Microsoft is Retiring its AltspaceVR Virtual Reality Platform

Microsoft announced that it’s sunsetting AltspaceVR, the social virtual reality platform that the company acquired back in 2017. AltspaceVR will shut down on March 10, 2023, and the team said that Microsoft will redirect its resources toward its enterprise-focused Microsoft Mesh platform.

AltspaceVR is a free VR platform that’s currently available on the most popular VR headsets, as well as Windows and macOS in 2D mode. The platform lets users create virtual events such as conferences, live concerts, comedy shows, and more.

With AltspaceVR shutting down soon, users are now invited to download their personal data including photos, friends lists, and past event information and metrics. “The decision has not been an easy one as this is a platform many have come to love, providing a place for people to explore their identities, express themselves, and find community,” the AltspaceVR team wrote

The news of Microsoft shutting down AltspaceVR comes right after the company announced that it was laying off 10,000 employees. The workforce reductions have impacted Microsoft’s mixed-reality group, including the team working on HoloLens 2 and the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headset designed for the US Army.

According to Windows Central, Microsoft has also laid off the entire team that was working on the Mixed Reality Tool Kit (MRTK), which developers could use to develop cross-platform mixed reality apps. The freshly released MRTK3 came with experimental support for a wide range of platforms beyond HoloLens 2 including the Meta Quest and SteamVR, as well as Windows Mixed Reality and the traditional Windows experience.

Even though Microsoft is scaling down its mixed-reality group quite significantly, the company still aims to make its Mesh for Microsoft Teams platform support both enterprise and consumer use cases. “In the near-term, we are focusing our VR efforts on workplace experiences, learning from and alongside our early customers and partners, and ensuring we deliver a foundation that enables security, trust and compliance. Over time, we hope to extend to consumer experience a well,” the Altspace VR team said.

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