In 2015, long before Mark Zuckerberg made the term “metaverse” fashionable, there was already a social platform on which it is possible to interact with our friends via virtual reality. This platform is called AltspaceVR. At the time, Fortune magazine referred to it as “the first virtual reality social platform”. Unfortunately, the mode was not ready for this type of service, and as early as 2017 AltspaceVR considered shutting down.
However, the platform was saved by Microsoft, which decided to buy it back. But today, it is precisely Microsoft which announces the end of this pioneer of what one calls today the metaverse. The news was announced in a blog post. According to the company’s explanations, AltspaceVR will be closed on March 10, 2023, but Microsoft will focus on another platform: Microsoft Mesh.
Introducing Microsoft Mesh.
It enables presence and shared experiences from anywhere – across devices – through mixed reality applications. #MSIgnite pic.twitter.com/xbyO6trHdS
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) March 2, 2021
“It has been a privilege to help unlock the passions of users, from educational opportunities for personal growth to the development of unique and wonderful events, groundbreaking art and immersive experiences – empowering this community to achieve more . With Mesh, we aspire to build a platform that offers the broadest opportunity to everyone involved, including creators, partners, and customers.”we also read in the announcement of Microsoft.
Mesh was introduced by Microsoft in 2021 and, in essence, it’s an extension of its Teams video conferencing app that uses virtual reality and augmented reality. For the moment, the Redmond firm is mainly focusing on business uses, since it evokes, for example, a way for teams to collaborate virtually. This pivot towards companies is also suggested in the announcement of the closure of AltspaceVR.
“As we look to the future, we see the opportunity for virtual reality to expand beyond the consumer to the enterprise and now have an even bigger goal: a more open, accessible and secure version of immersive experiences in the metaverse”indeed indicates the Redmond firm in its ticket.
Microsoft will lay off
But it’s also possible that Microsoft has decided to shut down AltspaceVR due to the crisis, which is forcing tech giants, including Microsoft, to cut costs and optimize resources by prioritizing the most important projects. A few days ago, Microsoft announced the layoff of 10,000 employees. Indeed, while consumers and businesses are spending less on digital products, the Redmond firm must correct its cost structure.
And unlike Meta (Facebook), which has made the metaverse and augmented reality its priority, Microsoft seems to be banking on artificial intelligence to ensure its long-term growth. Recently, the firm announced a partnership with OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT artificial intelligence into its cloud.
Otherwise, it should be noted that although Microsoft is laying off 10,000 employees, its CEO has affirmed that the group will continue to invest in “strategic areas”, and abandon other areas.
“These are the kind of tough choices we’ve made throughout our 47-year history to remain an important company in this industry that doesn’t forgive anyone who doesn’t adapt to platform changes”CEO Satya Nadella recently explained.