Why Microsoft is pouring cold water on the Metaverse

In the 21 minutes of the speech, Microsoft CEO Satya mentioned the metaverse and Microsoft is building a platform layer that combines the digital world with the real world. Obviously, for the Microsoft metaverse topic that the industry is very concerned about, Satya Ya put it at the end of the speech. At the Microsoft IgniteChina event held two days ago, Satya said: “What we show today is just the beginning, now the new platform and new applications of the Metaverse are the same as what we did in the 1990s. When you first talk about the web and websites, it’s the same.”

As one of the world’s most valuable companies, Microsoft’s every move is often a bellwether. In terms of attitude towards the Metaverse, Microsoft’s operation is puzzling: on the one hand, it is a high-profile platform for the Metaverse, and on the other hand, it pours cold water on the “fever” Metaverse. At the end of last year, Microsoft announced the Metaverse strategy with a high profile at its Ignite global conference, and the industry’s enthusiasm for the Metaverse has been added to the heat. But then Microsoft executives made some comments about the metaverse on many occasions, showing a trend of “splashing cold water”

Kang Rong, Vice President and General Manager of Marketing and Operations of Microsoft Greater China, said: “Now, the concept of the Metaverse is really popular. Frankly speaking, the Metaverse is still very early, and it is still unknown in which direction it will go.”

Metaverse Today, Internet 30 Years Ago

It should be said that among the IT giants in the industry, Microsoft is the most qualified company to talk about the Metaverse. Because in the key technologies and early applications of the Metaverse, including game xBOX, VR device Hololens, social collaboration platform Teams, virtual reality cloud Mesh, AI, etc., Microsoft has it. Since the announcement of the Metaverse Strategy, Microsoft’s progress on the Metaverse in the past few months has been obvious to all.

Why Microsoft is pouring cold water on the Metaverse

At the Ignite China Station Conference, Microsoft announced several new features around the Metaverse, including Mesh for Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365Connected Spaces, showing many details of the Metaverse in the office environment; also in the past two days, Microsoft Announced cooperation with Qualcomm to jointly develop customized AR chips to create a new generation of energy-efficient, lightweight AR glasses, and plans to integrate Microsoft Mesh applications and software such as the Snapdragon Spaces XR developer platform. The meaning of the former is to allow users to experience more Metaverse applications, while the latter will directly bring about miniaturization and light-weight on the device side, and accelerate the development of the entire development ecosystem.

Since Microsoft moves frequently, why should it release calm and rational information to the industry?

Kang Rong said that although the Metaverse is a brand-new medium and a brand-new application, its development is the accumulation and evolution of many years of technology, just like Microsoft’s VR device Hololens was launched six years ago, but its related technology is Microsoft Research Institute. Basic research has been done more than ten years ago, from cloud to big data to AIoT, etc. These are all related technologies that the Metaverse needs.

In fact, today’s bustling metaverse in the capital world is just getting started. Kang Rong said that what we can achieve on the Internet today was unimaginable in the 1990s. “The metaverse technologies and applications we feel today are the same as websites and the web 30 years ago.”

Why pour cold water? If the metaverse is not calmly advanced, the development of this industry may also burst like the Internet bubble experienced by the Internet industry more than 20 years ago, and a large number of Internet gold rush companies in Silicon Valley will go bankrupt. “The development of the metaverse industry, like many industries, will not be a straight up. It is very hot right now, and after a while, everyone may be disappointed and doubt. When there is no sense, the metaverse era may really come.” Kang Rong said.

The metaverse research report by Everbright Securities analysts Fu Tianzi and Liu Kai gave the same judgment as Kang Rong: the change of the times is often achieved by multiple inventions and contributions, and it needs continuous iteration and self-driving to achieve a positive cycle. Referring to the two waves of the electric revolution era, the Metaverse is already in the early stage of the first wave of technological change, and is still far from the second wave of industrial change. The development of the metaverse will go through three stages of development: technological change, industrial change, and final form. The first stage of technological transformation is mainly based on the gradual rollout of consumer-grade VR/AR hardware within 3-5 years. The prototype products in this stage are mainly in the form of pan-entertainment of social + light games.

According to Deloitte’s research and analysis, starting from 2031 at the earliest, the metaverse of independent industries can gradually open up data and standards, and achieve a mature integration stage of similar integration. There is still a long way to go to truly enter the stage where, as Satya describes it, “the world will usher in a structural change, and we can take our humanity to choose how we want to experience the world, and who we want to interact with.” Way to go.

Three Big Problems Affecting the Metaverse

The development of the Metaverse industry will certainly follow the law that demand, technology, and products are mutually propelling and spiraling upward. In this process, finding problems is also critical to solving them. Wei Qing, chief technology officer of Microsoft (China), previously said: “If we can ask the question properly, we can try to find the answer.”

Regarding the main challenges of the metaverse, Kang Rong believes that it mainly focuses on three dimensions. First, the innovation of basic technologies still has a long way to go. There are still many breakthroughs in the technologies that combine the physical world with the digital virtual world. Second, the business model and business model are still unclear and require a long period of exploration. The third is to ensure that metaverse technology positively empowers economic and social development and brings people a good experience, and the basic rules need to be customized.

From the perspective of basic technology, although the capital world is currently enthusiastic about the metaverse, in fact, the core key technologies have not yet been formed, and it will take several years or even longer to breed.

