Microsoft buries AltspaceVR, the pioneer of the metaverse
Acquired by Microsoft in 2017, the metaverse pioneer is closing down.
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 called it “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 that announces the end of this pioneer of what is now called 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.
— 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” 8211; enabling this community to do more. With Mesh, we aspire to build a platform that provides the broadest opportunity for everyone involved, including creators, partners, and customers,” Microsoft's announcement also read. p>
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 version more open, accessible and secure immersive experiences in the metaverse”, indeed indicates the Redmond firm in its post.
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 metaverse and reality increased its priority, Microsoft seems to rely instead 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 investing in “strategic areas”, and neglecting other areas.
“These are the kind of tough choices we have made throughout our 47-year history to remain an important company in this industry that does not forgive anyone who does not adapt to platform changes”, CEO Satya Nadella recently explained.