Microsoft gives up on VR and HoloLens, with employee layoffs

Microsoft gives up on VR and HoloLens, with employee layoffs

Days after announcing that it would cut more than 10,000 jobs, Microsoft has already demonstrated that it will not continue to develop virtual and mixed reality devices. With that, the development of HoloLens glasses would be stagnant.

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The layoffs represent something around 5% of the company’s workforce, and the process of cuts should continue until the month of March. In a statement sent to its own employees, Microsoft pointed out that it intends to “make changes in the hardware portfolio”, among other strategic measures.

In practice, decisions are already felt in several areas. AltspaceVR, a subdivision of the company’s virtual reality, announced that it will close its activities from March 10 – about six years after the acquisition of the brand by Microsoft, which took place in 2017.

HoloLens has uncertain future

In the same wave, the company dismissed the team responsible for the MRTK (Mixed Reality Tool Kit, or Mixed Reality Tool Kit, in mixed translation). It is a set of components and resources used to accelerate the development of mixed reality applications in Unity — a new generation of the package (MRTK3) was expected for next month, but it must be cancelled.

MTRK was experimentally compatible with several consumer-oriented VR devices such as Meta Quest and Steam VR. Furthermore, he was considered vital to the development of HoloLens, which already had a checkered history.

Initially rejected by hardcore gamers, the product has become more popular for professional use. Therefore, HoloLens 2 arrived in 2019 completely without game support, and with a very high price.

At about the same time, Microsoft closed a $22 billion deal with the US Armed Forces. However, the agreement generated controversy with the team of developers, who did not want to see the device become an instrument of war.

In a simplified way, this version of HoloLens brought features such as night and thermal vision, in addition to showing soldiers extra information through augmented reality. In practice, the system was heavily criticized for emitting too much light and limiting the military’s field of vision — factors that can represent the difference between life and death on a battlefield.

But what about the metaverse?

In general, it is possible to interpret Microsoft’s strategies as a great distrust regarding the future of technologies of this type, including the metaverse.

However, this does not mean that reality is the same for the market as a whole. Meta itself is still investing heavily in the Meta Quest series, and Apple is expected to introduce its own mixed reality headset later this year.

Even so, the wave of layoffs also hit Mark Zuckerberg’s company: in November last year, about 11,000 employees were fired. In this case, the most affected areas include the development of AI solutions, business and advertising platforms, and recruitment.

As for the HoloLens, Microsoft has not made any official announcement regarding the cancellation of the headset. However, many already understand this fate as inevitable.

Source: MeioBit, ExtremeTech