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The past few days have been really exciting for Natural User Interfaces. Microsoft released the official Hololens SDK and started shipping the first developer devices. I wrote a detailed review of the capabilities of the device a few days ago.

No Hololens device? No problem! The SDK comes with a Hololens Emulator that lets you test your apps and holograms without having a physical device.

Today, I’ll show you how to successfully install the SDK. Since the SDK is still in Developer Preview mode, not every computer will be compatible. I installed the SDK on a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop and a Surface Pro tablet with absolutely no issues. However, I had no luck on my Apple machines (sad). Before downloading the SDK, you need to ensure that your computer meets the proposed Hololens system requirements.

If you have already installed the SDK, read my Unity tutorial to start developing your Holographic apps.

Hardware Requirements

To develop for Hololens, your PC should meet the following specifications:

  • 64-bit Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, or Education (The Home edition does not support Hyper-V)
  • 64-bit CPU
  • 8 GB of RAM or more
  • In the BIOS, the following features must be supported and enabled:
    • Hardware-assisted virtualization
    • Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)
    • Hardware-based Data Execution Prevention (DEP)
  • GPU (The emulator might work with an unsupported GPU, but will be significantly slower)
    • DirectX 11.0 or later
    • WDDM 1.2 driver or later

Hololens SDK installation

So, let’s get started with the installation of the required software.

Step 0 – Enable Virtualization

The Hololens Emulator runs as a virtual machine. So, your PC must support virtualization. Virtualization is the ability to create a virtual instance of an operating system. The Hololens Emulator is similar to the Windows Phone emulator. If you’ve installed the Windows Phone tools in the past, you most probably have virtualization enabled already. If that’s true for you, continue to step #1.

After trying to enable virtualization in a number of machines, I can safely say that Surface Pro works like a charm.

To enable virtualization, you need to do it through your BIOS settings. To enter BIOS, restart your computer and hit the manufacturer-specific BIOS key (usually F1 or F11). Then, find the virtualization settings. In my ThinkPad, I needed to navigate to the Settings tab:

Virtualization ThinkPad BIOS 1

Then, I had to enable Intel Virtualization Technology and Intel VT-d:

Virtualization ThinkPad BIOS 2

Finally, I had to simply hit Escape, save, and restart (yeap, we are going to restart a lot of times):

Virtualization ThinkPad BIOS 3

Image credits:

If you go to step #1 and get an error, it means that Hyper-V was not properly supported!

Step 1 – Enable Hyper-V

It’s now time to enable Hyper-V from within Windows. Open your Control Panel and search “Turn Windows Features On or Off”. You should see the following window:

Windows Hyper-V

Check the “Hyper-V” option and all of its sub-options. Click OK to enable Hyper-V.

Attention: after enabling Hyper-V, restart your computer as prompted!

Step 2 – Install Visual Studio

Got that far? Great! Let’s install our developer tool. First of all, you need to download Visual Studio Update 2. Run the wizard and leave the default settings checked (you can choose to install additional components, but it will take significantly more time). Wait patiently until the process is finished…

Attention: after Visual Studio is successfully installed, restart your computer as prompted!

Step 3 – Install the Hololens Emulator

The emulator comes as a separate installation package. Download the emulator and run the setup wizard.

Hololens Emulator installation

If you do not have Virtualization enabled, you’ll get an error. If your computer does not support the emulator, you’ll get an error, too.

Attention: after the Emulator is installed, restart your computer again! Hell, that’s a lot of restarts…

Step 4 – Install Unity

Finally, you’ll have to install a Hololens-compatible version of Unity. Unity is a powerful gaming engine that helps you build 3D apps easily.

Download Unity Technical Preview. There are three steps here:

  1. Install the 64-bit or 32-bit Unity Editor.
  2. Install the Universal Windows Platform Runtime.
  3. Install the Documentation.

If you already have a stable version of Unity installed, do not worry. Unity Technical Preview can run side-by-side with the older installation.

Unity Hololens Technical Preview

If you get this warning message from your Windows Firewall, check Private and Public networks:

Hololens Unity Windows Firewall

OK, folks – this is it! You have successfully configured your Hololens Development Environment. You are ready to rock!

Additional Resources

By now, you should have your Hololens system up and running.

As a next step, we are going to create our first Unity app and deploy it using the Hololens Emulator!

Read my Unity tutorial.

Additionally, I suggest you have a look at the following articles:

So, did you install the SDK and have any feedback for the community? Let me know in the comments below.

Vangos Pterneas

Vangos Pterneas is a software engineer, book author, and award-winning Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (2014-2019). Since 2012, Vangos has been helping Fortune-500 companies and ambitious startups create demanding motion-tracking applications. He's obsessed with analyzing and modeling every aspect of human motion using AI and Maths. Vangos shares his passion by regularly publishing articles and open-source projects to help and inspire fellow developers.


  • Owais says:


    Thanks for a good blog, I am facing a problem with emulator startup. I tried to find solution but no luck.

    Below are the error details when I start emulator from Hyper-V Manager directly

    [Window Title]
    Hyper-V Manager

    [Main Instruction]
    An error occurred while attempting to start the selected virtual machine(s).

    ‘HoloLens Emulator 10.0.11082.1039.maverick’ failed to start.

    Synthetic 3D Display Controller (Instance ID 113560EA-48CD-4BD1-8828-FCEC44E2B5D5): Failed to Power on with Error ‘Insufficient system resources exist to complete the requested service.’.

    The virtual machine cannot be started because the file rdvgm.exe that is required to start the RemoteFX Manager process does not exist.

    [Expanded Information]
    ‘HoloLens Emulator 10.0.11082.1039.maverick’ failed to start. (Virtual machine ID B01C031B-F4DF-442F-9C7D-722463B98EA9)

    ‘HoloLens Emulator 10.0.11082.1039.maverick’ Synthetic 3D Display Controller (Instance ID 113560EA-48CD-4BD1-8828-FCEC44E2B5D5): Failed to Power on with Error ‘Insufficient system resources exist to complete the requested service.’ (0x800705AA). (Virtual machine ID B01C031B-F4DF-442F-9C7D-722463B98EA9)

    ‘HoloLens Emulator 10.0.11082.1039.maverick’ Synthetic 3D Display Controller: Failed to Power on with Error ‘The virtual machine cannot be started because the file rdvgm.exe that is required to start the RemoteFX Manager process does not exist.’. (Virtual machine ID B01C031B-F4DF-442F-9C7D-722463B98EA9)

    [V] See details [Close]

    Do you’ve any idea as to how I can fix it?

    Thanks & Regards,

    • Hi Owais. Thanks for your comment. I had a similar problem while installing the Emulator in one of my computers. Try allocating more memory to the VM. You should allocate at least 2048MB. Let me know if that worked for you.


  • Markus says:

    Hi Vangos,

    Thanks a lot for this.
    I got one question. I already installed the Unity Technical Preview for HoloLens development.
    However, when I try to install the Universal Window Platform, I stuck at ‘Choose Install Location’.
    The destination folder was blank and when I tried to direct it to the same folder as Unity Technical Preview installed, there was pop-up window informing that ‘Failed to find Unity.exe’. Any suggestion for this matter?
    Thanks a lot for your attention.


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