Do not install Windows 11 yet if you are using Oculus Air Link

Earlier this week I installed Windows 11 – but as a VR user I already regret it.

It’s not that it’s a bad operating system. In fact, when it comes to using regular apps and games, I already prefer it over Windows 10. The design is clean, modern, and far more cohesive than the visually jarring mess of Windows 8 and 10.

But as soon as I tried to use a Quest 2 to play PC VR through Oculus Link, my appreciation for the new OS was gone. As I moved my head or hands, I noticed a constant visual tremor, enough to make me sick within seconds. The issue has occurred with both the native Oculus and SteamVR titles, and with both the wired Oculus Link and the wireless Oculus Air Link.

I immediately suspected a performance issue, but the Oculus debugging tool and in-game performance counters showed no frame drops. My system was maintaining 90 frames per second without dropping. So what was causing the stuttering?

Switching between modes of the Oculus debugging tool, I quickly discovered the The eye of the composer himself was losing frames (in the screenshot above my headphones were set to 90Hz mode). If you’re not familiar with the term, composer is the running software service that a VR application sends its rendered images to. The composer applies temporal or spatial warping as needed, overlays the system UI, and makes sure to send images to the GPU at the right time. The composer should always run at the frame rate of the headphone refresh rate – if it doesn’t, something is seriously wrong.

A quick Google search shows dozens of other Quest owners reporting the exact same issue on Reddit and the Oculus forums.

Trying Virtual Desktop instead, I found the same issue in Oculus native titles. But by using Virtual Desktop with SteamVR, the problem is gone. I no longer experienced any stuttering and Virtual Desktop’s performance overlay shows no drops of frames. This is probably because, while SteamVR pushes its images to the Oculus composer when using Oculus Link, Virtual Desktop instead has its own OpenVR runtime.

I will explore potential solutions to this problem over the weekend. If I can’t find one, I go back to Windows 10.

If you too took the bet with Windows 11 this week, let us know how it went in the comments below.

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