Watch AltspaceVR’s Final Moment As Worlds Go Offline

Microsoft’s AltspaceVR went offline on March 10 as users were ripped from their worlds.

You can watch the moment below and see what it was like as Microsoft pulled the plug to shut down the Altspace servers.

Microsoft bought the social VR startup in 2017 after it ran out of money, but the service found a small niche with some creators using its tools for meeting and presentation spaces. Austin “Cause” Caine and Christi Fenison, the duo behind a company called Cause & Christi, have used AltspaceVR for client projects over the years and found it “to be the most ‘professional’ out of the current choices.” The were present for the final moments of AltspaceVR and conveyed the experience in writing and video:

The servers were set to shut down at exactly 1pm ET so we gathered and waited to see exactly what would happen. As the final moment approached, the anticipation grew… and the countdown began. 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… 0… -1… -2… -3… wait a minute… we were all still here? News began to spread that new users could no longer log on. We were essentially the last survivors of a sinking ship, the band that played valiantly until the very end.

For just over five minutes we all reveled in this realization, wondering exactly when the true ending would come, and did our best to enjoy these extra precious moments together. Around 1:07pm ET everyone’s conversations were abruptly cut short as the world froze around us in a Matrix-like fashion. Reports later indicate this was the same experience for everyone. Not long after an official message from the AltspaceVR team popped up, and that was that.

Altspace’s closure was announced in January as executives implemented a wave of cost cutting measures at a number of tech companies. In advance of the shutdown, Microsoft enabled metadata downloads from Altspace worlds but didn’t enable full world downloads.

The closure note reads:

“This is sadly where we say goodbye. We leave you with one wish: take the light we’ve made together and share it with the world.”

Microsoft is Shutting Down Pioneering Social VR Platform ‘AltspaceVR’ Tomorrow

Once the focus of a fateful redemption story, Microsoft is getting set to shut down its adoptive VR app AltspaceVR, finally putting an end to one of the earliest social VR platforms. 

Update (March 9th, 2023): Launched in May 2015, AltspaceVR is officially headed for the long sleep tomorrow, March 10th.

If you’re looking to bid AltspaceVR goodbye, there’s actually a ton of events going on right now, which will take users all the way up to when server shutdown tomorrow. It’s uncertain exactly when servers are set to switch off, however Microsoft suggests downloading all relevant data “before” March 10th.

The original article announcing the planned shutdown of AltspaceVR and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Toolkit follows below:

Original Article (January 23rd, 2023): We’ve written about the death of AltspaceVR once before. In the summer of 2017, the company announced it was shuttering the social VR platform due to lack of funds. In a Hail Mary that few expected, Microsoft turned around and snapped up the ailing platform only two months after the planned shut-down date. It seemed, at least for then, that AltspaceVR would live on to compete in the rapidly diversifying social VR landscape, existing alongside VR Chat, Rec Room, and Horizon Worlds.

Microsoft says it’s shutting down AltspaceVR on March 10th, 2023, and shifting its focus “to support immersive experiences powered by Microsoft Mesh,” the company says in a statement.

Mesh is the company’s software foundation for building multi-user XR applications. Announced in 2021, the tool gives developers a framework for connecting users into shared instances which support spatial voice communication, cloud-based asset management, persistent scenes, and a common avatar system.

“The decision has not been an easy one as this is a platform many have come to love, providing a place for people to explore their identities, express themselves, and find community,” the AltspaceVR team writes. “It has been a privilege to help unlock passions among users, from educational opportunities for personal growth to the development of unique and wonderful events, groundbreaking art, and immersive experiences — enabling this community to achieve more. With Mesh, we aspire to build a platform that offers the widest opportunity to all involved, including creators, partners and customers.”

Also seeing an abrupt shutdown is the company’s Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK). Team member Finn Sinclair shared the news via Twitter on Friday, saying the entire team was eliminated from the company. MRTK was a Microsoft-driven project that provided a set of components and features, used to accelerate cross-platform XR app development in the Unity game engine. Sinclair says the project is remaining open source.

Microsoft’s most recent round of layoffs are said to affect around 5% of its overall workforce. In a letter to employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella notes “changes to our hardware portfolio”; reports from Bloomberg maintain the company’s Xbox games teams are also affected, including Bethesda Game Studios (‘The Elder Scrolls’ series) and 343 Industries (Halo).

Microsoft Deletes AltspaceVR Public Hubs, Safety Bubbles & Muting Now Default

Almost half a decade after Microsoft acquired the social VR platform Altspace the company instituted some major changes this week aimed at making it a “safer space”.

