Hololens 2015Source: AP (2015)

Another week, another bout of metaverse news and discussion. This time around, we have the (reportedly) sorry state of Microsoft's big AR deal with the U.S. Army. The company fully expects the Pentagon to be disappointed with its deliverables, and some suspect that what the U.S. Army wants is just too far removed from what current technology and, by extension, Microsoft, can provide. After all, can tech that barely works in ideal living-room-esque conditions actually translate to the harsh environments soldiers spend time in? Are we there yet?

That's the question hanging over the entirety of the metaverse. Be it soldiers on the frontlines with specialized HoloLens units or consumers playing Synth Riders with a Windows Mixed Reality headset in their bedrooms, there are a lot of asterisks and caveats to modern-day AR, VR, mixed reality, and metaverse-linked experiences. Tons of hardware limitations, not a lot of support, and other pitfalls have trapped this new dimension of virtual experiences in a tiny corner of tech talk that makes the current "metaverse" chatter seem overblown and disproportionate to reality. Unless, of course, you don't define the "metaverse" as a Ready Player One fantasy come true, kind of like what Meta is positioning it to be.

Do you view the metaverse as a ways off from becoming a reality, or do you define it like Microsoft does, wherein it's just a vaguely interconnected network of software that allows you to interact virtually with others? By Microsoft's definition, we're already in the metaverse.

There is always the third option, of course. The one nestled between the extremes of "yes, we're already in the metaverse" and "no, the metaverse isn't here yet." That option is to reject "the metaverse" entirely and brand it an ill-defined term spawned from the depths of PR buzzword hell.