Microsoft recently announced a significant restructuring of its Mixed Reality division, resulting in layoffs of employees in that area, as reported by CNBC.

Despite these changes, the company will continue to sell the HoloLens 2 augmented reality (AR) headset, a crucial device produced by this department.

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Microsoft and the future of Hololens 2

A Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC via email that the company remains fully committed to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program.

This program uses HoloLens to improve situational awareness on the battlefield, offering cutting-edge technology to support soldiers. The company will also continue to invest in W365, with the aim of reaching a broader ecosystem of Mixed Reality hardware. Additionally, Microsoft revealed that it will continue to sell the HoloLens 2 and maintain support for the device’s customers and partners.

HoloLens 2 has been a key piece in Microsoft’s technology arsenal, especially in the defense sector, and has therefore been used primarily in the US Department of Defense. Recently, the company released a modified version of HoloLens called IVAS, which aims to reduce nausea, eye fatigue and other issues for users, especially in high-intensity environments like the battlefield.

Strategic changes result in mass layoffs

The restructuring of Microsoft’s Mixed Reality department was expected, especially after the company discontinued Windows Mixed Reality in Windows 11 in December 2023.

At the time, Microsoft stated that this change would not affect the HoloLens division. However, this recent restructuring is part of a broader change within the company, which has resulted in the layoff of 1,000 employees across multiple divisions. As of January 2024, the company had already laid off nearly 2,000 employees from its gaming unit, in addition to more than 10,000 layoffs last year.

Microsoft’s move reflects an industry trend away from the metaverse and focusing more on artificial intelligence (AI). This strategic redirection was also adopted by Meta, one of the biggest advocates of AR. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last year that AI development is now the company’s “largest single investment.”

Recent changes at Microsoft indicate a new direction for the company, with a renewed focus on AI, while continuing to support and develop Mixed Reality technologies like HoloLens 2. These changes are part of a broader strategic adjustment in the technology industry, which is increasingly focused on AI as the future of innovation.

Fonte: engadget


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