AltspaceVR ran out of funds as an independent startup in 2017 but found a new lease on life in the metaverse with an acquisition from Microsoft that year. Since then, the platform has iterated as a kind of social VR testing ground for Microsoft with new avatars and other changes. Most of those changes pale in comparison to the “guardrails” put in place by the tech giant this week, with the platform now requiring a Microsoft Account and deleting public social hubs hosted by AltspaceVR itself. In addition, Microsoft also made default an existing “Safety Bubble” feature, echoing a similar move Meta announced earlier this month with its Horizon services.

altspace vr new avatars

“Everyone should always feel safe in experiences like AltspaceVR, experiences that will make the metaverse a reality,” wrote Microsoft’s Alex Kipman in a blog post. “We have a responsibility to establish guardrails and we look forward to sharing more as we continue this journey with you.”

New attendees joining events in AltspaceVR will be automatically muted as well.

The moves come as the world’s largest platform companies race to align efforts in VR and consumer hardware with broader approaches to privacy and profit. While startups like VRChat and Rec Room see ever-larger sums invested to remain competitive, existing tech giants like Meta and Microsoft realign their divisions, policies and priorities as VR develops into a multi-billion dollar business and the likeliest path to mainstream consumer AR.

How to Watch the 2021 VR Awards

VR Awards 2021

It’s almost time for the fifth annual VR Awards which is holding its event virtually for the second year in a row. Catering to as wide an audience as possible, the VR Awards 2021 will be available in virtual reality (VR) via AltspaceVR as well as streamed online across Youtube, Facebook, and Twitch.

VR Awards 2019

For those that want to enjoy the full immersive spectacle, you’ll need to download AltspaceVR (which is free) as well as booking a free ticket via the VR Awards website. Organised by The Academy of International Extended Reality (AIXR), the awards show begins at 6:30 pm GMT/10:30 am PST, with a virtual drinks reception followed by a “5th Anniversary World Hop.” The main event takes place at 7:30 pm GMT / 11:30 am PST followed by a virtual after party.

You may want to watch the pre-panel live stream from 5:30 pm GMT because there’s a chance to win an Oculus Quest 2. Simply watch the show and note down how many VR Awards posters appear during the stream and at what time they appear. Submit your answer here and you’ll be entered into the raffle to win the standalone headset.

The show will be announcing winners from across 12 categories, from the highly coveted VR Game of the Year to awards for film, educational app, healthcare and enterprise solution of the year. The AIXR also confirmed earlier today that Tom Furness will be given the Accenture Lifetime Achievement Award. With a career spanning over 50 years, Furness is known for developing the first VR systems for the US Air Force and founding the ‘Virtual World Society’ to help families access VR learning facilities.

VR Awards 2019 image

In response to the Accenture Lifetime Achievement Award, Furness said: “For me, this clearly underscores the current – and continuing – emergence of virtual experiences that introduce us to worlds of wonder! I am more excited now than ever before about the future and how this unprecedented technology will further connect humanity. And this is just the beginning…and I am a kid again!”

AltspaceVR supports most major VR headsets including Oculus Quest and Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality. Or you can watch the live stream below. For continued updates from AIXR, keep reading VRFocus.

VR Awards Take Place Next Week, Tickets and Event Info Inside

VR Awards 2019 image

The annual VR Awards organised by the Academy of International Extended Reality (AIXR) has become one of the most prestigious on the calendar with the fifth edition due to take place next week. Due to the success of the virtual awards held in 2020 due to the pandemic, AIXR will once again be hosting the VR Awards online for everyone to attend worldwide. VRFocus has all the details of how to visit and enjoy this innovative event.

VR Awards 2019

The VR Awards 2021 is comprised of 12 categories covering the breadth of the XR industry, with all the winners selected by an expert panel of industry judges. All apart from the VR Game of the Year and VR Social Influencer of the Year which was open to public voting during September.

If you love a good awards show then the easiest way to enjoy the event next Thursday is via AltspaceVR. AIXR teamed up with the VR platform to create a whole new showcase that is entirely free to attend but you do need to book. Simply head to the VR Awards ticket section and choose the consumer option to attend the live ceremony, viewable via compatible VR headsets like Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive and Valve Index. You’ll need an AltspaceVR account, of course, with the app freely available to download from Steam or the Oculus store.

Or for those who like the more personal, in-person approach tickets are still available for the event with prices starting from £79 GBP per person. More beneficial for those within the XR industry, it’ll be a chance for attendees to network and actually chat face to face, a rare situation only a few months ago.

