamepad, Dash is fundamentally designed for the Touch motion controllers (though Oculus says using a gamepad will still mostly work).

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The new Dash can be called up during any VR game, including the entire Library and Store menus, and now floats in front of you while you’re inside the game rather than taking you into a separate space. That makes interacting with Dash a lot more fluid, and means you don’t have to completely leave your current game to browse the store or launch a new one.

Oculus Desktop

Image courtesy Oculus

With Dash, Oculus is also making their first steps toward making VR into a computing platform. Oculus Desktop, which is part of Dash, allows you to pull up your PC desktop inside of any VR application and interact with it as you’d expect, keyboard and all. Interestingly, the floating keyboard that you’ll see pop up for entering text is Windows’ own On Screen Keyboard, which means you’re getting system-level text input which also benefits from predictive typing.

Oculus is taking things one step further than other virtual desktop applications by allowing you to grab windows and pull them out of your desktop and into their own separate window in your virtual space. That means you can easily configure your virtual computing space as you see fit. For instance, you might put Discord to your left, Spotify in the middle, and Messenger on the right, giving you quick access to social channels and music without taking off your headset.

Interestingly, while the Windows Mixed Reality platform offers similar functionality of being able to bring flat desktop apps into your virtual environment, it only works with apps built on Microsoft’s UWP platform (though you can pull up a full desktop view to see non-UWP apps sitting on your desktop). On the other hand, Oculus’ virtual windowing tech works with any app on your desktop, UWP or not.

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The hope is that Dash and Oculus Desktop will make being in VR more seamless by making it easier to multi-task and not cutting you off so drastically from the usual functions of your computer.

While Oculus Desktop is the start of VR as a computing platform for the company, even Oculus admits that the resolution of the Rift isn’t high enough for most users to warrant using VR for full-time productivity computing. In fact, for the initial beta release, you won’t be able to use your desktop mouse (though your keyboard should work fine). Oculus says they’re still working on the mouse implementation for those that want to use Oculus Desktop like a traditional desktop computer, but for now a workaround is to enable ‘Pointer Trails’ which will let you see where the mouse is. However, the company says that the way they’ve built the underlying architecture—which involved some collaboration with AMD and NVIDIA—allows Oculus Desktop to scale very well with increasing headset resolution. The implication by Oculus is that they’re making a deep investment in this tech so that it will evolve alongside improvements in hardware.

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  • Paul Lynch

    Ooo, they mention higher resolutions so is a new headset incoming? Will this update be across the gear vr platform aswell (no doubt a scaled down version)? Exciting times we live in!

    • Drew Patterson

      Only for Rift sadly. 6DOF tracking is necessary as well as much more powerful hardware to render the environments and virtual desktops.

    • benz145

      Seems unlikely it will come to Gear, though it would certainly be nice (and maybe even essential) to find a way to mirror your smartphone into the virtual environment.

      Oculus had initially tried to paid the Gear VR and Rift software development together but found that it was restrictive. Around the time that Brendan Iribe stepped down as CEO they said they were unlinking the two platforms in a more significant way so that they could find their own unique development paths.

      • 12Danny123

        I don’t think anyone should be surprised that it was restrictive and that they are unlinking them. One side is essentially an OS that they can control (Fork Android) Whereas one is closed source and control by someone else (Microsoft) and is treated as an app on top of an OS (Oculus)

  • Can’t wait to try it!

  • Justos

    Reading reports on Reddit that picture quality is surprisingly clear. Excited to try this out! Thanks Oculus!

    • Drew Patterson

      It is, VERY clear. Got to play with it a bit today during my lunch break.

      • Vivid

        That is unbelievable! Read someone saying on Reddit that the screens feel closer to the actual monitors. I find that hard to believe, but even if it is close, it’d be so great. I’m wondering how they can increase the resolution without actually changing the hardware….but anyway, can’t wait to go home and give it a go!

        • Pablo C

          The monitor is bigger within the rift, so no matter the resolution, you can read text as easy as within the real monitor.

    • Adrian Meredith

      Yes the clarity is a big improvement over bigscreen. Unfortunately that’s the only positive thing about it, the UX is horrible and it’s very buggy. Still a long way off till it’s really usable

      • Dan

        What makes the UX horrible and buggy?

        • Adrian Meredith

          I only used it briefly (messed around the home space, changed settings played some hearthstone).

          Its more difficult to find things, i haven’t found a way to dismiss it when in desktop mode and you can’t move the central position for example pushing it further away. Theres a ton if minor bugs which meant its not really practical as a daily driver.

          • HomeAudio

            Looks like it needs only few small iimprovements… for sure not tons. Anyway – it is Beta for now.

          • James Andre

            you can move it back… just grab it and use the thumbstick up and down like any object in the new home it acts like a leash.

          • James Andre

            they need a better tutorial :)

    • Didn’t experience an improvement myself.

