SteamVR’s Direct Mode allows direct communication with the Vive’s displays, bypassing the operating system’s typical display communication path. This results in a more consistent experience for Vive users, as its composited view renders independent of other desktop application windows. For example, flashing displays upon headset detection, confused display destinations for desktop applications, and fullscreen compositor warnings are all resolved by Direct Mode. Additionally, Direct Mode allows the headset to go into standby mode, preserving power and display life.
Starting with the most recent SteamVR Beta update, this feature is now available on HTC Vive Pre and will be available on all HTC Vive models going forward.
To enable Direct Mode, just update your drivers to 361.75 (NVIDIA) or 184.108.40.206 (AMD) or newer and then make sure you are running SteamVR beta. See the Vive Pre Installation Guide for activating the beta.