Yuan Yu, an analyst at CCID Consulting’s Electronic Information Industry Research Center, believes that the Metaverse is the superposition and upgrade of multiple technologies. At present, there is no underlying core technology of the Metaverse in the true sense. Currently, virtual reality, communication, and interactive technologies have been disclosed. The results are not directly related to the Metaverse. The deep-seated reason is that the Metaverse with high immersion, efficient social interaction, economic attributes, and self-creation requires a variety of technologies, and it needs to develop from stand-alone intelligence to integrated intelligence to realize user-side intelligence. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to subvert the existing standard protocols, product forms, market formats, etc.

Industry veterans believe that technologies such as holographic projection and brain-computer interface interaction that provide technical support for the Metaverse to achieve high simulation and immersion are still in the early stages of development and require at least decades of precipitation and development. “And the network that the Metaverse needs is at least 6G, and the computing power is infinite. It will take ten years for the arrival of the 6G network, and it will take ten years for the quantum computing to bring about a leap in computing power. It takes years to enter the stage of development to the ultimate form.” The person believes.

If the Metaverse is the next-generation Internet, then with reference to the changes in the Internet and the mobile Internet, the evolution of interactive technology and operating systems plays a crucial role, and the current mainstream operating system of the representative terminal XR in the Metaverse does not It appears that because of this, the XR operating system battle is extremely lively. In the past few days, Meta Company has been busy refuting rumors and affirming, just because there is news in the market that the virtual reality operating system project team that Meta Company has planned for a long time and invested heavily in research and development will be disbanded and closed, so that Meta Vice President Gabriel Aul personally “refute the rumor”: “We’re serious about and still developing a highly specialized operating system for these devices, and we’re growing the team, not shrinking it.”

From the perspective of business models, with the arrival of each new technology era, a new business model and production model supported by this technology will be established, and the transformation from technology to industry will truly be realized. However, the current mainstream business model of the Metaverse does not show clues.

Kang Rong believes that the business model of the Metaverse still needs to be explored. For example, in the early days of blockchain technology, some people thought that bitcoin and digital currency were its application directions, some people thought that commercial contracts and contracts were its typical application scenarios, and some people thought that supply chain and commodity traceability were application forms, but in fact it The real business model has not come out.”The reason why the business model is important is because of technological breakthroughs, it is often necessary to know the business model and application direction before knowing which direction to develop.”

Yuan Yu used the demonstration of typical enterprise-level applications and the lack of consumer-level “killer” applications to describe the unclear business model of the Metaverse. “The Metaverse emphasizes the mutual mapping between the real world and the virtual world. The authenticity of the reflection of production and life depends on the popularization of virtual reality applications and the improvement of user acceptance. At present, virtual reality still lacks typical demonstration application scenarios and has no popularity. With higher ‘killer’ applications, it is difficult to find more suitable scenarios when the concept of the metaverse is implemented.”

What exactly is a typical metaverse business scenario, is it games and social networking on the C-side, or connection production and virtualization on the B-side? Some experts believe that these may also be early sporadic applications. Only when the industry really uses the metaverse to create a new production model, which brings a huge leap in production efficiency, the metaverse economic system based on this can be established.

To this end, Yuan Yu and Kang Rong both talked about the industrial metaverse and the manufacturing metaverse, such as promoting process simulation collaborative research and development, industrial machine vision, and immersive skills training in key links such as R&D, assembly, and testing where manufacturing costs are high. and other new production methods; there are also “education metaverse” and “medical metaverse”, the former can create a better immersive teaching environment in preschool education, vocational education, and adult education, while the latter can be used in rehabilitation training, psychological counseling, vision The recovery and other aspects have brought a huge improvement.

From the perspective of norms and rules, the metaverse, as a combination of the digital world and the real world, will have a huge impact on human beings and society in the future, and the basic rules of the metaverse must be established.Although the metaverse development is still in its early days, the ethics and norms within it must now be considered simultaneously, just like the six principles of robotics.

“30 years ago, everyone naively believed that the Internet was very good, but they never thought that the Internet would also bring negative effects, false information and public opinion manipulation. In fact, the development of any technology needs to ensure that it avoids its harm and brings positive Energy. The Metaverse will have a huge impact on human beings and society in the future, and relevant rules and ethics must be customized. Fortunately, we have 30 years of experience in developing the Internet to refer to, and we can take precautions in advance.” Kang Rong said.

Some experts said that the metaverse is a world parallel to the real world, a combination of the digital world and the real world. It needs to transcend and reproduce the real world. It needs to establish a metaverse social operation logic and metaverse similar to the real world. cosmic rules.

Yuan Yu believes that Metaverse real-name authentication and minor protection mechanisms should be clarified, and policies such as Metaverse content copyright protection, virtual economic income taxation, and personal privacy and security norms should be researched and introduced to ensure an orderly and healthy virtual world.

Whether it is technology or business, the Metaverse is on the eve of development. Now may be the time for capital to hype, but as an industry practitioner, you need to look at the technological evolution and business exploration in it rationally. Perhaps because of this, Microsoft put the metaverse at the end of its Ignite China conference, because for Microsoft, hybrid office, artificial intelligence, hyper-connected business, and promotion of digital innovation are the core of business. As a platform manufacturer, Microsoft’s business needs to rely on the upstream and downstream ecology, and together “the tide is rising”. If the water in the Metaverse is not a real “water rises when it is full”, but just a “bubble”, then Microsoft’s ship will sink sooner or later. This may be Microsoft’s high-profile exploration direction for the evolution of the Metaverse, and hope that the entire industry will The real reason for chain rational regression. Regarding the metaverse, it’s time to get back to rationality.

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