Microsoft ends XR cooperation with Samsung - report
Microsoft is reportedly not currently working on Hololens 3 or XR hardware for consumers. Most recently, there were rumors that Microsoft would collaborate with Samsung for consumer XR hardware.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which cites former employees, the rumors about a cooperation between Microsoft and Samsung were true - but the joint project is said to be over. The goal was to develop slimmer and more affordable XR devices for consumers. It is unclear whether Samsung will launch its own "Metaverse device".
Former Hololens engineer regrets wasted potential
According to WSJ, Microsoft has scrapped plans for a Hololens 3. This confirms earlier rumors. Collaboration with the U.S. Army for a military AR headset continues, but the outcome seems uncertain.
Two results that ultimately go back to the same unsolved problem: How do you build AR headsets that are suitable for everyday use, user-friendly and powerful at the same time? This task has not yet been cracked by any company, even though many billions of US dollars have been invested in recent years.
Former Microsoft employees who worked on Hololens for years describe the development of the headsets and software to WSJ as "much tougher than anyone anticipated." In addition, Microsoft's strategy was unclear, they said. Hololens was first unveiled as a gaming device at E3 2015 and later marketed as a B2B headset.
Tim Osborne, a retired Hololens engineer, laments a missed opportunity: "We were way ahead in a lot of things." But Microsoft didn't put enough people or money into the project, Osborne says.
Hardware shortcomings: Microsoft had to trick from the start
According to the former employee, Microsoft had technical problems with Hololens from the beginning and had to find creative ways to conceal them. In a Hololens demo room, for example, the furniture was allegedly screwed into the floor because even the smallest deviations affected the AR headset's tracking. An alleged real-time room scan actually showed a rendering created in advance.
“The whole process at Microsoft was largely about getting people excited about how this could revolutionize the world,” says Avi Bar-Zeev, who helped develop the Screen Zero concept at Microsoft in 2010, the basis for the eventual Hololens. “What they really should have been focused on is what makes this product better than a smartphone.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella most recently announced a software-focused Metaverse strategy and the launch of Office products for Meta Quest hardware. The Hololens team has been disbanded and the various employees have been assigned to other Microsoft hardware and software projects.
In the last two years, more than 100 employees are said to have left the Hololens team and mostly joined Meta. The most prominent changer is probably the former Hololens optics chief Bernard Kress, who went to Google.