Microsoft Creating Digital Worlds with Mesh for Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is getting some major upgrades and new features, all announced on the opening day of Ignite 2021.
The most notable is Mesh for Microsoft Teams, which aims to create new options for digital meetups with personalized avatars and 3-D environments. "Mesh for Microsoft Teams introduces a new generation of 2D and 3D meeting experiences with personalized avatars and immersive spaces to bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds," said Microsoft in a blog post on Tuesday. "With personalized avatars, you can feel presence in meetings without turning on cameras."
According to the company, users will have more options to join meeting rooms and virtual collaboration spaces using redesigned avatars that will move and react based on your speech without needing a camera or virtual headset. Tuesday's announcement comes just days after Facebook unveiled its similar virtual avatar technology that will be available in its Meta social media platform relaunch.
Microsoft said that users will not only be able to come together in new virtual reality rooms, but will be able to collaborate and share on documents stored in Microsoft 365. Users can join a Mesh room from their PC, smartphone or mixed reality device.
The new feature came about through a multiyear collaboration between Microsoft and mega-partner Accenture, an Ireland-based IT services firm that is known for virtual conference and meeting technologies.
Mesh for Microsoft Teams will begin to roll out in 2022 in preview and will initially launch with a set of prebuilt immersive spaces, with options for organizations to create their own custom spaces to be added as time goes on.
Microsoft Teams Enhancements
Along with the announcement of the forthcoming Mesh for Microsoft Teams, the company unveiled a few dozen new improvements and features currently rolling out to its collaboration and communication platform.
One highlight is the inclusion of a virtual green room to enhance webinars and large meetings. This will allow organizers and guest speakers to interact in a second virtual space to collaborate on presentation content, monitor chat and socialize. Microsoft said this feature will be available in preview in early 2022.
Microsoft is also looking to help IT keep a handle on securing shared documents with a new feature planned for 2022 called Teams Connect. It will allow for Teams channels to be shared with outside individuals and organizations, with IT retaining control on how and what documents can be shared.
Further, Teams Chat is getting upgraded over the coming months. One new enhancement will permit individuals in a Teams organization to use their personal Teams account to chat and collaborate. Another is the ability to chat with yourself, which Microsoft said will be useful for personal organization and keeping memos stored in one place.