Microsoft’s decision to deprecate Windows Mixed Reality, alongside associated apps, hints at a retreat from the virtual reality (VR) domain.
In IT circles, “deprecated” refers to technology that is no longer recommended but might not be officially retired or unsupported.
Introduced in 2017 to rival HTC and Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality provided a gateway to VR experiences, games, and apps.
Despite compatibility with various headsets from Acer, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, HP, and Samsung, Microsoft’s recent move marks a significant shift away from this VR ecosystem.
Recent years saw Microsoft downsizing its VR division, marked by the departure of HoloLens leader Alex Kipman amid misconduct allegations.
Subsequently, the company cut 10,000 jobs, affecting those working on mixed reality projects, including the termination of AltspaceVR.
Microsoft’s departure from Windows Mixed Reality underscores a reevaluation of its VR priorities, potentially moving away from consumer-oriented VR while maintaining a foothold in enterprise VR solutions.
Initiatives like the Microsoft Mesh app, which facilitates virtual meetings without headsets, and partnerships allowing Quest users access to Office apps and Xbox Cloud Gaming through Meta, indicate a redirection towards alternative VR avenues.
The enterprise-centric HoloLens 2 appears unaffected for now.
Microsoft’s HoloLens is a self-contained, VR device with its own computer and on-board Wifi that targets business users for remote collaboration, education, and training uses.
The HoloLens helps companies train on complex processes and even helps surgeons pre-plan and visualize surgeries before opening patients up.
Microsoft’s reinforcement of this headset with a Windows 11 upgrade and enhancements signals a sustained focus on enterprise VR, despite the sidelining of Windows Mixed Reality.