Microsoft layoffs shut down their HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality teams

The wide-ranging redundancies at Microsoft have seen them effectively shut down their HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality departments, potentially ending the tech giant’s investment in virtual reality technology and any push for a metaverse within the company.

Microsoft had largely failed to gain much traction with virtual reality (or mixed reality as they called it), but had still made significant investments in the area. HoloLens was their homegrown pet project, a prelude to augmented reality glasses, but they also acquired AltSpaceVR in 2017 and had partnered with a number of PC manufacturers to make Mixed Reality VR headsets.


The AltSpaceVR social platform will be sunset in March, but Microsoft does still have Microsoft Mesh, which aims to build on their Microsoft Teams video conferencing platform in VR spaces. We’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, it’s probably going to be seen as good news by many that HoloLens is being shut down. Originally intended as a business and consumer product when it was announced in 2015, and with some interesting Minecraft demos, Microsoft struggled to refine the product for these uses and pivoted to military uses, getting a contract with the US government. This contract hit some snags with HoloLens underperforming in tests, so it looks like Microsoft has pulled the plug.

Microsoft recently announced that they would be laying off 10,000 from their global workforce of around 221,000, making around 5% of employees redundant. The company blamed general shifts back toward in-person work as opposed to working from home, as well as the expected recessions in global economies.

It comes as many tech companies are making similarly sweeping layoffs – Amazon is cutting 18,000, for example – and it’s just a few years after a boom in hiring in recent years during the pandemic-led lockdowns that saw a rise in tech usage, which saw Microsoft grow by 40,000 employees in the 2021-22 fiscal year, thanks to mass hiring and acquisitions of companies like Bethesda.

Earlier this week, we heard of cuts being made to a number of Microsoft-owned game studios, including Halo developer 343 Industries, Starfield developer Bethesda Game Studios, and Gears of War house The Coalition. The only real silver lining is that Microsoft has put $1.2 billion to one side to cover the redundancy packages, giving employees a financial safety net as they now have to hunt for work.

Source: Windows Central

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