    • Thomas Van Iseghem

      I was amazed when especially when I looked at my monitor, it looks like the monitor is being supersampled 3x or something! Was a little sceptical but ended up loving dash

  • Ryan

    I’m surprised there is no mention that the new Oculus Home is basically like SteamVR home, except social is currently working in SteamVR Home.

    • Ombra Alberto

      zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Ombra Alberto

      the two works are not comparable. They are two completely different things.

    • Suitch

      The primary purpose is the interface. The home is a useless addition in BOTH platforms.

      • JonathanC

        Im hoping they add an option to disable / remove home and just use dash….

    • Pablo C

      I think oculus, unavoidable, follows steam on game handling (which is great). I mean, Steam has been on this for decades, they know how to handle games better than anyone.

  • Firestorm185

    Anyone else try out the cartridge system yet? I’m finding taking the cartridges back out of the virtual console after putting them in can make the cartidge fly out of my hand. xD

  • Oculus with Dash 2 is not usable for web browsing or viewing/working with your monitors. Text still very blurry. Resolution is still the problem. Text on Samsung Odyssey HMD is much much better by comparison. Night and day. I was hoping they could improve it via software, but I guess not without a completely new headset. It’s back to the Samsung HMD for me.

    • Lulu Vi Britannia

      Try Super Sampling to increase the resolution… or simply make the virtual screens bigger.

    • Thomas Van Iseghem

      That’s strange, everyone including me is so impressed by the dark magic they performed to make the monitor so clear. Try to go to your settings and turn off automatic quality. I’ve got i5 4600, gtx 1070 and 16gb ram and I can crank the settings to max

  • Pablo C

    It doesn´t work with the new Nvidia drivers, so don´t update, no matter what Oculus sais.

    • Lulu Vi Britannia

      Wrong. I actually HAD to update to the latest drivers for this to work xD. And yes, it works fine.
      Your problem comes from elsewhere, you can ask around to solve it if you need it ;) .

      • Pablo C

        When I just installed the Core 2.0 I had the old Nvidia driver (388.38) and it actually worked. Then, I installed version 388.43 and now the Oculus store is telling me I have to update the drivers to the 388.38 version in order to use this beta( !!). Do you have the 388.43 version?

        • Lulu Vi Britannia

          I was about to check, but it just updated and now I have the 388.59 version lol. But just like you, I updated my drivers when I installed Rift Core 2, so I should have gotten the latest version (388.43 then).

          Anyway, it works with 388.59 for sure ^^.

          • Pablo C

            Actually, I re updated the drivers, and it works perfectly now. I have to say, I´m impressed.

          • Lulu Vi Britannia

            Ok, so I think you gave me your curse: now I can’t use Oculus Desktop, even with the latest drivers xD!

            I tried to downgrade and reugrade my driver, it never worked again. I lost the freaking Oculus Desktop, and now even Virtual Desktop is broken! xD

            Did you do anything else than updating the driver, by any chance?

          • Pablo C

            Sorry to hear that. I think what happened to me is that Windows updated after the GFX drive did. So I´d suggest re install the last drivers. And I´d suggest doing a clean nvidia driver installation.

          • Lulu Vi Britannia

            No problem don’t worry, it’s not really your fault xD!

            I studied the problem, that occurs only when I start using Oculus Desktop. For now I can use Virtual Desktop and the Oculus Home 2, but if by mistake I click on Oculus Desktop, everything breaks xD! It’s a shame, Dash the most important feature to me xD!

            I’ll report that to Oculus, I guess.

  • Edward Morgan


    Oculus is taking things one step further than other virtual desktop applications by allowing you to grab windows and pull them out of your desktop and into their own separate window in your virtual space.”

    MOST other virtual desktop applications. The ability to “pop” windows free was why I wound up paying for VR Toolbox instead of Virtual Desktop or slumming it in the cheap (free) seats with Bigscreen.

    That said, I’m amazed how clear text is in Oculus’ desktop projection. There is some dark magic going on in there.

  • PJ

    How the hell have they made the text so clear, it’s as though it’s magically increased the resolution it’s that impressive, very VERY impressed with this

    • E.T. Deubner

      Cool!! I was already very impressed with the resolution on VR Toolbox. I use it all the time over my regular monitor. Can’t wait to give this a go!!

      • PJ

        Never used VR Tool Box, any good?

        • E.T. Deubner

          I liked it better than the other options. Lots of
          configuration options. You can have your desktop plus a built in web browser (chromium). As many screens of that as you want. And if you have a multi monitor setup it translates very well into the virtual space. The mouse with touch was almost more intuitive than outside VR standard mouse. Still can’t do system side stuff. Task manager, etc. BUT, you can use your regular mouse anytime to get around that. A wireless mouse works great for this set up.

          Just make sure you pay attention during tutorial. Some of the main options aren’t so intuitive.

          And a lot of the setup / custom config are only accessible on the flat desktop itself.

          • PJ

            I’ll give it ago, the more VR the better even it Just desktop usage

  • Cool! I’ve registered to the beta and I’m willing to try it!

  • Hi. How did you screencast windows desktop on dash? what did you use?

    Thanks a lot!!!