We got official confirmation regarding Microsoft’s plans for 10,000 layoffs just ahead of the weekend. The job cuts were significant, even for an employer the size of Microsoft, with the numbers representing nearly 5% of its entire workforce, or one job in twenty. As we still reel from the news, social media posts (opens in new tab) by ex-employees have started to paint a clear picture of the business areas where Microsoft felt it could shed entire teams of workers. Some will be surprised to learn that teams behind projects like HoloLens, AltSpaceVR, and MRTK (Mixed Reality Tool Kit) have been culled in their entirety.
We don’t need to ponder more over the scale of the layoffs at Microsoft, as it joined the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and others in taking this route for shareholder appeasement in the current downturn. Instead, it is interesting to focus on Microsoft’s staff-cutting incisions.
In our headline we use XR as a catch-all for virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality. Even in his most recent keynotes and appearances, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been keen to emphasize the importance of the ‘metaverse’ to the IT industry, as well as consumer and work lives in the coming era. So, we wonder why this part of Microsoft’s business has been so drastically pruned.
With regards to HoloLens, we know it has already been refocused and scaled back a number of times. Its chief architect Alex Kipman left a few months ago in a cloud of controversy. Perhaps a bigger impact has been the reported issues with HoloLens in US military trials, meaning it might not get funding to progress, and thus become another project test without any future.
The entire team behind MRTK is also gone. MRTK was an open-source project designed to accelerate cross-platform MR development. This decision has been made now, despite MRTK3 (announced last June) being scheduled to ship in February 2023. MRTK was an important support project for developers, targetting platforms such as Microsoft HoloLens 2, Meta Quest, SteamVR, and Lenovo ThinkReality A3, which run on Qualcomm hardware. There is some hope that due to its open-source nature, community support can continue with resources from the last Microsoft work on MRTK3.
Microsoft acquired AltSpaceVR in 2017, and it is now confirmed that all its metaverse project work will end on March 10. Our sister site Windows Central reckons that AltSpaceVR has a successor dubbed Microsoft Mesh, so the firm is seemingly keeping some resources allocated to this touted next frontier in the future of the internet. Nevertheless, Microsoft killing off these teams and projects makes its XR and metaverse ambitions look pretty hollow.
Are we witnessing another Windows Phone moment for Microsoft, a strategic withdrawal signaling it has lost too much ground to competitors to have the heart to compete? It is hard to answer this as we really don’t have a clear picture of how many XR staffers remain, and what particular projects other than Microsoft Mesh (opens in new tab), they are working on. We might not know the full extent of the changes, or see clearer picture of Microsoft’s new XR strategy, until the annual BUILD developer conference in May.
"We're going to have people using VR, assisted by AI, doing remote repairs with 5G on Self-driving cars in the Metaverse, all funded by Crypto"
tech companies in 2023:
"Everyone is fired"
As far as business go the market you aiming at(xr space) isnt very large & the cost is huge (and thats if it can progress at a good rate)
I guess my question as a infrequent visitor to this realm is... "compete with what?"
Zuck is still sucking wind and wasting billions on something he picked as his company's next pivot, seemingly mainly just to change the topic around the atrocious impact on society that Whatsapp and Facebook were (are) having.
"Let's fire random people and force other people to work even harder. Let's transfer all the savings and benefits to higher ups!.. f.. the workers"... workers start to attack back... "Damn, our employees are so lazy and are a bunch of communists now, let's use every single thing we can to punish them!"
Oh, a random dude from an investor analyst company says that business are slowing down? All companies then be like " Let's start mass firing, so we can do a self professed prophesy and causing the slow down by making people lose their jobs, and then they be unable to buy our products!"
"Let's use CRYPTO to everything, who cares if its unstable, unproven, a risk, and full of scammers.." later.. "how did we lose so much money in crypto?... let's fire tons of people because we the guys in charge are totally not at fault of our decisions"
"Who cares what the people want, let's shove things noone want while raising prices to everything. WERE GENIOUS" later.. "why noone is buying our products? Our ideas were flawless! welp, time to fire more employees for our stupidity"
It's really a shame about Hololens. I had high hopes for its future.