VR Awards 2021

“Last year brought about an extraordinary virtual celebration of the advances made in virtual reality across what was a highly unusual twelve months. Despite the constraints that COVID-19 presented, it is evident that innovation and progress in delivering virtual reality to all has not been hindered and we are looking forward to continuing to produce another ground-breaking award show to elevate VR experiences as the new normal,” said Daniel Colaianni, Chief Executive of AIXR in a statement.

VR Awards Finalists

VR Healthcare of the Year

  • BroadAR – Smell Revived
  • Health Scholars – Saving Kid’s Lives: VR Training for Pediatric Emergencies
  • Khora – The Challenge Project
  • Make Real Ltd – Make Real & NHS Blood Transplant – Aseptic Technique VR
  • Osso VR – Osso VR – Cinematic VR Surgical Training Platform]
  • SimX, Inc. – Elsevier Simulation Learning System (SLS) VR Curriculum
  • Tandem Marketing Communications – See again! – FundamentalVR partnership with Novartis, delivering groundbreaking Ocular Gene Therapy VR Simulation
  • Untold Games – Daily- act software: VR serious game for the evaluation and rehabilitation of the neuropsychological patients

VR Education and Training of the Year

  • Breakpoint One GmbH – VR Plant Journey
  • Haggai Goldfarb Consulting – Project Origami: “The Magic of Flight”
  • Make Real Ltd – Make Real & Severn Trent – Coaching VR
  • NORCAT – Vale VR
  • Orka – DHL Reach Truck Simulator
  • StudioCOIN – Forum VR-Artists of OZ
  • Techno Brave Asia Ltd. & Eminent Air (Thailand) Co., Ltd. – Virtual Air Condition Installation
  • VR Inn – Virtual Reality training for container glass manufacturers

VR Enterprise Solution of the Year

  • Arthur – Arthur
  • Entropia sdn. Bhd – TM One XR City: Immersive Opportunities
  • Light&Shadows – Stipple
  • Make Real Ltd – Skill Shield – Make Real and Keltbray
  • Masters of Pie – Hyperbat – World’s First VR Design Review over 5G
  • Orka – Virtual Shipyard – Strathclyde University Department of NAOME
  • Spinview – Alveso Train Depot

VR Social Impact Award

  • Accenture – AVEnueS – Race Equity in Child Welfare
  • Gain Productions Inc. – MINDFUL VR
  • Geometry Ogilvy Japan – Shibuya Virtual Halloween
  • GRX Immersive Labs – POV: Points of View
  • Rendever – RendeverLive™
  • Sentireal Ltd – SiteIT
  • Sunshine Sachs – Suicide Prevention (Ready VR)

Rising VR Company of the Year

  • Emperia
  • EVOKE Studios
  • Lost Horizon
  • triple A code GmbH
  • Unlocked Reality

Innovative VR Company of the Year

  • Cleanbox Technology
  • eyeora VR
  • InnerspaceVR
  • Resolution Games
  • Virtualware
  • Yarn Corporation

Out-of-home VR Entertainment of the Year

  • Backlight Studio – Icecube Protocol
  • DIVR Labs – Meet the Dinosaurs
  • Figment Productions Ltd. – Current, Rising
  • INCARNA STUDIOS – Incarna Adventure
  • meetspaceVR – meetspaceVR: We blow minds!
  • Secret Location – Blasters of the Universe: Infinity Forever
  • Secret Location – Paranormal Pest Patrol
  • Ubisoft Düsseldorf – Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time

VR Marketing of the Year

  • Accenture – D-Wave Advantage Showcase
  • Geometry Ogilvy Japan – Shibuya Virtual Halloween
  • HIKKY Co., Ltd. – Virtual Market 5
  • HIKKY Co., Ltd. – VR Boatshow: Toyota Marine World
  • IMMERSIVECAST – Vraum – Car configuration app
  • Renacens Sistemas SL – The Emirates VR Experience

VR Film of the Year

  • 3DAR – Paper Birds
  • Alchemy Immersive – Micro Monsters with David Attenborough
  • Diversion cinema – Strands of mind
  • Idontloveyouanymore – To Miss The Ending
  • Mecal – Symphony
  • National Film Board of Canada – Agence

VR Experience of the Year

  • 4DR Studios – Future Static
  • ATLAS V – Madrid Noir
  • Big Rock Creative – BRCvr
  • Couzin Films & Les Produits Frais – The Passengers
  • Head, Festivals and Audience Development – The Book of Distance
  • Lost Eagle Studios – Getting Lost With Luke In Nature
  • Nowheremedia – Kusunda VR

