If you’re worried the metaverse will be all fun and games, fear not: Microsoft Corp. is taking its own stab at the idea, and it will have PowerPoint and Excel.
The company is adapting its signature software products to create a more corporate version of the metaverse — a concept, promoted by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, that promises to let users live, work and play within interconnected virtual worlds.
The first offering, a version of Microsoft’s Teams chat and conferencing program that features digital avatars, is in testing now and will be available in the first half of 2022. Customers will be able to share Office files and features, like PowerPoint decks, in the virtual world.
“This pandemic has made the commercial use cases much more mainstream, even though sometimes the consumer stuff feels like science fiction,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Nadella himself has used the technology to visit a COVID-19 ward in a U.K. hospital, a Toyota manufacturing plant and even the international space station, he said.
The new Teams features, unveiled Tuesday at the company’s Ignite conference, will let businesses create immersive spaces where workers can meet. The technology uses Microsoft software announced earlier this year called Mesh that enables augmented reality and virtual reality experiences across a variety of goggles, including Microsoft’s own HoloLens. Customers who lack a device capable of displaying 3D images can experience the content and avatars in 2D.