Following employee backlash over its work with the US military, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has come forward to defend the company's multimillion dollar contract with the Pentagon to supply it with augmented reality headsets.
"We made a principled decision that we're not going to withhold technology from institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy. We were very transparent about that decision and we'll continue to have that dialogue with employees.”
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Dozens of Microsoft employees publicly criticized the contract last week while calling for the company to end its ties with the US military.
Working with the US military
50 or so Microsoft employees even went so far as to publish a letter demanding that the company pull out of its almost $480m contract to supply the Pentagon with as many as 100,000 HoloLens devices.
The contract, which the company won over competitors such as Magic Leap last November, is part of a project that the Pentagon described as a way of increasing “lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy” by using AR.
Microsoft revealed the second-generation of its HoloLens at this year's MWC though the US military will likely modify the company's headsets so that they can more easily be used by soldiers in the field.
Just as Google's Project Maven faced backlash from employees last year, Microsoft's decision to work with the Pentagon while lucrative has drawn similar criticisms from its employees.