AltspaceVR yesterday announced they would be joining Microsoft in a deal that looks to suit both parties. This is quite a turnaround in fortune for AltspaceVR, which bid the world a very sad goodbye on July 28th before announcing on August 15th that AltspaceVR is Back!
The new deal with Microsoft looks good for AltspaceVR :
AltspaceVR will stay AltspaceVR. Microsoft is most interested in preserving the current community that uses AltspaceVR to connect and interact with new and old friends. These first few months will focus on fostering our community and making sure AltspaceVR remains a friendly, welcoming and vibrant place to hang out in virtual reality.
Sometimes when a company gets purchased it gets incorporated in another company and we never really hear of it again. This isn’t the case with this deal and that’s good news.
I do not know why Microsoft have purchased AltspaceVR. but it’s fun to speculate and with my speculation hat on it looks to me as if AltspaceVR was in the right place at the right time to take advantages of developments in Software and Hardware that Microsoft are heavily involved with.
Let’s take a journey back in time at this point and take a look at the History of Second Life :
Andrew Linden stated that Linden Lab started as a hardware company geared towards the research and development of haptics. Although work was underway on a prototype called “The Rig“, haptics were subsequently abandoned due to heavy patent concentration. The Linden Lab employees — commonly known as “Lindens” — needed a virtual world to go with their hardware, so in 2001 they started building “LindenWorld”, as described in an early news story.
Fast forward to today and we see developments in hardware that need developments in software to bring together the disparate parts to make the VR/AR whole.
Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow at Microsoft this week blogged; The era of Windows Mixed Reality begins October 17 :
I had the privilege of sharing more about Microsoft’s mixed reality vison. We unveiled a Windows Mixed Reality headset from Samsung, the Samsung HMD Odyssey, which joins the family of Windows Mixed Reality headsets. I talked about the work we are doing with SteamVR and announced that AltspaceVR is joining our Microsoft team. Finally, we kicked off the holiday buying season by celebrating the availability of pre-orders for Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
In this context, the purchase of AltspaceVR by Microsoft makes perfect sense, they want to promote Windows development with hardware and software. AltspaceVR have put a lot of hard work into developing a platform that can demonstrate hardware and software and that therefore means Microsoft do not have to develop a software product, there’s a ready made solution, it’s an ideal fit.
There is another video on Alex Kipman’s Microsoft blog that you may want to view, it features Alex talking about these developments.
I’m please for AltspaceVR, they seem to have kept a large degree of autonomy and can continue to develop their product and I’m please to see Microsoft so enthusiastic about Mixed Reality.
There have been many gloomy discussions about the future of VR, but from where I am sitting it looks like there’s plenty of light at the end of the tunnel, even if the tunnel is quite a bit longer than many of us first anticipated.