Microsoft May Scrap HoloLens 3 As Metaverse Hype Hits Fever Pitch
Friday February 4, 2022. 01:02 AM , from Slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: One of the most outspoken proponents of the metaverse is struggling to find its place in this hypothetical virtual world. Microsoft has reportedly scrapped plans to make a HoloLens 3 -- what would have been a successor to its current mixed reality headset -- and infighting within the mixed reality division has fueled uncertainty about its future, according to Business Insider. One source told Insider that the decision to abandon plans for a HoloLens 3 would mark the end of the 'product as we know it.' Multiple sources said Microsoft had agreed to partner with Samsung to develop a new mixed reality device, a decision that has reportedly 'inflamed' division within the team. One employee called the partnership a 'shit show.' Insider spoke to 20 current and former employees at Microsoft who described 'confusion and strategic uncertainty.'
Some folks within Microsoft believe the company should continue to make hardware while others favor pivoting to a software platform for the metaverse -- that is, a Windows for the digital world. There is also a question of which customer base to target. Microsoft employees are apparently split on creating hardware and software for consumers or continuing their focus on enterprise customers. HoloLens 2, the company's latest AR/VR hardware, is a commercial product that sells for $3,500. Ruben Caballero, a former Apple executive who was hired in 2020 to join the mixed reality and AI division, reportedly wants to shift focus to consumers and the metaverse. Others within the team believe they should continue selling to businesses, and even fulfill military contracts.
LinkedIn profiles show that at least 25 Microsoft employees working on mixed reality left to join Meta last year alone, and Wall Street Journal reports the team lost around 100 people in 2021, many of them to Facebook's parent company. The HoloLens team is now uncertain about the long-term goals of the project and whether they will transition to working on a software platform. Disagreement on what to do next has made HoloLens's future unclear, though Microsoft maintains its commitment to the headset and promises to release more products in the future, 'Microsoft HoloLens remains a critical part of our plans for emerging categories like mixed reality and the metaverse,' said Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw. 'We remain committed to HoloLens and future HoloLens development.' Despite slow progress, Microsoft has doubled down on augmented and virtual reality in recent months, claiming its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard will provide the 'building blocks for the metaverse.' Microsoft's mixed-reality plans now appear to be hanging by a thread, and its most ambitious project yet is on the brink of collapse, just as talk about the metaverse -- the future it was meant to help create -- reaches a fever pitch.
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