- Microsoft has decided to discontinue Windows Mixed Reality, a platform that allowed Windows users to access mixed-reality applications on their PCs through the HoloLens
- The news comes following reports of the mixed reality division underperforming as a result of downsizing and lack of demand in the market
- Windows Mixed Reality, released in 2017 with a Windows 10 update, won’t be supported by future versions of the PC operating system
On Thursday, Microsoft updated its list of deprecated Windows features and there was one notable addition, Windows Mixed Reality – a feature through which Windows users could tap into augmented and virtual reality technologies.
Microsoft said that Mixed Reality, along with the accompanying Mixed Reality Portal App and Windows Mixed Reality for Steam VR, has been deprecated and will be removed from future releases of Windows OS.
Microsoft Discontinues Windows Mixed Reality Platform
Mixed Reality was introduced as a feature in a Windows 10 update back in 2017 as part of the company’s bid to compete in the growing virtual reality market against the likes of HTC and Oculus – now owned by Meta.
The tool allowed users to access mixed reality on their personal computers with the help of compatible VR headsets, primarily the Microsoft HoloLens. It served as a portal to games and apps, for watching videos in a more immersive way, and other experiences within the VR space. Users could also have their own mixed-reality Windows experience.
Mixed Reality was also compatible with Windows-supported VR headsets from Acer, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, HP, and Samsung.
Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Endeavor
Microsoft prioritized the mixed reality division during the COVID-19 pandemic as hybrid and remote working was a growing trend among corporates. At the time, the tech giant saw a great opportunity in its mixed reality projects to help other companies better deal with remote working environments.
In 2021, Microsoft launched Mesh, a cloud-based platform that enabled people to collaborate in mixed reality. Mesh made virtual meetings and events such as orientations, training, and employee experiences feel more like face-to-face connections.
The Microsoft Mesh tool kit supported programs like Microsoft Teams, the Azure Cloud, and designing software Unity.
However, the ambitious project has had to with a difficult couple of years. This led to Microsoft downsizing its VR division. In January, the company sacked roughly 10,000 staff globally, including the team behind its mixed reality projects.
Things were not helped by HoloLens boss Alex Kipman leaving the company last year over allegations of sexual misconduct.
This doesn’t mean that Microsoft is bowing out of AR and VR. The company’s $3,500 enterprise-focused HoloLens 2 will continue to be available. The mixed-reality headset even got a free Windows 11 upgrade earlier this year.
What Does the Future Look Like For Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Division?
Despite scrapping plans for a HoloLens 3 and things looking bleak for its AR and VR division, Microsoft continues to work on an updated HoloLens that is specifically designed for the US Army.
Recent reports suggest that Microsoft is working on a custom Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headset based on the HoloLens 2 that will be delivered to the US Army in 2025.
The company’s mixed reality division continues to operate in full steam despite the various setbacks. The Mesh app will soon let co-workers meet up in a virtual space without using a headset. Microsoft also partnered with Meta to let Quest users access Office apps like Excel, PowerPoint, and Word and Xbox games through the Xbox Cloud Gaming service.