Microsoft and Meta announced yesterday on their blog that they will join forces and bring new immersive experiences to the world of virtual reality. It’s a partnership where Microsoft sees an opportunity to bring Teams and other of its products to VR headsets, and Meta gets a key partner in its grand metaverse creation plan.
Forced to change
Over the last two years, we have experienced major changes in the way we do business. The pandemic has forced many companies and employees to work remotely. New ways of doing business began to develop that, admittedly, existed before, but on a much smaller scale. Most of the work began to be done from their own home almost overnight.
This has led to a large increase in the number of users of various programs for communication and remote work. One of the most famous programs of this kind is Microsoft Teams. Over the past two years, the number of monthly users on Teams has grown drastically.
“Microsoft Teams has grown to 270 million active, monthly users, becoming a ubiquitous platform for business collaboration and business processes,” Microsoft said. “Teams growth clearly shows how the business has changed and in what direction it is developing further.”
People need a better way of communicating in order to be able to create and collaborate remotely. There is a good chance that it is the metaverse that will play a key role in remote work, allowing people new and better ways to connect and collaborate. Microsoft says in a blog post that 50% of people who belong to the younger generation think they will do at least part of their work in the metaverse in the next two years.
What does the Microsoft-Meta partnership bring?
Microsoft, as a platform company, focuses on bringing productivity and collaboration in the workplace through creating software experiences that are available to users on all their devices. It is from this that their partnership with Meta derives; to provide their users with as many options as possible in terms of working in the metaverse.
An important part of this partnership is the adoption of Microsoft applications in on Meta’s devices.
“Microsoft 365 apps will be available on Meta Quest devices, allowing people to use their favorite apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and SharePoint, in VR.”
Microsoft is also bringing Teams to Meta Quest devices. Teams will have Meta’s custom avatar system built into it and will receive support within Meta’s own Horizon Workrooms meeting rooms.
“People will be able to join the Teams meeting directly from Workrooms,” Mark Zuckerberg said during Meta Connect. “We think this experience across devices and screens will be the foundation of the virtual offices of the future.”
However, virtual offices like this won’t just be used for meetings by meetings. Microsoft is bringing Windows 365, the company’s platform for sharing full versions of Windows to other devices, to Quest devices.
Meta Quest Pro and Quest 2 will also support Microsoft Intune and Azure Active Directory apps, allowing IT administrators to provide Quest for their employees through Meta’s business subscription. In other words, they will be able to “lend” their employees hedsets that will offer the same amount of security and management options as business computers and cell phones currently offer.
Microsoft and Meta are also working on bringing Xbox Cloud Gaming to the Meta Quest Store to allow people to share a large number of Xbox games on mobiles, tablets, PCs, certain smart TVs, and, perhaps most importantly in this context, Meta Quest headsets. Experiences like this won’t be complete ports of Xbox games in VR, but you’ll be able to take an Xbox controller and play those games on a large virtual screen.
Microsoft seems to be pleased with the partnership.
“This partnership aligns well with our focus on HoloLens development and we are excited to continue developing the agenda we have for mixed reality (MR) devices, guided by cloud-first access with Windows and Microsoft 365 at the helm. All of this further enhances our efforts to build the foundation of a responsible metaverse with security, compliance and experiences that are at the level of a larger enterprise where we will continue to build new opportunities for the future of work.”
As for Meta, they now have a key ally to help them realize the idea of the metaverse.