VR Hardware of the Year

  • Facebook – Oculus Quest 2
  • HP – HP Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition
  • HTC – VIVE Focus 3
  • Pico Interactive Europe SL – Pico Neo 3 Pro
  • Varjo – XR-3
  • Vrgineers – XTAL Mixed Reality Module

VR Game of the Year

  • Archiact – DOOM 3: VR Edition
  • Electronic Arts Inc. – Star Wars: Squadrons
  • ILMxLAB – Star Wars/ Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge
  • Joy Way – STRIDE
  • MyDearest Inc. – ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos
  • MWM Interactive – Maskmaker
  • PotamWorks – Smash Drums
  • Resolution Games – Demeo
  • VR Factory Games Sp. z o.o. – Horror Bar VR
  • Wanadev – Ragnaröck
  • Wevr – Gnomes & Goblins
  • XR Games – Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever

The fifth VR Awards will be held on 18th November 2021 both digitally and in-person. For further updates from AIXR, keep reading VRFocus.

Microsoft’s Social Service AltspaceVR Pilots Mac Version

Microsoft is piloting Mac OS support for its social service AltspaceVR.

The test is “intended to help us better understand the feasibility of expanding AltspaceVR to Mac OS” and you can give it a try right now. Microsoft is careful to note that some features and events aren’t supported on Mac OS, including Microsoft-linked accounts. The page for the app also notes that iPhone and iPad support is not included either.

“Full support for Mac OS is pending investigation and is not guaranteed,” the page notes.

Microsoft acquired AltspaceVR in 2017 after the startup ran out of cash and nearly shuttered. In recent months, Altspace avatars from the cross-platform social service have been shown used with Microsoft’s Mesh service for collaboration in VR and AR.

Both Microsoft and Apple are very interested in AR, but the ambitions at each company toward VR are still unclear. Apple is said to be developing a VR headset with very strong AR capabilities while Microsoft just won a major contract from the U.S. military to develop AR headsets. Microsoft was an early supporter of the Windows Mixed Reality platform on PCs and more recent efforts support the OpenXR initiative to make it easier for developers to build apps that run on a wide range of devices. Apple, meanwhile, is in transition as it rolls out Apple-designed silicon chips to its Mac computers that bring many of the performance benefits of iPhones and iPads to laptops and desktops. Behind the scenes, the switchover to Apple silicon could have lasting effects on the software development ecosystem.

Microsoft to Talk About the Future of XR in Ignite 2021 Keynote Hosted in ‘AltspaceVR’

Microsoft is looking to make good use of its social VR platform AltspaceVR next week as it hosts its first Ignite keynote in virtual reality.

Alex Kipman, technical fellow at Microsoft’s AI and Mixed Reality team, announced that the virtual event will be taking place in the company’s social VR platform for all to join, either in-headset or via livestream video.

Kipman, who was one of the fundamental drivers behind the creation of HoloLens, says the keynote is slated to be an experience that will offer “more immersion than you’ve ever seen before.”

AltspaceVR has changed quite a bit since the first days of consumer VR, and even more so after Microsoft acquired the ailing social platform in 2017. Since then, AltspaceVR has been refocused as an event platform that hosts user-created meetups of all sorts. AltspaceVR supports SteamVR headsets, Oculus Rift, and Oculus Quest.

We’re not sure what to expect from the keynote, but it’s certainly making good use of VR as a way to bypass the whole social distancing phenomenon which has disrupted all manner of yearly expo and conference. Whatever the case, Microsoft is using the all-digital event to talk about new products, so it may have something VR/AR up its sleeves.

Although you can sign up for all other talks by registering, the VR keynote hasn’t been officially posted yet, however you should find it on the AltspaceVR event page closer to the kickoff of the event, which starts on March 2nd at 8AM PT (local time here). Make sure to check out the full list of events and keynotes for the three-day event here, and signup for special digital access.

Besides the XR-centric keynote, another highlight of Ignite 2021 is invariably a talk from Simon Skaria, director of HoloLens and computer vision at Microsoft, which promises to include info on the company’s vision for the future of mixed reality. We’ll be following along throughout Ignite, so make sure to check back then.

The post Microsoft to Talk About the Future of XR in Ignite 2021 Keynote Hosted in ‘AltspaceVR’ appeared first on Road to VR.

The VR Job Hub: ARVORE, Manus & AltspaceVR

VR Job Hub

Every weekend VRFocus gathers together vacancies from across the virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) industry, in locations around the globe to help make finding that ideal job easier. Below is a selection of roles that are currently accepting applications across a number of disciplines, all within departments and companies that focus on immersive entertainment.

