BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

Microsoft is now joining the Metaverse battle by bringing the metaverse to office life. The US software giant indicated that in the first half of next year, users of its Teams collaboration software would be able to appear as avatars or animated cartoons in video meetings. Remote workers will also be able to use their avatars to visit virtual work spaces, which would eventually include replicas of their employers’ offices. This is part of a big effort to combine the company’s mixed reality and HoloLens work with meetings and video calls that anyone can participate in. Microsoft’s plan is based on underlying technology, known as Mesh, that it unveiled earlier this year to handle far more complex virtual interactions on different types of hardware, from PCs to virtual reality headsets. Microsoft is building on efforts like Together Mode and other experiments for making meetings more interactive, after months of people working from home and adjusting to hybrid work.

Microsoft views Teams product as a key tool to introduce metaverse at work by enabling avatars within Teams. The Microsoft collaboration product has become the software through which many workers communicate with colleagues and access Microsoft’s wider set of productivity tools. The company said it would integrate its other productivity software into its new virtual experiences allowing workers to do things like view PowerPoint presentations in the metaverse.

Microsoft will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to listen to your voice and then animate your avatar. If you switch to a more immersive 3D meeting, then these animations will also include raising your avatar’s hands when you hit the raise hand option or animate emoji around your avatar. Microsoft envisions virtual spaces inside Teams where people can network and socialize with games or even use Microsoft apps to collaborate on projects.This move by Microsoft will speed up efforts to build metaverse as Meta (formerly known a Facebook) will feel the need to retain the leadership position