Microsoft throws in the towel on Facebook: It enters the metaverse race through Teams |

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Microsoft “opposes” Facebook by announcing that it brings metaverse into Teams, its own version of Zoom, which is also integrated in Windows 11. Users, in the first phase, will be able to appear from 2022 as live cartoons or 3D digital personalities (“avatars”) in their web chats, as well as to visit and share virtual workspaces, without having to wear a special VR (Virtual Reality) device on their head, but if one uses something like that, then the digital experience its will be even more enriched.

Microsoft’s move shows two basic things: On the one hand, the big tech companies are taking metaverse (the upcoming online mix of physical and digital worlds) seriously, and on the other hand, they do not intend to let Facebook – which deliberately changed its name to Meta – monopolize this development.

Microsoft announced that within the first half of next year, employees and other users of the Teams video conferencing platform will be able to look not as individuals but as digital and, using these personal “avatars”, will participate in virtual meetings. offices. The American company’s design is based on the new Mesh technology, which allows the management of complex virtual field interactions on different devices, from computers to virtual reality “helmets” worn on the head.

Microsoft believes that, after extensive teleworking and “hybrid” work (partly physically and partly remotely), this will be the next big trend in the world of work: Employees will be interacting more and more frequently in the future. virtual and augmented reality environments, without having to appear in front of the camera. The user will be able to choose whether to appear in an online meeting himself or to “send” his digital persona.

As Teams CEO Jared Spataro put it, “With 250 million people in the world using Teams, the introduction of avatars will be the first metaverse element to look real.”

Microsoft intends to integrate other software into the new virtual reality, e.g. enabling working Teams users to make PowerPoint presentations in metaverse. In addition, the company will use artificial intelligence, so that, after first hearing the user’s voice, the avatar wiggles his lips as if he were really saying the words in the human voice, while at the same time the expressions appropriate for each occasion will be added to the avatars. facial expressions and gestures.

In the next step, translation support will be added so that one can communicate through the Teams virtual space with people from all over the world without language barriers. Businesses will also be able to create their own virtual spaces, something like separate metaverses within Teams.

According to the Financial Times, this is a gradual approach – and perhaps more pragmatic – to the adoption of metaverse by employees, which seems to contrast with Facebook’s more “revolutionary” vision, which has been envisioned from the outset. a full virtual reality work environment. It is clear, however, that Microsoft and Facebook will compete in the metaverse era.

In a separate development, according to Reuters, Microsoft announced the implementation of new technologies that allow its own cloud computing services to work in data centers of other companies, even competitors. Microsoft is already – mainly thanks to its Azure – already the No. 2 in the world in the market of “cloud” services, after Amazon Web Services, according to the research company Gartner.

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