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Microsoft’s Shift Away from Augmented Reality as Windows Mixed Reality Ends

Microsoft is shutting down its Windows Mixed Reality platform, acknowledging that the technology hasn't met its full potential.


has confirmed the deprecation of its Windows Mixed Reality (MR) platform, a move that signals the company's acknowledgement of the overestimated potential of MR in the wider technology market. The termination will not only affect the platform itself but also applications such as the Mixed Reality Portal app, along with the Windows MR for SteamVR and the Steam VR Beta.

From Launch to Sunset

Initially launched to high expectations, Microsoft unveiled the Windows Mixed Reality platform in January 2015, alongside the introduction of . At the time, under the moniker “Windows Holographic,” Microsoft showcased their HoloLens augmented reality headset, suggesting significant promise for the future of mixed and augmented reality experiences. The HoloLens demonstration, despite early obscurity about its technical specifications, garnered considerable interest.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, once compared the company's investment in MR to the impactful advent of the Start button, hinting at a revolutionary potential for the new technology. In 2017, Microsoft rebranded “” to “Windows Mixed Reality,” aiming to consolidate its position within the burgeoning sector of VR and AR which countless enterprises were exploring.

Facing a Niche Market Reality

Despite its initial promise, the practical applications of Windows Mixed Reality found traction primarily within specific, limited industries. While the motives behind the high expectations may have been sound, given the general interest in VR and AR technologies at the time, Microsoft's MR platform did not achieve the widespread adoption anticipated.

The reasons behind the lackluster growth remain diverse, encompassing possibly premature market expectations, competition from other tech giants with AR and MR offerings, and the complexity of integrating mixed reality into consumer daily lives beyond niche uses.

The deprecation announcement signifies a change in Microsoft's strategic direction, potentially towards newer ventures in an evolving technological landscape, as observed with their keen interest in integrating Copilot into the next generation of Windows.

Mixed reality remains a dynamic and developing field, with many tech companies still betting on its future. However, it is clear that the industry is beginning to recognize the importance of curating realistic ambitions and clearly defined use cases for this innovative technology to ensure its viability and long-term success.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.