Is this the update to make Microsoft Teams calls bearable at last? I doubt it

A video conference screenshot showing the Microsoft Teams avatars, now in public preview.
(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you're one of those people who dread a day of Microsoft Teams work calls, then the company thinks it has the answer for you - but it might not be what you expected.

The video conferencing platform has announced that virtual avatars will be made generally available for all users of the Windows and Mac Microsoft Teams desktop app.

The company says it believes the new offering, which has been in testing since January 2023, will make video calls more bearable by offering users more customization options.

Microsoft Teams avatars

Just how suitable these new avatars and reactions will be for work-related calls remains to be seen, but in a blog post announcing the news, the company also noted that the new Microsoft Teams avatars offer an alternative to the current binary option of "video or no video". 

It also added that, "Avatars give users the option of a camera break, while encouraging engagement and fun", noting that avatars will be customizable, alongside new personalized reactions. 

FaceTime users have long been able to apply their own Animoji or Memoji whilst on a video call, so Microsoft will be hoping its launch helps drive more users towards Teams as a whole.

At Build, the company also announced the launch of new "immersive spaces" for Microsoft Teams calls. 

Built using its new Microsoft Mesh development platform, the company says its new spaces will offer an immersive experience to a Teams meeting - useful if you need a bit of separation from the office.

Accessed either through a PC or a VR headset, the experiences will apparently be able to span across large virtual locations, giving the opportunity to move between different rooms or spaces in order to communicate with different teams or inviduals, and spatial audio will mean that users can engage in individual chats or larger discussion with multiple conversations seamlessly.

The new platform could therefore be used to boost a single team's communication, or be the backbone of a virtual conference or company event.

The new immersive spaces will be available in preview within the next few days, ahead of a wider launch later this year.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.