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    Microsoft Ends Mixed Reality Era: A Strategic Shift in Virtual Reality Focus

      TL;DR: Microsoft has announced the deprecation of its Windows Mixed Reality platform, initially launched in 2017, marking its retreat from the virtual reality space. This decision includes phasing out the Mixed Reality Portal app and Windows Mixed Reality for Steam VR in future Windows updates. Despite this step back, Microsoft’s interest in virtual reality persists through other projects like the Microsoft Mesh app and a partnership with Meta for Quest users. The move follows a broader restructuring within Microsoft, including downsizing efforts affecting its VR division and the departure of HoloLens head Alex Kipman.

    Deprecation of Windows Mixed Reality

    Microsoft has officially marked the end of its Windows Mixed Reality platform, a system initially launched in 2017. This decision, announced via an update to a list of deprecated Windows features, signifies Microsoft’s step back from its once-ambitious virtual reality endeavors. Windows Mixed Reality, along with the Mixed Reality Portal app and Windows Mixed Reality for Steam VR, is set to be phased out and removed in a future Windows release.

    Shift in Focus and Downsizing

    The move away from Windows Mixed Reality aligns with Microsoft's broader shift in strategy and recent downsizing efforts in its VR division. Notably, Alex Kipman, the head of the HoloLens project, departed last year amidst allegations of misconduct. Additionally, Microsoft's recent job cuts, affecting about 10,000 positions, included many roles linked to mixed reality projects. This included the AltspaceVR app, another casualty in Microsoft's changing approach to virtual and mixed reality.

    Continued Ventures in Virtual Applications

    Despite the deprecation of Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft maintains its interest in other virtual reality applications. The company's Microsoft Mesh app, poised to allow virtual meetings without the need for headsets, is an example of this ongoing commitment. Furthermore, Microsoft’s partnership with Meta permits Quest users to access Microsoft Office applications and Xbox Cloud Gaming, indicating a continued exploration of VR's potential in various domains.

    This move by Microsoft reflects a recalibration of its priorities within the virtual and augmented reality space, aligning with broader industry trends and internal company dynamics. While the Windows Mixed Reality platform will soon be a thing of the past, Microsoft's engagement in the virtual world continues through different avenues and partnerships.

    Image Credit: DALLE-3

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