Lead developer, Alex Kipman, who oversaw the teams that built the Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset and the Kinect motion controller for Xbox and served as one of the company’s top technical fellows, has resigned, according to Insider, following complaints of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.
At Xbox, he supervised the purchase of technology for the Xbox Kinect from PrimeSense, an Israeli firm. The product was completed two years later. His expertise as a lead developer at Microsoft has contributed to the issuance of over a hundred patents for technologies like the Hololens and Xbox Kinect.
Microsoft has yet to confirm or refute the allegation. However, GeekWire has already verified it by getting an internal email from Microsoft cloud chief Scott Guthrie. Guthrie says, “We have mutually determined that now is the appropriate moment for him to depart the firm to seek other options.”
The letter, available at GeekWire, makes no mention of the charges and states that Kipman will remain on for another two months to assist with the transition. Kipman’s whole mixed reality business has been reorganised, with the hardware teams joining Panos Panay’s Windows + Devices org.
Did lead developer, Kipman, allegedly misbehave previously too?
Over 25 Microsoft employees, according to Insider’s sources, participated in an internal complaint regarding Kipman’s alleged wrongdoing. This included incidents of unwanted touching & one time when he reportedly watched an obscene VR film in front of coworkers.
This follows a May 25th Insider report in which hundreds of employees alerted the publication about Kipman’s alleged actions. Insider spoke with three employees who said they’d been advised not to let ladies alone around Kipman. When Insider contacted Microsoft at the time, the company refused to confirm or reject specific complaints of sexual misconduct against women.
“Don’t believe what you read on the internet,” Kipman said in February in response to an earlier Insider report. He also stated HoloLens division being a disaster & that a HoloLens 3 could have been shelved. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that more than 70 Microsoft staffers on the HoloLens project had departed the firm in 2021, with more than 40 of them joining Meta.
Microsoft was hoping for a significant win for HoloLens
Microsoft was hoping for a significant win for HoloLens with the US Army. The US Army had ordered up to 120,000 IVAS headsets for soldiers. The purchase would be worth $21.88 billion to the corporation over ten years. But the Army has put it on hold, and a Pentagon audit wasn’t too enthusiastic about it.
“Procuring IVAS without achieving user acceptability might result in the waste of up to $21.88 billion in taxpayer monies to field a system that Soldiers may not want to use or operate as intended,” according to a study from the Department of Defense’s Inspector General released in April 2022. (pdf). However, according to Guthrie’s report, the Army approved an operational test last month.