Microsoft Announces Mesh Platform Preview, Teams Updates

Microsoft Mesh, the company's mixed reality communication and collaboration platform, will be hitting private preview this week.

The company announced Microsoft Mesh preview during this week's Build 2023 developer conference. Mesh provides developers and creators with the core functionality to build custom environments that enhance collaboration among hybrid workforces.

"With Mesh providing this foundation, developers and creators are freed up to add differentiated value, content, interactivity and magic to custom spaces using a set of tools that integrate with Unity," wrote Microsoft in a blog post.

Microsoft said that developers can create or port 3D environments, add interactivity using cloud scripting, integrate interactive content and leverage physics tools for custom interactions. The platform will also offer advanced event management capabilities, allowing the production of immersive experiences for large-scale events and virtual conferences.

Microsoft said that its own metaverse-related experiences created in Mesh will be making its way to other services.

"Mesh powers immersive experiences that we are integrating into Microsoft Teams, helping employees form personal connections where work happens," wrote Microsoft. "We are not only building experiences to help people foster connections in Microsoft Teams --we are also offering developers and creators a whole new opportunity to build custom experiences that help bring people together within an organization."

Avatars for Microsoft Teams will start rolling out this week for Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3, Microsoft 365 Enterprise E5, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, Teams Premium customers. The company touts the avatars as a way for users to avoid "video fatigue," while still being able to keep a presence in virtual meetings through a customizable digital avatar.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1. Avatars in Microsoft Teams.

IT managing Teams will need to activate the policy on their end for specific users. Instructions on how organizations can start using the new feature can be found here.

In addition to Avatars, Microsoft is introducing immersive spaces for Microsoft Teams, which enable participants to engage in virtual environments that replicate in-person interactions. Through spatial audio, users can experience sound as they would in a physical setting. Immersive spaces for Teams are accessible through PC or mixed reality headsets. The new feature is currently available to Teams Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customers in private preview.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 2. New virtual spaces for Teams.

This week's Mesh news comes as the company's efforts in the space were thrown into question after the dismantling of its industrial metaverse team in February and last year's delayed preview release of Microsoft Mesh, which was initially scheduled for March 2022.

This week's announcements show that Microsoft is still dedicating resources to its metaverse technology, in spite of much of its focus shifting to the AI space.

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.


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