Massive layoffs at Microsoft or the shelving of ambitions around mixed reality

Microsoft confirmed the layoff of 10,000 employees late last week. A new massive layoff plan that affects tech.

Nearly 5% of employees of the giant Microsoft have been laid off. Dismissals that affected very specific sectors of the company led by Satya Nadella, such as video games, and especially the entire virtual/mixed reality and metaverse sector. A major brake after massive investments that did not yield the expected results.

2023 starts like 2022 is over

It’s back to reality for the tech giants. Since last year, tens of thousands of people have had to be made redundant against a backdrop of global recession. 2023 kicks off exactly as last year ended, with massive layoffs. Amazon has started its plan to lay off 18,000 employees, Google announced the dismissal of 12,000 people and Microsoft of 10,000. To date, January has already seen 75,017 layoffs in the tech sector according to the site trueup.io.

If Microsoft has not revealed precisely the affected sectors, messages from employees and official accounts posted on the networks help to get a good idea. The video game sector has been affected, but it is above all that of mixed reality and the metaverse that are suffering the biggest cuts.

A software engineer from the Mixed Reality Toolkit 2 (MRTK) project announced on his LinkedIn account that the entire dedicated teams had been fired. This open source project aimed to provide components and functionality to developers of mixed reality applications on Unity.

The HoloLens project has not been officially stopped. But it has been suffering from major difficulties for at least a year. Its co-founder, Alex Kipman, left the company in the summer of 2022, amid accusations of sexual harassment. The $22 billion contract Microsoft signed with the US military in 2021 is going badly. Significant delays have been seen over the months and the technology is still unreliable, leading to unwanted side effects among soldiers testing the augmented reality headset.

Finally, we also learn that the entire AltspaceVR metaverse project will end on March 10. In a message posted on the official website, the virtual reality social platform team, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2017, announces that it has been reassigned to a new type of project: Microsoft Mesh. This new platform is also intended as a kind of metaverse for VR headsets on the market and the HoloLens, but intended for the professional world, with integration on Teams.

Microsoft’s ambitions in mixed reality and the metaverse are therefore not at a standstill, but they have nevertheless taken a huge hit with these layoffs. The giant seems to have other priorities now, such as artificial intelligence.

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