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While Microsoft is not attending CES 2022 this year, the company still has announcements coming digitally and through partners at the expo. One of the biggest reveals came from Qualcomm, which is partnering with Microsoft on new custom chips for augmented reality (AR) with a focus on the metaverse.

In a press release to accompany the partnership, Microsoft and Qualcomm describe themselves as “believers in the metaverse.” Putting aside my own concerns about the metaverse – especially as Meta/Facebook is taking a lead in the tech – there is no doubt tech giants are throwing their weight behind it.

If you are unfamiliar with the Metaverse, it is similar to the OASIS in the movie/novel Ready Player One. A place where users can entertain themselves, shop, consume media, and do just about anything else. It is the virtual reality world science fictions has been discussing for decades.

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Facebook believes enough in its Metaverse that it has rebranded its whole operation under the “Meta” name. As for Microsoft, CEO Satya Nadella has defended the concept as not a way to snatch reality from users.

Expect just about any virtual reality and augmented hardware and software that releases from now on to be focusing on the Metaverse, whether that was the original intention or not. For example, the new MeganeX VR headset that debuted at CES 2022 this week and claims to be the first metaverse-focused VR hardware.

Microsoft and Qualcomm Plans

As for Microsoft and Qualcomm, the companies are promising new AR chipsets that will put emphasis on power efficiency and performance. The duo want to develop chips that are for a new generation of smaller headsets/glasses, much like the MeganeX.

Qualcomm’s vice president and general manager of XR, Hugo Swart, says the following about the collaboration:

“This collaboration reflects the next step in both companies’ shared commitment to XR and the metaverse. Qualcomm Technologies’ core XR strategy has always been delivering the most cutting-edge technology, purpose-built XR chipsets and enabling the ecosystem with our software platforms and hardware reference designs. We are thrilled to work with Microsoft to help expand and scale the adoption of AR hardware and software across the entire industry.”

Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Mixed Reality, Rubén Caballero, adds:

“Our goal is to inspire and empower others to collectively work to develop the metaverse future – a future that is grounded in trust and innovation. With services like Microsoft Mesh, we are committed to delivering the safest and most comprehensive set of capabilities to power metaverses that blend the physical and digital worlds, ultimately delivering a shared sense of presence across devices. We look forward to working with Qualcomm Technologies to help the entire ecosystem unlock the promise of the metaverse.”

Ongoing Partnership

It is not much of a surprise that Microsoft and Qualcomm are taking an early interest in the metaverse. The most interesting aspect of this announcement is it continues a long-standing partnership between the companies just as Qualcomm’s exclusivity for Windows on ARM comes to an end.

Just this week Qualcomm put the blame on the failure of Windows on ARM laptops running the Snapdragon 8cx chipset since 2017 at the foot of OEMs. The company believes manufacturers have been too greedy in selling devices at the $1,000 price point.

Of course, this ignores the fact those devices running Qualcomm chips just did not have the performance or benefits ARM processing is supposed to provide. Both Microsoft and Qualcomm will be hoping for better outcomes from their Metaverse collaboration.

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