Microsoft is making good on its commitment to bring mixed-reality and artificial intelligence capabilities to all its products with a preview version of "SharePoint Spaces," as well as new AI enhancements coming to SharePoint and OneDrive. SharePoint Spaces will allow SharePoint users to create and consume mixed-reality 3D "spaces," such as the one in the image embedded in this post above, where they can visualize and interact with data and product models. Microsoft unveiled the new technology on May 21 during the SharePoint Conference North America opening keynote. To view/manipulate a mixed reality SharePoint Space, users can -- but don't need to -- use a HoloLens augmented reality or other type of Windows Mixed Reality headset. Microsoft is designing SharePoint Spaces to work in a browser without a headset, as well.
Microsoft steps ahead in its commitment to bring mixed-reality and artificial intelligence to all its products. At its SharePoint Virtual Summit, the tech giant announced the preview version of SharePoint spaces, and new AI innovation to SharePoint and OneDrive. The SharePoint spaces will enable users to view and interact with content from every angle, and visualize and manipulate data and product models in real-time, Microsoft said. SharePoint with mixed reality experience will help businesses in onboarding new employees, learning new objectives, and developing new products. It comes with simple point-and-click functionality and smart templates, allowing users to create mixed reality environments with ambient sounds, lighting, beautiful surroundings, and rich textures.
Microsoft is sticking with its pragmatic approach to VR with SharePoint spaces, a new addition to its collaboration platform that lets you quickly build and view Mixed Reality experiences. It's a lot like how PowerPoint made it easy for anyone to create business presentations. Sharepoint spaces features templates for things like a gallery of 3D models or 360-degree videos, all of which are viewable in Mixed Reality headsets (or any browser that supports WebVR). While they're certainly not complex virtual environments, they're still immersive enough to be used for employee training, or as a quick virtual catalog for your customers. "Until now, it has been prohibitively complex and costly to develop customized MR apps to address these and other business scenarios," wrote Jeff Teper, Microsoft's corporate VP for OneDrive, SharePoint and Office, in a blog post today.
Microsoft overhauled its SharePoint software two years ago to better compete with Dropbox, Slack, and Box, and it's going a step further today by bringing its business-focused software to its Mixed Reality headsets. SharePoint is primarily used by businesses to organize documents, build intranet sites, and manage content internally. SharePoint spaces is designed to be an immersive environment for data manipulation and visualization, something we've seen some VR apps do in the past. Microsoft imagines that by bringing SharePoint into the virtual reality world, businesses will use it for onboarding new employees, training courses, and product development. It's hard to imagine, but Microsoft wants businesses to let new recruits sit with a virtual reality headset and learn about the company through a 360-degree orientation process.
Microsoft officials have said it before and they're saying it again: SharePoint 2016 is not the last on-premises release of SharePoint. Microsoft made generally available starting May 2 its latest SharePoint release. Microsoft plans to make available to SharePoint 2016 users even more features beyond what's in the current release in calendar 2017, officials confirmed on May 4. Microsoft plans to make at least one feature pack of updates available in 2017 through its "Public Update Channel." In order to qualify to get these updates, users will need to be covered by Microsoft's Software Assurance volume-licensing plan. Microsoft will update those who qualify "through our update process when new innovation is available and provide the option for those customers to selectively enable those features," Microsoft officials said on May 4. Technology vendors are using a gloomy backdrop to pitch omnichannel, analytics and the Internet of things as magic bullets vs. Amazon.