Microsoft forays into the metaverse

Following Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook will be changing its name to Meta, Microsoft set out its own plans around using 3D avatars and immersive virtual environments for meetings.

The move stems from “meeting fatigue” according to Nicole Herskowitz, Microsoft Teams general manager, who notes that it is “very hard to stay engaged and focused” for more than 30 or 40 minutes during a meeting.

Microsoft is bringing forward a platform for virtual experiences called Mesh, which will be a part of Microsoft Teams as of next year.

Mesh builds upon the work Microsoft has already done incorporating mixed reality to its meetings and video calls.

“The feature combines the mixed-reality capabilities of Microsoft Mesh, which allows people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences, with the productivity tools of Microsoft Teams, where people can join virtual meetings, send chats, collaborate on shared documents and more,” a statement by Microsoft read.

These tools are all ways “to signal we’re in the same virtual space, we’re one team, we’re one group, and help take the formality down a peg and the engagement up a peg,” said Josh Teper, Microsoft corporate vice president.

“We’ve seen that those tools have accomplished both goals of helping a team be more effective and also helping individuals be more engaged,” Teper added.

The move comes shortly after Facebook’s rebrand to Meta, a name that Zuck says better describes the purpose of his company.“All of our products, including our apps, now share a new vision: to help bring the metaverse to life. And now we have a name that reflects the breadth of what we do,” Zuckerberg said.

It’s not only Facebook and Microsoft that have made announcements around the Metaverse. They are joined by Nike, Tencent and Epic Games among others.

For those unfamiliar with the metaverse, it is an evolving virtual universe where users can interact with one another as digital avatars. The virtual environments could include socialising, gaming or work.

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