After the HoloLens’ father passed away, Microsoft redoubled its efforts on the metaverse

Image: Microsoft.

Microsoft technical team member and HoloLens father Alex Kipman has left the company after 21 years in the business. Alex Kipman’s departure is part – or more likely the cause – of the reorganization of Microsoft’s cloud and AI unit.

This departure comes before the start of Microsoft’s struggling fiscal year 2023, at 1Verse July, and allows Microsoft to provide an updated explanation of what it plans to do in the metaverse space. In fact, we’ll probably hear more about it at the company’s upcoming annual Inspire Partner Conference in mid-July.

Alex Kipman’s departure was reported this week by Business Insider and GeekWire. GeekWire released the memo from Scott Guthrie, Vice President of Cloud and Artificial Intelligence, outlining plans to split the HoloLens group into two groups, with the hardware team joining the Windows and Hardware group under Panos leadership. Panay and the software side joined Experiences and Devices to advance the company’s work on Mesh and Mesh for Teams. According to Scott Guthrie’s note, Alex Kipman will help with the transition over the next two months before leaving Microsoft. Business Insider recently published an article stating that Alex Kipman has “toxic behavior” toward women.

HoloLens have repositioned themselves over the years

HoloLens, announced by Alex Kipman in 2015, has seen a number of site changes over the years. Originally, Alex Kipman (and likely other Microsoft executives) saw the device as essential to Microsoft’s consumer vision. But over time, Microsoft officials quickly realized that the financial hopes for the device had been firmly entrenched in the company.

However, Alex Kipman continued to fuel the idea that HoloLens would have a great future for consumers in his interviews and shows.

Microsoft’s largest contract related to HoloLens to date – for the US Army’s integrated optical augmentation system, a 10-year, $22 billion deal – has faced many hurdles, leading some to question whether it may not be cancelled. In a reorganization memorandum prepared by Scott Guthrie of Alex Kipman, he noted that the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), a program of the US Army to provide virtual reality (VR) glasses to soldiers, has been formally approved by the Army to enter the operational testing phase, which He described it as “a significant event for the team.”

Towards Metaverse Corporation?

Last year, Alex Kipman grabbed headlines when Microsoft announced Mesh, its Azure-powered mixed reality platform. A few months later, Microsoft introduced the Mesh for Teams initiative, through which users would be able to gather in organized virtual spaces using Mesh and Teams. This explains why the Services and Collaboration portion of the HoloLens team falls under the responsibility of Corporate Vice President Jeff Tepper, who is responsible for Teams.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believes there will be many metrics in various areas, from gaming to commerce. The company has refined its enterprise metaverse strategy over the past two years, through which it attempts to position a variety of products and services, including HoloLens, Mesh, IoT (Internet of Things) and digital twins, as key components of its metaverse stack. At Build last month, Microsoft unveiled Azure Digital Twins 3D Scenes Studio, designed to help companies create immersive 3D visualizations.

What Microsoft didn’t announce at Build (perhaps because of the negative publicity surrounding Alex Kipman in May?) is the much-anticipated preview of Mesh for Teams scheduled for 2022. The premiere will bring Teams a set of pre-built immersive spaces for things like meetings. Scott Guthrie says in his revamped note that Microsoft and Accenture revealed an immersive experience built using the Mesh software development kit for leaders to collaborate on global issues.

Interestingly, the recent update that includes HoloLens does not have a consumer or gaming component, it has been rumored that Microsoft and Samsung might be collaborating on mixed reality devices that would be more consumer-focused than just the HoloLens. But for now, Microsoft’s metaverse strategy is deeply rooted in the company, and Alex Kipman’s departure appears to bolster that strategy.


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