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Exclusive: Microsoft Cuts VR Staff and Leaves Questions About Its Metaverse Ambitions –



Microsoft Cuts VR Staff and Leaves Questions About Its Metaverse Ambitions

#Microsoft #Cuts #Staff #Leaves #Questions #Metaverse #Ambitions

Several VR Avatars making various faces and poses.

Microsoft’s Mesh avatars were first showed off in October last year, but excitement over the ‘metaverse’ has depleted significantly since late 2021.
Image: Microsoft

After the dust cleared from Microsoft making moves to lay off over 10,000 employees—5% of its global workforce—it’s become apparent Microsoft isn’t merely taking a different tact on its virtual reality and mixed reality designs, it’s curtailing several of the major teams supposed to plant their virtual flag in the fledgling metaverse.

On Friday, AltspaceVR, a longtime social VR platform known for hosting virtual events, announced it was sunsetting the platform in March. Altspace first launched in 2015, though Microsoft acquired the team in 2017 after the company was struggling financially. Alongside other early VR chat systems, Altspace was used for all sorts of VR meetups including Dungeons & Dragons campaigns long before Wizards of the Coast thought of doing the same thing. In the company’s announcement, the team that’s left will be moving to work on Microsoft Mesh, which is working to integrate VR avatars into Teams, something the company previously called “a gateway to the metaverse.”

It’s unclear how much of the Altspace team is still with Microsoft. One of those fired Altspace team members was Cara Mandel, a senior producer working on the production tools and UI for Microsoft’s metaverse products.

As noted Monday by Windows Central, the layoffs in Microsoft’s VR teams are as wide as they are deep. The team behind the company’s Mixed Reality Toolkit, a cross-platform suite of features meant to help people develop mixed reality apps, was completely decimated. Finn Sinclair, a software engineer at Microsoft who worked on the toolkit team, tweeted Thursday that their entire team was given the boot. Steve Lukas, the director of product management at Qualcomm, all but confirmed the MRTK team had been axed in a Tweet over the weekend.

That MRTK was supposed to help with VR integrations with the Unity engine, the same engine used by Meta in their Horizon Worlds app. The suite was also meant to facilitate Meta’s headsets as well as Microsoft HoloLens. The company had just released the third generation of MRTK in June last year. The team was supposed to release a new build in February.

And if you were thinking that the toolkit was just an extraneous program with little technical application, multiple developers including Unity devs wrote on Twitter they had made extensive use of the toolkit since its inception.

In an email statement to Gizmodo, Microsoft spokesperson Emily Kaye wrote:

“As a company, Microsoft is committed to bringing the physical and digital together in an open, accessible, and secure metaverse. What we’ve learned from AltspaceVR helped set a foundation for our shift to Microsoft Mesh to become a platform that offers the widest opportunity to all involved, including creators, partners and customers.”

Microsoft was supposed to be Meta’s biggest partner in crime trying to fulfill their vague goals of the metaverse, but this latest round of job cuts was born aloft on promises by CEO Satya Nadella to make “changes to our hardware portfolio.”

The HoloLens team had already been hurt last year when its lead developer, Alex Kipman, left the company following severe allegations of sexual harassment. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported Microsoft had eliminated even more jobs from the mixed-reality group, according to anonymous sources with knowledge of the layoffs. These developers were working on HoloLens and the “Integrated Visual Augmented System” AKA the AR headsets being developed for use by the U.S. Army. These layoffs come after Congress significantly scaled back funding for HoloLens tech. The Army’s own tests of the devices noted soldiers were getting nauseous when wearing the helmets, and that the heads up display was way too intrusive during routine operations.

At this point, the biggest VR project in Microsoft’s portfolio remains Mesh. While their own system to rival Horizon Worlds seems to have the same, dry, corporate appearance as Meta avatars, we’re still far away from the AR wonderland of operating holograms in a real-world environment as the company first envisioned early in 2021. And just like Horizon Worlds, the Mesh avatars have yet to see the introduction of legs.



Exclusive: Disney Plus is Taking Longer and Longer to Stream New Marvel Movies – CNET –




Disney Plus is Taking Longer and Longer to Stream New Marvel Movies     - CNET

#Disney #Longer #Longer #Stream #Marvel #Movies #CNET

After the depths of social distancing pushed a wave of big-budget movies straight to streaming, theatrical exclusives are the norm again. But for a while, it seemed like Disney and other big Hollywood movie studios might be falling into a new post-COVID rhythm for how long they kept flicks in theaters before streaming them, one that was much faster in shuttling films to a streaming service than before.

But now streaming release dates are all over the map. And for the biggest films, like Marvel’s, the waits seem to be stretching out longer and longer.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will take longer to start streaming on Disney Plus than any other Marvel movie in the pandemic era — and that may not bode well for how long you’ll have to wait to stream the Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy sequels hitting theaters soon.

When will Black Panther: Wakanda Forever start streaming? 

Disney Plus will start streaming the Black Panther sequel early Wednesday, starting at 12:01 a.m. PT/3:01 a.m. ET. Its streaming-release date is more than three months after it hit theaters. 

How long will it take to stream Marvel’s next big movies?

It’s anybody’s guess, but it probably won’t be quick. 

Last year, Marvel released three films in theaters: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May, Thor: Love and Thunder in July and Wakanda Forever in mid-November. Doctor Strange took 47 days to reach Disney Plus. Thor hit Disney Plus 62 days after its theatrical release.

Now Wakanda Forever will take 82 days to start streaming. 

That’s the longest that a Marvel movie has spent in theaters before streaming on Disney Plus since the company resumed theatrical exclusives in 2021. That year, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was in theaters for 70 days and Eternals for 68 days. 


