Friday07 October 2022

Microsoft Shows Their Lack of Focus as HoloLens 3 is Scrapped

Reading time is around minutes.

Microsoft has a history of making solid products that go nowhere. If you look at their history this is very clear from Windows Phone to Zune and more. They build it, fail to focus on penetrating the market and then scrap it despite the many talented people on the teams for each of these. Now history is repeating itself in the form of HoloLens.

HoloLens is Microsoft’s Augmented Reality (AR) glass project. The project has received good reviews in terms of its use and the technology behind it, although it still needed work (as do most products). However, as AR takes a bit of a back seat to Virtual Reality devices like the Quest, Vive, and others Microsoft did what they always have done, they pretty much give up. This is due to poor leadership more than anything else. Microsoft has show time and again that they do not understand the markets they are getting into and fail to adapt properly to the demands of those markets.

In looking at what HoloLens offered, it could have been a game changer for that market segment. It was enough of an eye opener for the US Army that the picked Microsoft to build a version for them for $22 Billion. This project is reportedly delayed due to concerns around a device that would hold up in the field. Outside of this Microsoft has laid the groundwork for a AR and mixed reality in general. With their WMR (Windows Mixed Reality) project (which is already in every version of Windows 10 and up).

So how did Microsoft bungle this one? According to some reports it was due to a partnership with Samsung. Its seems that Samsung asked Microsoft to stop work on the hardware side of things and focus on supporting software and eco system. This led to concerns from the internal Microsoft team about the future of the technology as well as resistance to the partnership with Samsung. The confusion seems to be leading some to jump ship and head to other companies like Meta.

Microsoft’s road in MR and AR is very unclear, they have a few options here, but the leadership needs to step up and get a hold on the direction of this project. If they are going to let Samsung build the hardware, great get them on it and refocus the team on the Microsoft side to create the supporting software and ecosystem for it. They should also try their best to retain the hardware engineers and integrate them into the partnership with Samsung. These people did build a product that was ay ahead of its time and should be part of building the next generation of it regardless of who’s factory assembles the final product.

As Microsoft falters we are likely to see Apple step in and take over. Their marketing as well as the mythology around their products being inherently superior will give them a jumpstart over Microsoft here. Apple also has a much better understanding of the market and the future of the “metaverse”. If you do not know what the metaverse is, it is Facebook’s vision of a virtual reality. Basically, living your life in VR with virtual everything (property, real estate, etc.). It is, in our opinion, a distraction and a goofy one at that. Still Microsoft in their own way, think it is the next big thing without know what it is at all (sounds familiar doesn’t it?).

What makes failures like HoloLens, Windows Mobile, and Zune so annoying is that we know Microsoft can make things work. They have done it with the Xbox and the Surface line, so why can’t they repeat that type of success more often?

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