It should come as no surprise that Microsoft uses a lot of contract employees to chew through all of the work cut out for it. It should be even less of a surprise that a lot of them aren’t located in the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. What is a bit surprising is that somewhere in the vicinity of 60 employees have been moved or laid off from the Israel-based workforce that has been putting in work on the upcoming Hololens.
News of the layoffs comes from one such affected employee who tipped off the Israeli website Ynet.co.il. The tipster goes on to explain that 30 contract workers had been laid off, while another 30 Microsoft employees were given one month to find an open position within the company before facing a similar fate.
The reason for the layoffs abroad, according to the source, is that Microsoft has decided to pursue production of the Hololens in the United States using a different technology from what the Israelis were pursuing. There have been some initial limitations of the field of view in the early versions of the Hololens, and rumor has it Microsoft is looking for a way to expand that aspect of the product. Whether the layoffs are in fact related to this is speculation, but it’s a pretty safe bet that field of view improvement will be a focus of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts.
The Hololens isn’t far from an early 2016 release for developers. Because it will carry a hefty price tag of $3,000, it’s likely that those who pick one up will be expecting an early rendition. However, if the final version is going to have a wider field of view, it’s something those devs will want to have in their hands from day one with the device.
Microsoft’s augmented reality headset remains shrouded in mystery, and a lot of the important details are likely to remain shrouded until the Hololens starts finding its way out into the world. When it does, it will either change the way a lot of people use their computers, or possibly be an expensive and very visible flop — but these 60 layoffs may be an indication of which way the project is headed.
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