After laying off 10,000 workers (5% of its workforce), Microsoft has announced that it will shut down AltspaceVR, the social virtual reality platform it acquired in 2017.
In a blog post, the Windows company stated that the move to axe its VR platform will help shift focus “to support immersive experiences powered by Microsoft Mesh.”
AltspaceVR was one of the first social virtual reality experiences in 2015 alongside other VR platforms like Rec Room and VRChat. Microsoft saved the platform from shutting down in 2017 when it acquired it as part of its efforts to build and grow its own mixed-reality ecosystem.
AltspaceVR writes in its announcement, “We look forward to what is to come, including our launch of Microsoft Mesh, a new platform for connection and collaboration, starting by enabling workplaces around the world. In the near-term, we are focusing our VR efforts on workplace experiences, learning from and alongside our early customers and partners, and ensuring we deliver a foundation that enables security, trust and compliance. Over time, we hope to extend to consumer experience a[s] well.”
Microsoft has also shared that users can download their data from AltspaceVR before it shuts down completely. The company is now working on Microsoft Mesh, a collaboration and communications platform it announced in 2021 which according to Tom Warren, “feels like the future of Microsoft Teams.”
After laying off 10,000 workers, Microsoft is now looking to scale back on its metaverse ambitions and make serious adjustments to its “hardware profile.” According to The Verge, employees working on Microsoft’s open-source Mixed Reality Toolkit say they’ve all been laid off, and a report from Windows Central shows that the behemoth company axed the entire AltspaceVR team as well.