Now working (a bit): PC VR with Meta Quest 2, Parallels and Virtual Desktop on M1 / Apple Silicon

Discussion in 'Parallels Desktop for Apple Silicon (M1) Mac' started by Izzard, Jun 18, 2022.

  1. Izzard

    Izzard Bit Poster

    TL;DR: It is now possible to play some Oculus PC software on Apple Silicon using Parallels and Virtual Desktop, but probably not worth the effort - at least on a base level M1. I'd be curious how an M1 Pro, Max, Ultra or M2 gets on. (I'm posting this to Reddit and to Parallels forums.)

    As the owner of an M1 Mac and a Oculus / Meta Quest 2, I've always been interested to see if I can use the Mac for VR by running Windows on it. Until now, this has not been possible because, whichever route we tried, we would always hit a roadblock. However, as of recent Developer Previews of Windows 11, it is possible to make some progress on this endeavour and I've been able to play Oculus PC apps using my Mac mini.

    Note: I am extremely aware this is not a sensible thing to try for actual gaming, that the performance will be inadequate due to translating the software for ARM, and running in a Virtual Machine with a virtual GPU. However, that discussion has been done to death by naysayers in other threads over the last two years. I'm here simply to tell you that I've been able to achieve it, to some degree, and for some of us it's just a fun exercise to make it work at all. Don't be a buzzkill!

    • Performance is inadequate on an M1.
    • SteamVR doesn't currently work, only Oculus games. I suspect this is because a driver fails to install.
    • You can't connect via Link Cable, only wirelessly using the excellent Virtual Desktop software.
    • There are hurdles: error messages to deal with, workarounds to faff with and most stuff won't work.

    Steps to reproduce:
    (I'm using macOS Monterey 12.4 on an M1 Mac mini.)
    1. Create a Windows 11 Virtual Machine in Parallels. I used Parallels Desktop version 17.1.14 (51567).
    2. In order to allow the Quest 2 to connect to your VM, we can bridge the network connection. To do this, go to the Configuration settings for your VM in Parallels (click the gear icon). Go to the Hardware tab, click Network then set "Source" to "Bridged Network / Default Adapter".
    3. Download the Oculus software for Windows (OculusSetup.exe). At the time of writing, the Public build of Windows isn't sufficient, as the Oculus installer will fail with "Unsupported CPU. Oculus requires a CPU with SSE 4.2 support". So, in Windows Settings:
      1. Go to "Diagnostics & feedback settings" and turn on the "Send optional diagnostic data" option.
      2. Go to Windows Insider Program settings, click "Get started", and link a Microsoft account.
      3. Choose the Dev Channel. Allow the VM to restart and install all Windows updates. At the time of writing, this installs Windows 11 Insider Preview 25140.rs_prerelease.220610-1351
    4. If you were to try OculusSetup.exe now, it would no longer get the "Unsupported CPU" error but will still ultimately fail and will roll back the installation, achieving nothing. The trick to prevent this happening is to run it with "diagnostic" switch. E.g. from the Command Prompt, use "OculusSetup.exe /diagostic". Installation won't quite complete, but rollback is interrupted by a pop-up saying "Diagnostic mode specified. Click OK to roll back installation." Don't click it! Instead, end the "Oculus Setup" task in Task Manager. This leaves the Oculus software installed.
    5. Reboot the VM.
    6. Go to, download and install the Streamer App for Windows. Launch it and enter your Oculus username. (You don't need to change the Public/Private network property or disable the Windows firewall, because we bridged the networks in step 2#.)
    7. On your Quest 2, launch Virtual Desktop and connect to your VM. You should be able to see your Windows 11 Desktop on the Quest. That's it! From the "Games" tab in Virtual Desktop, you can now launch a Occulus PC VR app, such as the included "First Contact" demonstration, "First Steps" or "Oculus Dream Deck". Have fun and see what else you can achieve.

    NB: if you try to launch the Oculus client, e.g. to install more games, it will complain that it cannot reach the Oculus Service. You can solve that as follows:
    1. In a Command Prompt: C:\Program Files\Oculus\Support\oculus-runtime\OVRServiceLauncher -install -start
    2. With the "Oculus VR Service" now installed and running, you should now be able to use the Oculus client, sign in and install more VR games.

    I haven't managed to get the driver to install so far, so skip the headset setup (it's not required in order to play via Virtual Desktop). I also haven't got any other apps to work, since they complain that the driver needs to be installed. Clearly, the next issue to resolve is getting the driver to work! My ultimate goal is to make this work with Live For Speed, which I am very confident the M1 can handle in VR. (I currently do this using an old PC with a lowly NVIDIA GT730 GPU, far below the "minimum spec" for VR, and it works well enough.

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