Microsoft has “no roadmap to speak of” for Hololens – report

Microsoft has “no roadmap to speak of” for Hololens – report

Microsoft saves on XR, military Hololens IVAS remains a troubled project.

According to sources from Business Insider, Microsoft is cutting back on XR: There is currently “no roadmap to speak of” for Hololens. Instead, Microsoft would focus on fulfilling the Military Hololens (IVAS) contract with the U.S. Army. But here, too, problems are said to continue.

Microsoft mixed reality team: divide and cut

The sales targets of up to $100 million per quarter with the regular Hololens are not likely to be nearly reached, Business Insider’s sources report. At a price of 3500 US dollars, Microsoft would have to sell around 30,000 devices. The largest sale so far in the recent past was one million US dollars worth of devices to a startup that develops mixed reality for the government and the public sector.

Following the departure of Hololens co-inventor Alex Kipman in June, Microsoft has distributed the mixed reality team among existing hardware and software teams. A Business Insider source says that Kipman’s departure was internally assessed as necessary, but that Microsoft has since lacked a vision for XR technology. A former Microsoft employee suspects that the Teams app will become Microsoft’s central Metaverse project.

According to Business Insider’s sources, the XR teams have also had to accept significant budget cuts. Even requests for business trips to partners and for office supplies are said to have been rejected. According to Microsoft spokesman Frank X. Shaw, these budget cuts are not specific to the IVAS team or to Mixed Reality. They affect the entire industry.

Microsoft announced a major collaboration with Meta on Windows and Office applications as part of the launch of Meta’s new Quest Pro mixed reality headset. This can also be taken as an indication that Microsoft has put its own XR strategy on the back burner, especially when it comes to developing new hardware.

Most recently, there were rumors that Microsoft could work with Samsung on a new XR headset. However, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made it clear that Microsoft’s further Metaverse strategy will focus on software.

Further criticism of military hololens

Business Insider also had access through a source to an Army report on a field test of the military IVAS Hololens. In the report, one tester states that the devices “would have gotten us killed” because the headset’s bright display lights are visible from a great distance.

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While Microsoft has been able to successfully modify the display recently, IVAS is said to still fall short of expectations, passing only two out of six evaluation procedures. Besides the bright display lights, the soldiers’ criticisms are the high weight, which restricts the freedom of movement, and the limited field of view due to the headset.

The U.S. Army most recently communicated a successful test of IVAS in ground combat in interaction with vehicles. Prior to that, there was mainly critical news about the device: The immature technology led to massive cuts in the project budget for the coming year.

Nevertheless, the Army remains committed to the project, most recently ordering a batch of up to 5,000 high-tech combat glasses worth a total of $373 million. The overall project has a potential budget of up to $22 billion, assuming Microsoft can meet the Army’s needs.

Brigadier General Christopher D. Schneider tells Business Insider the IVAS project “achieved success in most of the Army evaluation criteria.” However, he said the preliminary results also identified areas where the device requires improvement, which will be addressed by the Army.

“The Army will provide the most reliable and advanced equipment to its soldiers,” the statement said.

Microsoft is reportedly planning IVAS-like devices for other public sectors, including aviation and 3D terrain services. The Army is also expected to subscribe to the IVAS software.

Sources: Business Insider