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Microsoft continues Mixed Reality push with its latest reorganization

With development for Windows Mixed Reality and Windows 10 continuing at full steam, recent documentation has revealed how Microsoft is reorganizing its internal structure to take advantage of its push into the augmented reality market. These changes focus on applications and services related to the aforementioned products.

Most notably, Microsoft is combining Everyday Magic (EDM) and Evoke Studios into a single entity. The former is responsible for Paint 3D - the app that replaced traditional Paint in Windows 10 - and Mixed Reality Viewer, among others; the latter is responsible for the Photos and Videos application in Windows 10. The downside of this shuffle, however, is that some employees were made redundant, as reported earlier.

The new division will report to Chris Pratley, who is known for his work on OneNote and Sway. A new Mixed Reality studio was also created that will focus on implementing related products in the modern workplace. Megan Saunders, who is credited for her work on the EDM Studio as well as products like Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens, will move to a yet-to-be-announced role within Microsoft.

Another division within the company that is being reorganized is referred to as Pentad. Since the document did not declare what that term stood for, Mary Jo Foley concluded, after some digging, that it could refer to a reshuffling of responsibilities under Harry Shum, who is the Executive Vice President of Artificial Intelligence & Research. It will reportedly align five main groups within the Redmond giant under his oversight, namely Information Platform, Cortana and Bing, Ambient Computing/Robotics, NEXT, and his leadership team.

In the case of NEXT, the reorganized division will focus on key aspects that will 'push the company forward', of which Brad Sams broke down as follows:

  • Graph and Data: A new team defining the capabilities and creative vision for how data and analytics become a crucial element in defining user experiences.
  • Foundry: Incubating new types of experiences plus pushing and validating platform and hardware incubation that bring value across NEXT strategic initiatives.
  • Source: Focuses on data reporting, AppsPortal, and validation with hardware partners.
  • Education: This is a new team to drive wide efforts in education which the company hopes will be the next big growth area for the org.
  • S&O: Product innovation through trend analysis and business design.
  • Basecamp: this team is the storytelling side of NEXT and the Community, Content and SpecIT teams are moving under this umbrella.
  • Design Activation: This is a new team focused on NEXT wide UX and audio designs.
  • Studio Maya: This is a new operation based in India and is focused on mixed reality and 2D devices.
  • Data Compliance: A new team helping to maintain that helps the team maintain compliance and meet standards such as business rules and data definition/integrity.
  • Data Science: Data analysis and product insight for NEXT data.

One of the key areas Microsoft is focusing on is education; recently it announced a partnership with hardware OEMs introducing four laptops that start at a mere $189 aimed at students and educators. Beyond that, it's also noteworthy that Cortana - it's digital assistant - will be arriving on more devices throughout 2018. The assistant has seen intense competition from the likes of Amazon, and the tech giant refocusing could help it claw back some of its lost mindshare.

As for Windows 10, the upcoming Redstone 4 update is on track and shouldn't be affected by this shuffle.

Source: Petri | Image via Drew Gottlieb (Youtube)

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