AltspaceVR Loses Microsoft Support

Published on 12 Jan 2023

AltspaceVR, Loses, Microsoft

There have been many near-misses for AltspaceVR over the years, but the firm that pioneered the creation of virtual social spaces before the term "metaverse" was common parlance has finally decided to close its doors for good.

Microsoft has decided to cease support for AltspaceVR's virtual reality platform. The platform provided a network of immersive social spaces where users could interact with one another in the form of 3D avatars. After stating it would shut down operations in 2017, Microsoft stepped in and took the firm under its wing.

Microsoft has announced that as of March 10th, it will no longer support the virtual reality platform AltspaceVR in favour of the mixed reality network Microsoft Mesh.

Microsoft Mesh, a new framework for connectivity and collaboration, will be released soon, and the company is "looking forward to what is to come" by empowering businesses throughout the globe.

Simply said, "in the short period, we focus our VR attempts on work perspectives and behaviours, understanding from and with our early clients and associates, and assuring we create a foundation that supports safety, confidence, and compliance."

See also: Best Buy acquires U.K. Company Current Health

Microsoft’s Journey In The Gaming Space

Microsoft has developed many non-gaming products with businesses in mind, and its virtual and augmented reality offerings are no exception. The business states that when the VR ideas have been "established" in the workplace, they will "extend" them to customers.

Although AltspaceVR never amassed a sizable user base (a challenge in VR due to the need for specialized technology), it pioneered using VR for social purposes.

By 2015, AltspaceVR had developed a powerful social VR platform where users could congregate in rooms with tranquil vistas and wood panelling to watch Taylor Swift music videos or surf the web together. By simulating how people's ears pick up sounds in the actual world, spatial audio enhanced the immersion and laid the framework for future virtual experiences.

At the time, virtual reality (VR) was mostly used for cutting-edge gaming applications, not virtual hangout areas. Six years after the release of AltspaceVR, Meta released Horizon Worlds, a similar experience with its neutral interiors and not-too-realistic avatars.

Given the proximity to Microsoft's massive company-wide restructuring announced this week, the fate of AltspaceVR is certainly tied to it. It is still being determined if Microsoft will incorporate the device into its other virtual reality projects or scrap it altogether. TechCrunch has contacted AltspaceVR to learn more about the future of the company's workforce and technology in light of the news.

Next Steps For AltspaceVR

Microsoft has declared that it would cut its employment by 5 per cent, affecting 10,000 people, amid layoffs in the deep tech sector. CEO Satya Nadella of Microsoft explained the deep reductions by citing the uncertain economy and the IT industry's slowdown since the epidemic's early days.

Nadella has stated, "We will persist to finance in fundamental sectors for our tomorrow, indicating that we are committing both our money and personnel to places of secular evolution and long-term competition for the company" while simultaneously depriving in other areas.

It's unclear if AltspaceVR was a victim of Microsoft's decision to shelve its metaverse aspirations or whether it was just laid off as part of a larger round of layoffs. A year and a half ago, Facebook rebranded itself as "Meta," setting off a hype cycle about a potentially virtual reality-powered, more immersive vision of social networking.

A year later, the destiny of avatar-driven virtual social areas is unclear since the metaverse debate has already rapid-cycled via the backlash phase. It's interesting remembering a firm that was actively investigating such possibilities years before tech's lumbering giants stepped up, even though the metaverse may have never required special technology at all.


Featured image: AltspaceVR


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