Microsoft Ignite: Teams Heads to the Metaverse

Posted on November 2, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365 with 53 Comments

Not willing to be left out of the hype around the metaverse, Microsoft has announced Mesh for Microsoft Teams for a new generation of 2D and 3D virtual meetings.

“As computing becomes embedded in the real world, the real world is being embedded in computing,” Microsoft corporate vice president Jared Spataro explains. “That’s Mesh, the metaverse platform. We’re taking that experience and building Mesh right into Teams, recreating a lot of what we value about being together and extending productivity beyond what was previously possible.”

Mesh provides users with personalized avatars with AI-powered movements and gestures that help bring your physical presence into a meeting when your camera is off. And businesses will be able to create immersive spaces that resemble conference rooms, design centers, networking lounges, and other real-world places “to enhance camaraderie, spark creativity, and foster serendipitous water-cooler connections.,” Microsoft says.

Mesh builds on existing Teams features like Together mode and Presenter view, and it’s designed to make remote and hybrid meetings more collaborative and immersive by signaling to participants that they are together in the same virtual space.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams rolls out in 2022 and will work across PCs, smartphones, and Mixed Reality headsets.

It’s all coming together,” Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman says. “As a company whose focus is on productivity, on knowledge workers, it’s something that customers are really asking us for, and it’s coupled with the vision of mixed reality that we’ve been working on for 12 years.”

Additionally, Microsoft announced several other new Teams features, including new hybrid meeting experiences powered by new partner hardware, shared channel meetings, new webinar and broadcasting capabilities, new third-party apps that integrate with Teams (including Atlassian Jira Cloud, SAP, and ServiceNow), and a redesigned Teams Store, among others.

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Comments (53)

53 responses to “Microsoft Ignite: Teams Heads to the Metaverse”

  1. rmlounsbury

    I don't entirely understand this obsession with digital avatars in work based applications. I don't even get it in social media oriented apps to that end.

    I suppose there is some benefit to it with users that are disconnected with the office and not coming in. It's weird to me. If I want to connect a video chat is sufficient and the digital avatars will never replace the in person meetings you had when you where in the office.

  2. swiftnc

    Paul, how do I block and report crap posts by waethorn?

  3. red.radar

    How did this even see the light of day? Embarrassing...

  4. clutem1987

    Brings “this could have been an email” to a whole new level

  5. BizTechSherpa

    tldr: blah blah blah...mesh...we have a a metaverse...blah blah blah...avatar...

  6. vladimir

    “to enhance camaraderie, spark creativity, and foster serendipitous water-cooler connections” we need IRL meetings. I just resumed working in person and I just realized how much we lost with the move to remote working. What is really needed is to develop new ways to enhance meeting rooms to allow blending of irl and virtual experiences

  7. Oreo

    Big fat no. I don’t care about the actual product, it suffices that it is Facebook that is building this. I don’t want to touch it or try it.

  8. iantrem

    Wasn't there a platform doing this 10-15 years ago? Another Life? Second Life? I know somebody tried to get a meeting going in it and it took that long to sort everyone out with the technology the meeting was over. Why wouldn't people just use a Teams meeting with video?

  9. nbplopes

    The insistence of tech companies over VR, even after years of public rejection is showing.

    As it stands no company or organization needs it. Solves no problem not to mention it being very inconvenient. The practical application are still niche.

    So why the brain wash?

    Well, VR is the corporate tech capitalist nirvana. With it, if it sticks somehow, gain full control over people environments. They control what you see, what you look like, how you sound like, where you go, with whom you go, heck even what you say by potentially impersonating you .. That is why FB and in part MS are pushing this.

  10. anoldamigauser

    This seems like a jump the shark moment for Microsoft.

    It will do nothing to improve communication or productivity.

  11. polloloco51

    I hope "Mesh for Microsoft Teams" has animal avatars! I would love to drop into a meeting as cat or a chicken! LOL

    Microsoft could actually, take this idea, and make an MMO immersive game too!

  12. cchubbuck

    I really hope my company blocks this feature.

  13. Tomasz Sowinski

    If Microsoft plays it well, it may become a success, just like Hololens.

  14. victorchinn

    Legless in Seattle ?

  15. kcarson97404

    You can barely get people to even turn on their cameras on a Teams call today. I doubt anyone will want to have an avatar in a virtual conference room. This is a technology solution in search of a problem.

    • mefree

      I've been working from home for most of my career, aka, before it was cool. Honestly, I think people would rather have an avatar than turn on a camera. Camera tends to show too much (aka their room is a mess, etc, etc.) Personally I think avatars would get used more than video.

  16. bats

    LOL....this post cracks me up. Not gonna happen anytime soon or in this generation, with respect to the overall general computer-using public. The one that really cracks me up is the "mixed reality headsets." LOL....yeah, right. Anything that is a wearable that can physically alter the way a person looks is practically DOA. These things are nothing but toys.

    • winlonghorn

      Yes because people don’t love wearing glasses and nobody loves vr at all! …….riiiighhhtttt!! Ugh why don’t people think before they speak? lol

  17. christianwilson

    Cyberpunk authors have been trying to warn us about the metaverse for decades, not romanticize about it. We weren't listening.

  18. beckoningeagle

    The cloud is no more! Long live the cloud!

  19. glassman1234

    'Ready Player One' anyone.

  20. Donte

    Please bloat Teams Up more. It keeps Zoom alive at my company.

  21. nine54

    Always amusing how when defining a "VR" environment, people bring in constraints from the real, physical world. Why would we need physical conference rooms and tables in a virtual meeting? I don't need my avatar to sit around a virtual conference table to have an effective meeting. Now, if some of the participants are attending in person, I can see value in better incorporating the folks attending remotely. But I don't see the point of bringing the physical into the virtual.

  22. bluvg

    Many companies are pouring resources into this. Apple has a very big announcement planned, apparently. Will it flop like 3D TV? Maybe, but I wouldn't be too quick to pass it off as a fad. Wait for better execution.

  23. harmjr

    Is it just me or does these online experiences for meeting just feel like a even greater waste of time then doing a zoom meeting.

    • Cosmocronos

      Indeed, it reminds me of the original, and the best, ICQ: simple and linear messaging; down the road more and more features were added and while some were useful the original simplicity and effectiveness of the concept was lost.

  24. blue77star

    What a boring company Microsoft became. They got nothing to interest me. Over the time as they released horrible OS such as Windows 8, 10, 11 ended up my entire household running on iOS, Mac OS, and Linux except only one machine running Windows 10 where I game. Windows is really on a life support called gaming.

  25. roundaboutskid

    It does not have to be that fancy with avatars and 3D. Look at the brilliant simplicity of Wonder. That's how you do it if you want those "water cooler connections". They do it right.

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