Microsoft has made its pitch for the 'metaverse' at its annual Ignite conference with the launch of Mesh for Microsoft Teams.
The new service builds on 'Together mode' and 'Presenter view' in Microsoft Teams to make remote and hybrid meetings more immersive, according to the company's corporate vice president Jeff Teper.
It was just one of a number of Teams announcements unveiled at the tech giant's 2021 conference, which also saw the launch of a redesigned Teams store and hardware created specifically for the video conferencing service, such as the Yealink deskVision monitor.
Mesh for Microsoft Teams, which will begin rolling out in 2022, is a mixed reality service that allows people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic environments within Microsoft Teams. This space will allow for virtual meetings, chats, and the sharing of documents and more, according to Microsoft.
The tools used for Mesh are 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," Teper said.
"We've seen that those tools have accomplished both goals of helping a team be more effective and also helping individuals be more engaged."
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Creating more meaningful work experiences for employees
The Mesh announcement follows on from a big shakeup at Facebook, which has rebranded to 'Meta' as part of a new 'metaverse' business shift. The Teams' version is accessible via laptops, smartphones and mixed reality headsets, but like Mark Zuckerberg's proposal, it is also described as a 'new version of the internet'.
Microsoft, however, has been working on its version of the metaverse for 12 years, according to technical fellow Alex Kipman, with the product already used by professional services firm Accenture.
"We started to call it the Nth Floor, this magical, mythical campus that could only be found in virtual reality," said Jason Warnke, senior managing director and global digital experiences lead for Accenture.
Warnke added that his favourite feature was the ability to bump into colleagues from around the world and have deep and meaningful conversations.
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Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.
Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognise him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.