• Microsoft expands its presence in the Metaverse with Teams updates and Xbox upgrades

  • Microsoft is entering the Metaverse with updates to its Teams and Xbox gaming console services, as well as a new product called “Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces.”

    On Nov. 2, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the company’s Metaverse plans for Teams and Spaces at the Microsoft Ignite conference.

    “With the Metaverse, we can embed computing into the real world and the real world into computing.” Adding physical presence to any digital space. “What matters most is that we can bring our humanity with us and choose how we want to experience this world,” Nadella said.

    The “Mesh” update for Microsoft Teams will be available in 2022 and will provide users with personalized digital avatars and immersive spaces to meet in the Metaverse “that can be accessed from any device, with no special equipment required.”

    Later in Mesh’s evolution, organizations will be able to create custom spaces to support contexts such as meetings or “social mixers.”

    Microsoft’s new Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces product will be available for the first time in December 2021, allowing organizations to integrate Metaverse and artificial intelligence (AI) technology into their operations. The company claims that Spaces can be used to collect observational data from cameras from “the retail store to the factory floor” in a “hybrid work environment.”

    “With the power of your existing cameras, harness computer vision and observational data to help complete the picture—giving a new perspective into people, places, and things,” wrote Vishal Sood, General Manager of Connected Spaces, in a blog post published on November 2.

    “Following deployment, simply activate AI-powered models known as skills to assist in understanding specific scenarios such as customer behavior at a promotional display, traffic patterns, and insights specific to your space.”

    In an interview on November 3, Nadella also stated that Microsoft’s video game company Xbox will “absolutely” work on incorporating the Metaverse into its gaming lines. The CEO, on the other hand, kept his cards close to his chest, as he did not provide any concrete updates for the gaming sector.

    “You can definitely expect us to do things in gaming,” Nadella said, adding:

    “If you think of Halo as a video game, it’s a Metaverse.” Flight Sim is a Metaverse, as is Minecraft. In some ways, they’re 2D today, and the question is whether you can now take that to a fully 3D world, which we absolutely intend to do.”

    Microsoft isn’t the only mainstream corporation to announce Metaverse plans this week; Cointelegraph reported earlier today that Nike had filed trademark applications for its iconic logo and slogan for use in “online virtual worlds.” The company has also recently posted two job listings for virtual material designers.

    Nike stated that the new recruits would “play a critical role in redefining our digital world and ushering us into the Metaverse.”

    Facebook is famously entering the Metaverse, with the rebranding to Meta and the company working to provide a platform for creators to build virtual online businesses, connect online experiences with the physical world, and launch its virtual reality hardware business called “Reality Labs.”

    On Oct. 29, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian referred to Facebook’s plans as a “masterstroke in diversion and distraction” from the company’s problems.

    While Ohanian stated that Meta should not be “underestimated,” he also stated that there is enough organic movement from the crypto sector to create an open Metaverse rather than one controlled by the social media giant:

    “Right now, there’s a bottom-up movement to build the etaverse. We’ve seen what’s going on in the crypto community… We’re seeing a lot of people creating what I believe will be a much more organic world rather than a top-down Facebook-imposed one.”

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