Microsoft Mesh—Will Virtual Reality Take Off in 2022?
by Jim Lundy
At Microsoft Ignite, a new virtual reality platform called Microsoft Mesh was unveiled. Powered by Azure and leveraging features such as HoloLens, Microsoft Mesh is the newest virtual reality environment that Microsoft has great hopes for. This blog discusses the announcement and contrast it with previous efforts, such as Second Life.
Introducing Microsoft Mesh—Will Virtual Reality Take Off this Time?
With great fanfare Microsoft introduced Microsoft Mesh, its new virtual reality environment that features holographic avatars interacting with each other in virtual environments. By leveraging 3D capture technology, avatars are more lifelike this time and virtual environments can look more realistic—even though it’s very clear that it’s not real.
The goal of Microsoft Mesh is to allow people to have collaborative virtual meetings and to work on things such as designs for equipment or buildings and be able to interact with those designs virtually. The demo of Microsoft Mesh looked interesting and while there’s certainly new holographic capabilities, the avatars really don’t look any better than on other platforms from over ten years ago.
Microsoft Mesh, Azure, and Security
Microsoft touted the security another features that are built into its Azure cloud platform, which powers Microsoft Mesh. It is good that Microsoft has focused on security because that was really the single biggest thing that led to the demise of earlier efforts in virtual reality such as second life.
Will Microsoft Mesh Go Beyond Second Life?
Second Life was all the rage in 2007. Many companies held virtual events there and, in fact, I did a keynote at Gartner symposium that year and interviewed the founder of Linden Labs on stage. There was great fascination by the audience when we played the movie of my avatar flying around two different parts of the second life virtual world. Security was a big problem as was scalability and that’s what eventually led to a lack of interest in using second life for enterprise level work. Microsoft claims to fix these issues with Mesh and as Mesh becomes available time will tell.
Microsoft Mesh and HoloLens—Better Together
While Mesh will support more than just HoloLens headsets, this is an application that Microsoft will use to sell more HoloLens headsets. Realize that HoloLens starts at $3,500 U.S. and goes up from there (industrial edition costs $4995).
Microsoft Mesh looks promising, but it will be about adoption. We expect many organizations to experiment with it, but for most firms, it will be tough to justify it. Video meeting experiences today are the preferred user interface. We will be following this rollout carefully, so look for more blogs and research in this area.