Microsoft is Expanding its Commitment to Mixed Reality Hardware

Posted on March 30, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 4 Comments

Microsoft’s commitment to the VR/AR space is expanding and the company is going to be making a big push this holiday season to help sell Windows 10 PCs with HMDs. In an internal email sent by Yusuf Mehdi, the company is making significant investments in this space and is changing up the org chart a bit to give the products in this category more visibility.

Last week, the company hired Liz Hamren, from CMO of Oculus VR, who joined Microsoft as CVP of Mixed Reality Marketing, reporting directly to Yusuf Mehdi; the company is creating a dedicated Mixed Reality Marketing Team, separating it from the Surface devices team. Additionally, the company now has a new dedicated mixed reality sales team to grow this phase of their business.

Even though the holiday season may seem like a distant idea to many, Microsoft is already gearing up for Christmas 2017 and will begin pushing the new HMD (head mounted displays) as part of their holiday strategy.

From the internal email by Yusuf, he says that Microsoft will be making a significant investment this holiday season to market Windows 10 PCs that can power these HMDs. The company is preparing itself to accelerate their mixed reality initiative which means they are going all-in on these devices and see a bright future for the platform.

With a completely new team inside of Microsoft now pushing mixed reality devices and hardware, we can better understand the company’s commitment to the technology and how they are looking to further sell Windows 10 PCs. Make no mistake, Microsoft wants Windows to be the foundation for these types of devices and is making moves to ensure that this happens.

Even though it may be early in the year, we know that Microsoft will be heavily pushing a new Xbox console (Scorpio) and these headsets during the holiday shopping seasons. For gamers and fans of VR/AR, this year has a lot to offer.

Yusuf’s email is below:

Team,

One of the biggest bets Microsoft is making for the future of computing is the development of a new world of mixed reality, led in large part by our pioneering work on Microsoft HoloLens. We have been on this journey from the unveil of HoloLens back in January 2015, to the announcement from our OEM partners of the first headsets capable of mixed reality last October, to the release of the first Windows 10 Mixed Reality dev kits this month. As we gear up for this coming holiday, we enter a new phase of bringing mixed reality to everyone.

To match the industry-defining technical work of our engineering team and to build on the broader work to establish the category of Mixed Reality, I am excited today to announce some changes within our team to enable us to accelerate our market presence.

  1. Acknowledging the growing importance of this category, I am creating a dedicated Mixed Reality Marketing Team, separating it from the Surface devices team, and taking it as a direct report.
  2. With support from Chris and Satya, we created a CVP level role to head this effort. I am thrilled to announce that after a thorough search, we have found an ideal leader in Elizabeth Hamren, the former CMO of Oculus VR at Facebook. Liz will be joined by Jeff Hansen, Sandhya Thodla and their teams, who have been doing great work driving our progress to date.
  3. We are going to ramp up our sales efforts by investing in a dedicated set of sellers and TSPs for FY18. Combined with the significant marketing investment we are making for this coming holiday with mixed reality headsets marketed on Windows 10 PCs by the Windows 10 marketing team, we are set up to have an acceleration of our mixed reality initiative.

As CVP of Mixed Reality Marketing, Liz will be responsible for driving the global business and marketing strategy, working closely with our internal partners in engineering, Windows product marketing, integrated marketing, the MCB and Commercial teams, and external partners around the world. We have big, bold goals for mixed reality and the impact it can have on our overall Windows and Devices Group ambition to create more personal computing.

Liz is an industry veteran with extensive experience in product marketing, management, and development across a range of devices, spanning over 20 years. Prior to her role as CMO of Oculus VR, Liz served as the Vice President of Marketing at Dropcam, a cloud-based Wi-Fi video monitoring service, acquired by Nest Labs. She oversaw all aspects of marketing, including brand and advertising, product marketing, channel marketing, public relations and social media, as well as web and subscription sales. Liz has also served as Vice President of Marketing at Plantronics and Vice President of Marketing at Jawbone. Previous leadership positions have included posts at OQO, Mayfield Fund and Microsoft (which she left in 2002). She also served as a Director of Cozi Group, Inc. Liz has a BSE in Civil Engineering and Operations Research from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

I am looking forward to learning from Liz and adding her extensive industry experience to our WDG Marketing Leadership Team. It’s an exciting time as we push forward in this critical area for the company.  Liz officially joins Microsoft today, just in time to join the Exec Retreat, and she will join the team in the office soon.  Please welcome Liz to the team.

Yusuf

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Comments (4)

4 responses to “Microsoft is Expanding its Commitment to Mixed Reality Hardware”

  1. zybch

    They're gonna have their work cut out for them.

    In the latest steam hardware survey there are so few PCs capable of adequate VR/MR without custom silicon (like Hololens has) that its going to be a non-starter unless we're all prepared to have cartoon graphics instead of anything approaching realism.

    Now for a lot of MR applications thats gonna be okay (probably), but some sort of big splash is going to be needed if VR on PC isn't going to fade faster than PSVR or 3D TVs, and the price is going to have to be VERY reasonable to attract fence-sitters. I'm not even sure the $300 acer HMD is going to be cheap enough.

  2. Tony Barrett

    VR/MR will always be niche, and it will never go mainstream. Unwieldy, expensive headsets will see to that. MS seem to be going headlong into this, expecting to be leading the pack as customers line up to buy the kit. I just think it won't happen. Full VR will be mainly for gamers who are prepared to pay big bucks for the total immersive experence, while MR will be for specialised markets. 3D failed spectacularly in the home because people didn't even like wearing often free, lightweight glasses, and these headsets are 10 times worse! Google tried with 'Glass', but had to go back to the drawing board, as people didn't like wearing the eyewear, and got odd looks from others.


    I didn't mind spending $5 on Google cardboard for 10 minutes of fun, but even that wore off very quickly. This will just fizzle out when the sales don't materialise. What MS probably don't get is that if you show something like this to someone, they'll probably go - yeah, that's cool - for a few minutes of fun. Next, ask them if they'd actually buy one and it would be an almost unanimous no.

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