Metaverse

Microsoft Shuts Down VR Metaverse, Lays off Thousands, and Invests Billions into OpenAI

Microsoft has announced that it is shutting down its virtual social reality platform AltspaceVR, plans to lay off 10,000 employees, and is investing billions of dollars into its partnership with OpenAI.

Metaverse

Microsoft Shuts Down VR Metaverse, Lays off Thousands, and Invests Billions into OpenAI

Microsoft has announced that it is shutting down its virtual social reality platform AltspaceVR, plans to lay off 10,000 employees, and is investing billions of dollars into its partnership with OpenAI.

Microsoft has recently made some big moves that signal a shift in the tech giant’s focus and strategy. Microsoft has announced that it is shutting down its virtual social reality (VR) platform AltspaceVR, plans to lay off 10,000 employees, and is investing billions of dollars into its partnership with OpenAI, a research company behind ChatGPT and DALE-2. This news has sent shockwaves across the tech industry, as the company’s decisions will drastically change the landscape of it’s future along with virtual reality and artificial intelligence sectors.

The news comes shortly after major headlines last week, as they announced to lay off over 10,000 employees to cut costs and gear their focus towards AI tech. Becoming yet another latest addition among other tech giants announcing recent layoffs. Microsoft claimed this to be the largest round of layoffs in nearly eight years, and is set to start on Wednesday of this week and continue until March.

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella  said in a message to staff that the layoffs “are the kinds of hard choices we have made throughout our 47-year history to remain a consequential company in this industry that is unforgiving to anyone who doesn’t adapt to platform shifts.”

Amidst the massive layoff, the tech giant continue to move forward on their biggest bet yet, artificial intelligence. Microsoft is investing billions more dollars into OpenAI, the maker of the viral AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT. The tech giant is seeking to further its commitment to generative artificial intelligence with an additional $10 billion investment and a $69 billion purchase of the video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc.

Alongside these announcements, Microsoft has shared to permanently shut down AltspaceVR, a social virtual worlds platform it acquired in 2017, on March 10. The company cited its decision to shift focus onto launching Microsoft Mesh, a VR experience for Microsoft Teams, the company’s video conferencing platform, as the reason for the closure. AltspaceVR hosted user-generated spaces called “Worlds” and live virtual events, from a magic show to a red carpet premiere, connecting people worldwide.  AltspaceVR encouraged its community to host final events and download its content as the company will focus on developing Microsoft Mesh.

 “Over the past decade, our platform has played host to an astonishing array of virtual events and experiences: group meditations, LGBTQ+ meetups, faith-based gatherings, open mics, stand-up comedy, karaoke, concerts, and so much more. It has provided a space for people to explore their identities, express themselves, and find community,” AltspaceVR wrote in its email to users announcing the shutdown. “It has unlocked passions among users, provided incredible educational opportunities and pathways to personal growth, and inspired many to create unique and wonderful events, experiences, art, and Worlds. People have formed cherished friendships, found love, and even married IRL. Though it’s sad to say goodbye, we are heartened by the absolute magic that happened here.”

Microsoft Mesh is Microsoft’s ambitious attempt at unifying holographic virtual collaboration across multiple devices, such as virtual reality headsets, augmented reality, laptops, and smartphones.

“The decision [to shutter AltspaceVR] has not been easy as this is a platform many have come to love, providing a place for people to explore their identities, express themselves, and find community,” the Altspace VR press release said. “With Mesh, we aspire to build a platform that offers the widest opportunity to all involved, including creators, partners, and customers.”

These major shifts come at an interesting time as other major tech giants continue to invest heavily in metaverse production and cut costs alongside significant layoffs across the board. While companies such as Apple and Meta continue moving forward with their emerging tech and metaverse endeavors, Microsoft is taking a step back and going full throttle on AI, besides its controversies and legalities. 

In other web3 news, Will the Associated Press and NatGeo’s New NFT Marketplaces Meet the Same Fate As Other Media Publishers?

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