Of all the companies in the metaverse bandwagon, Microsoft seems to have the most level-headed understanding of how a metaverse might actually come to life. At least, that’s how it looks from the outside. A new report from Business Insider reveals Microsoft’s inability to settle on a mixed reality strategy, a problem that’s created rifts between its employees.
Update, 2/4/22: HoloLens creator Alex Kipman denies that the HoloLens 3 is canceled. He also states that Microsoft’s mixed reality division is not dysfunctional.
There are two major disagreements within Microsoft’s mixed reality division, according to Business Insider. First, employees and higher-ups can’t agree on Microsoft’s role in a future metaverse—some say the company should focus on hardware like HoloLens, while others believe that a software platform for other companies’ headsets is a smarter move.
Employees are also upset by an unconfirmed partnership between Microsoft and Samsung. If Business Insider’s sources are correct, Microsoft will abandon HoloLens 3 development and work with Samsung on a new headset. (This rumor makes a lot of sense if Microsoft pivots to a software-first strategy. That said, Microsoft denies that the HoloLens is dead.)
Microsoft employees who are frustrated with the company have reportedly left to join Facebook. Of course, you may want to take this with a grain of salt, as poaching is incredibly common in the tech industry. Plus, the “metaverse” is still an emerging market, so companies are desperate to recruit talent.
For what it’s worth, Microsoft’s CEO seems a lot more interested in software than hardware. Satya Nadella is famous for his push for Azure cloud computing, a bet that’s clearly paid off, given the success of both Xbox Cloud Gaming and Microsoft 365.
Nadella also claims that the metaverse is just an expansion of online communities that have long existed in video games—a correct assessment. He believes that game developers will build the virtual worlds that companies are searching for, hence the need to acquire Activision Blizzard.
We still don’t know Microsoft’s long-term mixed reality strategy. Clearly, the company is focused on software and virtual world-building, but that doesn’t mean it’ll abandon the HoloLens.
Source: Business Insider