- Microsoft has disbanded the team in charge of fostering interaction between customers and the metaverse in industrial settings.
- The disbandment comes with the layoff plan to let go of 10,000 jobs and 5% of its workforce.
Microsoft has folded its Industrial Metaverse Core team. The technology company formed the group four months ago to encourage interaction between customers and the Metaverse in industrial settings.
Internally referred to as “Project Bonsai,” the team was to help create software interfaces for operating the industrial control systems behind industrial robotics, electrical power plants, and transportation networks.
The Metaverse core team collaborated with clients in the health care, retail financial institutions, and energy industries, among others, to develop materials for industrial customers.
The decision piggybacks Microsoft’s layoff plan, announced this month by CEO Satya Nadella. Nadella confirmed in a blog post that the company would be letting go of 10,000 employees, around 5% of its workforce.
She cited AI advancements and customers’ digital spending and operating costs as reasons for the layoff, adding;
“I’m confident that Microsoft will emerge from this stronger and more competitive, but it requires us to take actions grounded in three priorities. Today, we are making changes that will reduce our overall workforce by 10,000 jobs through the end of FY23 Q3.”
According to Bloomberg, the layoffs also affected other parts of its metaverse sector. Employees responsible for HoloLens hardware development have been disbanded, along with others in charge of developing the Surface device lineup and Xbox video game console.
The majority of the layoffs at the latter division are reportedly in the marketing department and the Gaming Ecosystem Group.
Is Microsoft Still Committed to the Industrial Metaverse?
Microsoft has been public with its intentions to enter the Metaverse since last year, focusing on Meta for expansion. The multinational tech company has gained the attention of industrial entities, including Coca-Cola and Mercedes Benz.
While it is unclear how the disbandment might affect Microsoft’s investment in the Metaverse, the company has assured clients of its continued commitment.
“Microsoft remains committed to the industrial metaverse,” the company said in a statement to CoinDesk.
“We are applying our focus to the areas of the industrial Metaverse that matter most to our customers, and they will see no change in how they are supported. We look forward to sharing additional information in the future.”
Meanwhile, the company’s VR platform, AltspaceVR, will be permanently closed from March 10, 2023. It will be replaced with Microsoft Mesh.
Speaking on the shutdown, Microsoft said;
“We see the opportunity for VR expanding beyond consumer into business and now have an even greater goal: a more open, accessible, and secure version of immersive experiences in the metaverse.”
Microsoft Mesh will focus on AR, VR, and mixed reality. Microsoft intends to build a platform that offers “the widest opportunities to all involved, including creators, partners, and customers.”