With latest reorg, Microsoft looks to evolve Windows Mixed Reality initiatives

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Yesterday, Microsoft let go of some employees and cut back on payroll. At the time the details were vague, and it was not certain which specific divisions of the company were involved in the layoffs. Brad Sams of Petri.com has since learned more about the impact of the layoffs via internal memos sent at Microsoft, revealing the changes apparently impact the company’s Windows Mixed Reality initiatives.

As the first part of the recent changes, Microsoft combined EDM (Everyday Magic) and Evoke Studios into a new division. For those unfamiliar with internal codenames, EDM includes Paint 3D, Remix 3D, Mixed Reality Viewer, and all Mixed Reality app development. Evoke Studios, meanwhile, includes the Windows 10 Photos and Videos app.

The memos also shows that the combining of these two groups not only resulted in several job cuts but also the creation of a new group that will now report to Chris Pratley, known for his previous work on the OneNote and Sway team. As a result, Megan Saunders, who previously held a role and help create EDM Studio, is supposedly moving to a yet to be announced internal role at Microsoft.

Another part of the changes includes a reshuffling of “Pentad” and the creation of a Mixed Reality studio with a focus on Mixed Reality in the Modern Workplace. It is not certain what “Pentad” refers to, but Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley believes that “Pentad” is the group currently overseen by Executive Vice President of Artificial Intelligence & Research, Harry Shum. There are five groups under his current control, including  Information Platform, Cortana and Bing, Ambient Computing/Robotics, NEXT, and Shum’s leadership team.

Finally, Microsoft also created several new teams inside of NEXT, which is also a result of the reshuffling of “Pentad.” These changes are rather complex and result in the creation of several new teams:

  • 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.

Again, these are mostly internal changes, and the end user and average consumer will not see any delays in the release of the Windows 10 Redstone 4 update. The new studio and internal changes could likely instead shed light on Redstone 5, which couple possibly align more with Mixed Reality and EDM and Evoke’s new mission.