AltspaceVR, the social VR platform that Microsoft acquired in 2017, is undergoing some major changes in the name of safety. Open public areas hosted by AltspaceVR are being eliminated, existing safety bubbles and mute options are becoming defaults, and users will soon need to sign in with a Microsoft account.
Announced in a blog post by Microsoft’s HoloLens and mixed reality leader Alex Kipman, some of these updates are arguably overdue. But getting rid of public spaces, in particular, is a drastic move. It demonstrates that no tech giant has quite figured out how to create safe, welcoming spaces for potential millions or billions of users in VR—something that will become even more necessary as we move towards anything resembling a metaverse-centric future.