Your Microsoft Teams work meetings could soon get a whole lot more immersive following the release of a major new virtual upgrade.
The company has announced the launch of Microsoft Mesh, a platform that looks to bring co-workers and collaborators together as virtual avatars, no matter where in the world they actually are.
Available on both PC and Meta Quest to begin with, Mesh is powered by Microsoft Teams, and looks to provide workers who may be spread across the globe with a central video conferencing location to feel like they really are all in the same room together.
Microsoft Mesh in Teams
"The way we work has changed, but the secret to a thriving workplace has not," Nicole Herskowitz, Vice President, Microsoft Teams noted in a company blog post announcing the news.
"Deep human connections are required to increase engagement, stimulate performance, and retain talent. Organizations foster connection through key moments like new employee onboarding, town halls, brainstorming sessions, team socials, and networking events. However, when these activities are hosted remotely, they are less effective at building personal connections that people and organizations need to thrive."
Mesh in Teams offers a number of pre-made 3D environments to reflect the mood of the gathering, with options such as a boardroom for meetings, or outdoor spaces for more casual or networking occasions.
Avatars will be customizable to reflect the user's own appearance, with the one small caveat that they will only be half a body - with nothing below their waist for some reason.
Microsoft says most existing Teams features will be available in the new 3D space, including live reactions, accessing shared content, and communicating via chat.
Businesses will also be able to create and customize their own experiences in Mesh in Teams, with a no-code editor powered by Unity, Microsoft's 2D and 3D development platform allowing users to add in visual elements such as images, branding and even video.
The company says it has already signed up a number of big-name customers to use the platform, who have experimented with virtual events, teambuilding exercises and even onboarding.
Any businesses interested in trying out Mesh in Teams can sign up for a six-month trial now, but will require an active Microsoft 365 or Teams business plan. If not, you'll be able to sign up from $4 per user per month for a Microsoft Teams Essentials plan, which can rise up to $57 per user per month depending on your needs.
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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.