Microsoft Corp. has announced that Alex Kipman, the leading executive of the HoloLens AR (Augmented Reality) goggles, will step down from his position. As per the Insider report which came last May, he was accused of inappropriate behaviour towards female employees at Microsoft by current and former workers.
Alex Kipman was Microsoft’s one of the longest tenured employees, joining in 2001. He had been the public face of the HoloLens initiative. Previously he had stints with Microsoft’s Windows and XBox teams. His resignation comes at the time when the tech giant is splitting its HoloLens mixed reality group.
The changes come as Microsoft waits on the fate of a $21.9 billion Army contract that may determine whether there’s enough demand for the HoloLens to continue the product’s development.
The company had agreed to provide a customised version of the head-worn accessory for the US Army in a 10-year accord that would include as many as 121,500 goggles along with spare parts, logistics and program management support. But that project has not gone smoothly and the Army said in April that it may spend less than half the maximum amount.
The restructuring was announced in an internal email where company’s parting ways with Kipman was announced as well as shifting the company's Mixed Reality Hardware group into the Windows and Devices organisation, and its Mixed Reality Presence and Collaboration group into the Microsoft Teams organisation in the company's Experiences and Devices division.
HoloLens hardware will now be overseen by Panos Panay, who heads Microsoft's Surface computer division, while Jeff Teper, a Corporate Vice President managing areas like the Teams collaboration product, will take over the software part of the group.
Scott Guthrie, the Head of Microsoft's Cloud and AI Group, said in the email that the changes "will align and further accelerate our overall Metaverse efforts as a company this coming fiscal year".