HoloLens Dev 101: How to Install & Set Up the Software to Start Developing for Windows Holographic

In this first part to my series on getting started with Windows Holographic, we are going to cover everything you need to get set up for developing HoloLens apps. There are many pieces coming together to make one single application, but once you get used to them all, you won't even notice. Now there are different approaches you can take to make applications for HoloLens, but this way is simply the fastest.

You will need a HoloLens, of course, and a PC with Windows 10 installed—all HoloLens development requires Windows 10. You will also need a Microsoft account as well as a Unity account. (You can also create the Unity one later, as seen in Step 6 below.)

Step 1: Download Software

Once you're ready with your gear and accounts, it's time to start downloading. I highly recommend downloading these to your desktop for quick and easy access.

Step 2: Install Unity

Double-click on the Unity Download Assistant icon. When the window comes up, click on the "Next" button.

After reading (haha), agree to the license agreement, then choose 64-bit as the version to install. This will bring you to the Choose Components screen. Here we need to add a few parts that are not standard install:

  • Windows Store .NET Scripting Backend
  • Windows Store IL2CPP Scripting Backend.

Once these are selected, hit the"Next" button to continue, then hit it one more time to start the installation, which may take some time to finish.

Step 3: Install Visual Studio Community 2015

Double-click on the vs_community file. Once you get through the agreements, you should see the window below appear. Here, we need to make sure a few things are selected under Universal Windows App Development Tools:

  • Tool 1.4.1 (1.4 will work as well)
  • Window 10 SDK (10.0.10586)

Once you've selected them, hit the "Next" button and let 'er rip. Like the Unity install, this can take a good long while, so go feed the cat or yourself, or maybe go take a quick jog, then come back.

Step 4: Install Visual Studio 2015 Tools for Unity

A version of this will install automatically when you install Unity, but I suggest installing this one just to make sure you've got the most up-to-date version. While it likely has been fixed since I installed Unity, it was a major headache for me when I set up my AR studio earlier this year.

Double-click on the vstu2015 file to open the installer, then agree to the license and follow the prompts to complete the installation.

Step 5: Unzip HoloToolkit-Unity to a Folder on the Desktop

The HoloToolkit does not need to be installed like an application, because this is something that will be imported into each new project. We will extract this .zip file to a folder and leave it on the desktop for easy access later.

Right-click on the HoloToolkit-Unity .zip file and hit the "Extract All" option. When the window below appears, rename the folder HoloToolkit and hit "Extract."

Step 6: Run Unity, Create an Account & Get Logged In

Double-click on your Unity icon to open it. After a quick start screen, a Windows Security Alert dialog will pop up. Make your choices based on how you have you networks set up at home. In order to connect to the HoloLens via Wi-Fi, the private network option will be the minimal required.

Next up, you should see the Unity Account sign-in window. If you have an account, you should fill in your credentials here. If you do not, click on the "create one" link.

If you chose to create one, a browser window will appear. Create a Unity ID and going through the confirmation process to access it.

When you're logged on, you should see the Projects select screen. Here we can start new projects or reload previous ones.

Now let's move on to Visual Studio.

Step 7: Run Visual Studio & Sign In

Click on the Microsoft Visual Studio Community icon in the start menu, then sign in at the prompt.

If you are using Windows 10, as you should be, you likely already have a Microsoft account. Use those credentials to sign in.

And now you've done it! Congratulations. The set-up and installation steps are now finished.

All the grunt work is out of the way, and we can move onto building apps for HoloLens. Stay tuned for future parts in this series that'll cover getting the HoloLens emulator set up, as well as building your very first HoloLens application.

Cover image by Adam Dachis/NextReality; Screenshots by Jason Odom/NextReality

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