(Coincidence or not, the Marvel film that Disney gave the shortest theatrical window among them also had the best overall box office performance. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness grossed more than $955 million worldwide. Wakanda Forever has generated $840 million.)

However, Wakanda Forever may have been held off Disney Plus so long because of a consideration that doesn’t apply to those other Marvel films this year: The movie, with a Black director and predominantly Black cast, is debuting on Disney Plus on the first day of Black History Month. Disney hasn’t stated any connection in the timing, but it’s possible the film’s wait to start streaming may have been drawn out to coincide.  

Still, big Hollywood companies like Disney aren’t prioritizing streaming-subscriber growth nearly as much as they did, depressing the incentive to bring big movies to a service quickly. 

Paramount, for example, kept Top Gun: Maverick off its streaming service for 209 days, nearly seven months. The strategy paid dividends at the box office, with the Top Gun sequel grossing nearly $1.5 billion.

Disney has been much more aggressive than Paramount at putting its movies onto its streaming service quickly, but Disney is starting to show that it may be holding back its big-budget films longer in theaters as well. With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania set to hit theaters next month, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 following in May and The Marvels arriving in July, you could be waiting more than three months to stream each of them if they stick to Wakanda Forever’s pace. 

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Exclusive: OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event –




OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event

#OnePlus #11R #OnePlus #Pad #set #launched #OnePlus #Feb #Cloud #Event

Although OnePlus has already launched its flagship device for the year, OnePlus 11 in China, they are yet to launch the device in India and the rest of the world. OnePlus has confirmed that the global launch of the OnePlus 11 will take place in India on February 7. However, it seems that OnePlus may be launching a bunch of other devices as well.

OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event

OnePlus has a bunch of products lined up for its upcoming Cloud Event, including the OnePlus 11, OnePlus 11R, OnePlus Buds Pro 2, the OnePlus Keyboard, a new OnePlus TV and the OnePlus Pad.

OnePlus will also launch the OnePlus 11R along with the OnePlus 11. The OnePlus 11R hasn’t been launched anywhere else and was actually expected to be launched sometime in March or April. 

Amazon India pushed a notification prompt via its app yesterday, which said that the OnePlus 11R 5G will also launch on February 7th, 7:30 PM in India. OnePlus though is yet to make any such announcement.

OnePlus has a bunch of products to offer during its upcoming February 7th Cloud Event, including the OnePlus 11 5G, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2, its first-ever Keyboard, and the new OnePlus TV 65 Q2 Pro. It only makes sense that OnePlus, instead of just launching one of their premium smartphone devices at the event, may choose to launch the entire series on the same day.

A rumour has also surfaced which says that OnePlus may launch the OnePlus Pad as well at the event. Rumours of the OnePlus Pad have been going around since 2021 with more recent speculation suggesting a launch in 2023.

There isn’t much information out there about the OnePlus Pad. However, given the close ties that OnePlus has with Oppo, the OnePlus Pad may be a rebadged Oppo Pad or Oppo Pad Air.


Coming back the smartphones, the global version of the top tier OnePlus 11 is expected to with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2 SoC, a 6.7-inch E4 QHD+ OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, 50MP primary camera sensor with two additional cameras, 48MP and a 32MP unit, all of which have been tuned by Hasselblad, up to 512GB storage, and a large 5,000mAh battery which supports 100W fast charging. The OnePlus 11 is expected to be priced around the Rs 50,000 mark for the base variant.

The OnePlus 11R, on the other hand, is expected to come with a 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and powered by a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, which will likely be paired with up to 16GB RAM and up to 512GB storage. As for the cameras, the OnePlus 11R 5G is tipped to come with a 50MP + 12MP + 2MP triple rear camera setup and a 16MP selfie snapper. Lastly, the device will reportedly feature a 5,000mAh battery with 100W fast charging support.

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Exclusive: Tesla Cybertruck mass production won’t start until 2024 –




Tesla Cybertruck mass production won’t start until 2024

#TeslaCybertruck #mass #production #wont #start

Tesla’s long-anticipated Cybertruck won’t be seeing full volume production until 2024, Elon Musk said during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call today.

During the call, Musk was asked whether the forthcoming vehicle would meet a mid-2023 production target that was set in Q2 last year. Musk cagily confirmed that Cybertruck manufacturing would start “sometime this summer,” but concluded that mass production of the polarizing pickup won’t start until next year. “I always try to downplay the start of production,” Musk said. “It increases exponentially, but it is very slow at first.”

Cybertruck was originally announced in 2019 to widespread interest, but has seen its production delayed several times. Pre-production was originally supposed to start in late 2021, but was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then slated for sometime in 2023, a projection made a year ago. Additionally, last year Musk told investors Cybertruck’s specs and price “will be different,” (read: will be more expensive).

As a consolation prize, Tesla revealed on Wednesday that it has started installing the production equipment needed for the Cybertruck’s assembly, including the castings that will produce the electric pickup’s body. The Cybertruck is expected to be largely manufactured at the company’s Gigafactory in Austin, Texas.

Industry experts warned that the timeline needed to be sped up in order for the Cybertruck to have its desired impact. “Cybertruck will be hitting an increasingly crowded sector of the EV market amid the F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, and likely the Chevy Silverado EV and RAM 1500 EV following closely behind,” said Edmunds executive director of insights Jessica Cawell in an email to The Verge. “The downside for Tesla is that the Cybertruck almost seems like old news.”

There’s still a lot of attention on the Cybertruck after its over-the-top unveiling that introduced its aggressive, post apocalyptic design. Maybe if Tesla throws more metal balls around it can get production rolling.

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