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Microsoft Teams makes Avatars generally available, and will launch a private preview of Mesh

Microsoft teams avatars

As part of Microsoft's Build 2023 developers conference, the company revealed some new features for its popular Teams online meeting service. The big news is that Avatars, which were launched in a public preview for Teams users in March, are now generally available for all Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise subscribers.

Avatars are available for both Windows and Mac Team clients. They allow people to join in a Team meeting and interact as a 3D avatar, instead of their real face. The company stated:

Avatars for Microsoft Teams offers an alternative to the current binary option of video or no video and features customizable avatars and reactions. Avatars give users the option of a camera break, while encouraging engagement and fun.

While Avatars are now generally available for Teams users, Microsoft has also announced a new private preview for another upcoming Teams feature. This is called immersive spaces, and it's powered by the Microsoft Mesh platform, which first launched in 2021.

Much like how Meta has promoted its "metaverse" elements, Microsoft Mesh is a mixed reality platform designed to let people remotely connect with each other with more realistic looking life-sized avatar models. This kind of technology will be tested in the Teams private preview. Microsoft stated:

Connecting with others in immersive spaces mimics many elements of in-person interactions, like the ability to walk over to the group users want to catch up with or to wave at others in the room. And with spatial audio, a large discussion with multiple conversations or a quick side chat can occur without feeling like an interruption.

The immersive spaces feature in Team can use a PC or a virtual reality headset. Microsoft Mesh is also launching a private preview this week, which is likely not a coincidence. This is more of a developer preview, with Microsoft allowing a select number of developers to create these kinds of immersive experiences. It stated:

With Microsoft Mesh, developers can build experiences that extend beyond the bounds of the physical world, enhancing experiences like remote and hybrid town halls, employee training, new employee onboarding, and virtual tours and simulations.

There's no word on when Microsoft might launch a public preview of Mesh or its Immersive spaces feature for Teams.

In case you want to read more, you can find the rest of the Build 2023 coverage here.

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