Panos Panay will now oversee virtual and mixed realities at Microsoft. The head of the Windows and Devices division recovers the Mixed Reality branch after the resignation of Alex Kipman … who was also in charge of Hololens and its military variant.
Panos Panay, Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer of Microsoft, sees his importance grow a little more in the organization chart of the Redmond giant. Personality well known to fans of hardware signed Microsoft, the boss of the division Windows and Devices of the group has notably made itself known to the general public as a figurehead of the Surface branch.
He will now oversee an additional division: that corresponding to mixed reality, which also includes the development of the HoloLens headset and its military variant, the IVAS project (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) based on the HoloLens 2.
Towards a holier work environment for Microsoft’s AR / VR teams?
This reorganization comes after the departure of Alex Kipman, former head of the Mixed Reality branch and HoloLens. After 21 years at Microsoft (he had notably led Microsoft’s efforts on the Kinect file, within the Xbox division), the person concerned resigned this week on the background of inappropriate, even downright abusive, behavior with his subordinates. 25 employees are said to have filed internal complaints, over the years, against Alex Kipman, accused, among other things, of having watched pornographic content in VR in front of employees, and of minimizing the work of female staff.
“Over the past few months, Alex Kipman and I have discussed the future of the team. We mutually decided that it was the right time for him to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.“, commented Scott Guthrie, head of the Cloud and AI division at Microsoft, in an internal email unearthed by GeekWire. Scott Guthrie goes on to say that Kipman will stay at Microsoft for an additional two months to organize the transition, before “looking for the next step in your journey“, we read further.
Note however that at this stage, Microsoft has not commented on this departure. It turns out, however, that the firm usually makes organizational changes in early July, for the start of its new fiscal year, notes Windows Central. The firm may wait for this time slot to publicly announce the resignation of Alex Kipman.
Anyway, and if its HoloLens 3 project seems to have been nipped in the bud, Microsoft continues to exploit its augmented reality technologies under military contract. In his email, Scott Guthrie explains that the IVAS project was “officially approved by the US Army to enter an operational test phase“.
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