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Future titans of the Metaverse: Part 2

In this series of posts, we explore the past, present and potential future of the largest players in the Metaverse. Today, we’re looking at Microsoft.

Microsoft’s history is well documented. The American multinational computer technology corporation was founded on the 4th of April 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, just a year prior to Apple’s founding in 1976. By the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Microsoft BASIC was the dominant programming language on home computers such as the Apple II and Commodore 64. Microsoft introduced its Windows operating environment to the world on the 20th of November 1985, which soon came to dominant dominate the world's personal computer market with over 90% market share.

In 2001 Microsoft entered the gaming market with its Xbox games console, and on the 30th of March 2016 started to ship its pre-production version of HoloLens, Microsoft’s mixed-reality smartglasses. On the 14th of March 2017, Microsoft launched Microsoft Teams, the chat-based collaboration platform we’ve all come to know and love/loathe during the Covid pandemic. Mesh for Teams was first announced in November 2021, which will allow users to collaborate in virtual spaces and access Teams from their mixed-reality glasses and virtual reality headsets.

HoloLens 2 was announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on the 24th of February 2019, and on the 18th of January 2022, Microsoft shocked the technology and gaming worlds when it announced a $69 billion deal to acquire video game company, and creator of the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises, Activision Blizzard.

So, what role can we expect Microsoft to play in realising the Metaverse? At last year’s Ignite conference, Microsoft's annual technology gathering, chairman and CEO Satya Nadella mentioned the Metaverse six times in his opening keynote. From Nadella’s comments it’s clear Microsoft see that Metaverse as an opportunity to create new platform-level solutions, like Azure, and application-level solutions, like Microsoft Teams. Expect applications like Teams to continue to evolve in a way that facilitates remote and hybrid working and increases interaction through Metaverse technologies, such as mixed-reality smartglasses and headsets.

But what about Microsoft’s plans for gaming in the Metaverse? In January’s Activision Blizzard announcement, Nadella stated that the acquisition would “provide building blocks for the Metaverse”, and highlighted that “gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms”. More importantly Nadella also said that Microsoft were. “investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.”

In an interview with Bloomberg back in November, Nadella said that Microsoft would “absolutely” take existing games like Halo, Minecraft and Flight Simulator into the Metaverse.

In conclusion, across Metaverse platforms, applications, hardware and gaming, it looks to the The Metabite that Microsoft are currently hedging their bets. But that it will, without a doubt, be a future titan of the Metaverse.

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Daniel McCullough/Unsplash

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