Microsoft Kills Off AltspaceVR Amid Major Layoffs

AltspaceVR is shutting down in March as Microsoft decimated its teams working in VR & AR this week as part of a major workforce reduction across the entire company.

Altspace was one of the early VR-based social networking services alongside others like Rec Room and VRChat. As an independent startup Altspace ran out of money, but in 2017 Microsoft acquired it and continued the effort. Microsoft says it is shifting “our focus to support immersive experiences powered by Microsoft Mesh.” We tried out Mesh on HoloLens 2 back in 2021 and were pretty impressed by its functionality, with the company saying it’ll be officially launching the service as “a new platform for connection and collaboration, starting by enabling workplaces around the world.”

Here’s an excerpt from Microsoft’s “sunset” update on altvr.com:

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. It has been a privilege to help unlock passions among users, from educational opportunities for personal growth to the development of unique and wonderful events, groundbreaking art, and immersive experiences — enabling this community to achieve more. With Mesh, we aspire to build a platform that offers the widest opportunity to all involved, including creators, partners and customers.

Late last year the HP Reverb G2 headset saw steep discounts and, given it is the last headset for sale using the Windows Mixed Reality platform, pointed to the likelihood that Microsoft is moving on from the platform. Microsoft laid off 10,000 people this week, roughly 5 percent of its workforce, joining the likes of Meta, Snap and many others in reducing a significant percentage of its workforce.

Microsoft posted instructions for creators on how to download content before the March 10, 2023 shutdown date, while noting “AltspaceVR Worlds are not able to be downloaded in full or ported directly to another platform because AltspaceVR is a mix of Worlds made up of a collection of assets owned by a variety of different entities.”

“While you cannot download them in full, you are able to download items from your World’s data, which we call meta-data,” Microsoft explains, providing people files with references noted as comma-separated values.

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