|Industry 9 just announced a license agreement with Shimano for Micro Spline freehubs.|
Shimano has introduced a new XTR in 2018, and if you recall, one of the major changes was to the free hub body which hasn't changed for Shimano since the late 80's, not in any significant way at least. However; with the advent of 12 speed drive trains and 1X systems which require a smaller cog to achieve a reasonable high end gear, Shimano has trotted out Micro Spline.
Now, you can think Shimano has done this in answer to SRAM all you want to, but you'd probably be wrong. Shimano generally has ideas, which we know nothing about, in the can for years, tests them for several more years, and then.......maybe, they release them to the public. Want an example? Okay. In 2007 or 2008, I went to a Trek/Fisher mtb press camp. Gary Fisher gave me a bike to ride there, which wasn't part of the goings on. It was a city bike with a Syncro-Shift drive train. You might know that Synco-Shift wasn't released to the public until a few years ago. So, that's just one example of how Shimano works. Shimano has likely been working on this Micro Spline idea for years.
But this is about a different component standard, and with this new announcement from Industry 9, who will offer Micro Spline hubs later this year, you can bet other companies are going to line up to get on board with this standard as well. In effect, you are looking at what will eventually make the wheels you are using now obsolete. Well, at least the rear wheel.
That may not be entirely true, but with hub standards changing in width as well as the free hub standard, you very well may end up getting new wheels. That said, some hubs, like DT Swiss, are backward compatible with a free hub swap. But in the end, the HG 13 spline free hub you take for granted today will be like the old screw on free wheel hubs of yesterday. The HG free hub won't go away, but it will end up relegated to the cheapest of wheels eventually.
For a good article on the "why" of this technology, see Josh Patterson's article here.