Sao Paulo, BrazilARVOREFinancial Planning & Analysis (Specialist)Click Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVOREHead of Product ManagementClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Game ProducerClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Game DeveloperClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORECreative DirectorClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Visual Artist 2DClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Visual Artist 3DClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Game DesignerClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior AnimatorClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Narrative DesignerClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Graphics DeveloperClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Network DeveloperClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior Facilities AnalystClick Here to Apply
Sao Paulo, BrazilARVORESenior DevOpsClick Here to Apply
Geldrop, The NetherlandsManusSupply Chain ManagerClick Here to Apply
Geldrop, The NetherlandsManusEmbedded/Firmware EngineerClick Here to Apply
Geldrop, The NetherlandsManusUX/UI Designer for Software Interface in UnityClick Here to Apply
Redmond, Washington, USAltspaceVRSoftware EngineerClick Here to Apply

Don’t forget, if there wasn’t anything that took your fancy this week there’s always last week’s listings on The VR Job Hub to check as well.

If you are an employer looking for someone to fill an immersive technology related role – regardless of the industry – don’t forget you can send us the lowdown on the position and we’ll be sure to feature it in that following week’s feature. Details should be sent to Peter Graham (

We’ll see you next week on VRFocus at the usual time of 3PM (UK) for another selection of jobs from around the world.

AltspaceVR Begins Early Access Microsoft Account Integration


Back in 2017 when the virtual reality (VR) industry was still finding its feet, one of the earliest pioneers of immersive social interaction, AltspaceVR was on the verge of shutting down until a last-minute save by Microsoft. Now, the platform has begun an Early Access phase enabling users to login via their Microsoft Accounts.


It was inevitable that this would eventually happen considering AltspaceVR has been a Microsoft platform for just over three years. If you already use products like Minecraft, Xbox Live or Office 365 then it means you can consolidate your login, making use of Microsoft’s privacy and security features.

This will be a phased roll out across three stages over the coming months. Phase one is Early Access only, available to anyone already opted into the Early Access Program. Phase two is optional availability where those using HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Rift-S, Oculus Quest/Quest 2, WMR headsets and on standard desktop PC can integrate their accounts. Phase 3 which is slated for Spring 2021 will see the Microsoft Account login process become the default.

While that last part may rile some users AltspaceVR notes the integration will allow new functionalities and features on the platform. Some of these include:

  • Parental controls, account sharing, wallet-linking, etc.
  • Better account vetting, more robust verification systems, and reliable authentication processes.
  • Helping artists and creators get paid.
  • Features like the web-projector and holoportation.

In a blog post AltspaceVR said: “In many ways, this update is a dream coming true. For AltspaceVR, Microsoft Account integration is a huge leap in the direction of our future– our collective, interconnected, empowered, Mixed Reality future.” So there’s a good chance the platform could expand beyond VR and into mixed reality (MR), an area of great potential which is expected to grow during 2021.

To learn more about how to link your accounts AltspaceVR has prepared a how-to guide. As the platform rolls out the integration as well as those new features mentioned, VRFocus will keep you updated.

‘Magicians In VR’ Event In AltspaceVR Will Feature Talks And Live Magic

A new event in AltspaceVR, called ‘Magicians in VR’, will see prominent figures come together to virtually “educate, entertain and inspire the immersive content creation community with relevant insights about the art of magic.”

The event is set to take place on Wednesday October 7 in Altpsace from 1:00pm PST. The event will discuss how magic can operate in virtual worlds and how the “art of storytelling, understanding audiences, and building relevant and innovative impossibilities” applies to magic in VR.

The aim is to show how digital magic in a virtual world can provide a sense of disbelief just like real world magic, and not just stem from amazement at the technology behind it. The experience will also offer some perspective on the ‘live theater’ aspect of magic, and how this can be applied to VR experiences.

magicians in vr

Four “magic thought leaders” will lead the event, including Adam Cheyer (co-founder of Siri and Viv Labs), Curtis Hickman (CCO and co-founder of The Void), Simon Pierro (a digital magician) and Laura Mingail (event creator and founder of Archetypes & Effects).

Cheyer is a magician himself, and hosts a weekly magic show called “Viv Labs Friday Magic” that has previously featured magic professionals like David Blaine. Likewise, despite co-founding location-based VR company The Void, Hickman is also an award-winning magician and professional illusionist. Each of the four thought-leaders will bring their own perspectives on the intersections of magic, technology and storytelling, plus some live magic will be on display as well.

Those interested in the event can sign-up for the event over on the Altspace website now.

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