The Microsoft-owned Social VR platform AltspaceVR will close on March 10. In its place, the enterprise and productivity metaverse, Microsoft Mesh, will take over.
In 2017, Microsoft acquired AltspaceVR to act as their Social VR and consumer counterpart to their Mixed Reality Platform for VR headsets and its HoloLens AR headsets. Since then, AltspaceVR became the moniker of VR events ranging from VR language learning to virtual improv comedy nights. But in the change of direction for XR at Microsoft, the Altspace VR platform will close on March 10, 2023.
In its wake, AltspaceVR will leave room for Microsoft’s enterprise and productivity platform, Microsoft Mesh, connected with Teams. MS Mesh is an XR collaboration and remote workplace platform for workers to connect online and in virtual worlds.
In line with the partnership between Meta and Microsoft, the enterprise platforms of Dynamics, Azure, Teams, and Mesh will become compatible with Meta’s VR headsets, namely the Meta Quest Pro. Further connecting with what Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, has stated that Microsoft needs to focus on XR software irrespective of who produces the hardware. Nevertheless, with the HoloLens being refurbished as IVAS for the US Army and a recent industrial edition being released, it seems an upcoming HoloLens 3 is uncertain.
Lastly, 2023 signals the year of mixed reality with new VR headsets like Lenovo ThinkReality VRX and Lynx R1 and existing ones like Pico 4 Enterprise, targeting the rise of MR for enterprises. Such a shift within XR presents alternatives to premium AR headsets and increases the competition for the HoloLens 2. Similarly, since Magic Leap’s change of direction to enterprise AR and the release of the cutting-edge AR headset Magic Leap 2, Microsoft may be reacting and refocusing on its core business: software platforms for productivity and enterprises.
Jakob Pii is Writer at VR Expert and currently lives in the UK. He started his career in VR gaming in 2015 and has stayed in XR since, from exposure therapy in VR to 360-degree video documentaries. He is fascinated by how emerging technologies change how we live, play and work.