In recent weeks, Microsoft has made a series of moves that indicate the company is abandoning its ambitions in the extended reality (XR) space. The most recent move was the firing of over 50 employees from its HoloLens team, which had been working on the company’s augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) products.
The firings come after Microsoft had already scaled back its investments in XR. In July, the company announced it was shutting down its internal XR hardware development. The move was seen as a sign that Microsoft was no longer interested in competing with other tech giants, such as Facebook and Apple, in the XR space.
Microsoft’s decision to abandon XR is a major shift in strategy for the company. Microsoft had been investing heavily in the technology, and had even acquired several companies in the space. The company had also released two versions of its HoloLens headset, and had been developing a third.
Microsoft’s decision to abandon XR could be seen as a sign that the company is focusing on other areas of technology. Microsoft has been investing in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, and the company may be looking to focus on these areas instead.
The firings also come at a time when the XR industry is in flux. Despite the promise of the technology, many companies have struggled to make it profitable. Facebook, for example, recently announced it was shutting down its Oculus Go headset, citing a lack of demand for the product.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft’s decision to abandon XR will pay off. The company may be able to focus its resources on other areas, but it may also be missing out on a potentially lucrative market. Only time will tell if Microsoft’s decision to abandon XR was the right one.
Microsoft recently announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees, representing nearly 5% of its total workforce. These layoffs have been seen across many of Microsoft’s projects, including HoloLens, AltSpaceVR, and MRTK. This has led many to question Microsoft’s commitment to their XR and metaverse ambitions, as these layoffs seem to indicate that the company is withdrawing from the space.
However, Microsoft still has some projects in XR, such as Microsoft Mesh, that could indicate the company is not completely abandoning the area. It is unclear what other projects Microsoft is working on in XR, and the full extent of the layoffs, until the annual BUILD developer conference in May.
Despite the layoffs, Microsoft is still committed to the metaverse and XR space. CEO Satya Nadella has been vocal about the importance of the metaverse to the IT industry, as well as consumer and work lives in the coming era. Microsoft Mesh, an open-source project designed to accelerate cross-platform MR development, is still in development and scheduled to ship in February 2023. This indicates that Microsoft is still dedicated to the metaverse and XR, though the recent layoffs may have changed the company’s strategy in the space.