Evolution of Mixed Reality Continues as Microsoft Combines Teams, Re-orgs NEXT

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Earlier this week, Microsoft made a few cuts across several different orgs and while the company typically doesn’t share details about these changes, insiders at the company have been able to shine a little bit of light on what is happening.

For fans of inside baseball at Microsoft, this is about as close to the chest as it can get thanks to documents I was able to view regarding the deck chairs being moved about. Some of the changes this week impact those who work on mixed reality applications as well as apps for Windows 10. This is not intended to be a breakdown of every change made at Microsoft this week as that’s a full-time job but this is a look inside the NEXT org and some of the updates happening under Kudo Tsunoda’s umbrella.

Microsoft is combining its EDM and Evoke Studios. If those names don’t sound familiar, EDM stands for Everyday Magic which includes Paint 3D, Remix3D, Mixed Reality Viewer, MR/VR/AR app development and Evoke was responsible for Photos and Videos app. Inevitably, this resulted in some employees being cut which happened earlier this week.

This new group is reporting to Chris Pratley and for those who are curious about what is happening to Megan Saunders, she is moving internally at Microsoft to a role that has yet to be announced. Previously, she helped create Skype for HoloLens, the creation of EDM Studio as well as the 3D for Everyone initiative.

Also noted in the internal memo is that Microsoft has re-orged the Pentad. While I don’t exactly know what this is referring to, it’s somehow related to Windows Next but haven’t fully cracked this nut as of yet – thanks to Mary Jo for helping to decipher what this may mean. Or, it could possibly be part of five organizational priorities too as these are called out later in the document; Microsoft short-hand is a fun lesson in trying to understand words that form sentences that don’t make a lot of sense.

As part of the changes, there was the creation of the Mixed Reality studio that moved many team-members out of the Pentad to focus on Mixed Reality in the Modern Workplace.

There are several new teams inside of Microsoft as part of NEXT (a result of the Pentad re-org) to help push the company forward. I’ve broken out each of the sections:

  • 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.

With the re-org of NEXT and the consolidation of mixed reality studios, there is no impact expected on the release of Redstone 4; Microsoft is in the final phases of releasing that update for Windows 10 which is expected in March. Redstone 5, which will arrive in the fall, it is expected that the combination of EDM and Envoke will have a deeper alignment to the overall mission of the org and contribute to the direction of the team with that release of Windows.

For those that keep track of Microsoft’s changes in organizational structure, this should provide some finer details about how the org will now operate. As for day to day impact, the end user will not notice anything different but the deck chairs have been moved, once again.