As recently as late October 2022, Ihsan Anabtawi, CMO of Microsoft UAE, announced that Microsoft’s Metaverse ambitions were not “a short-term investment” and that it would be “bringing the full power” of the company’s capabilities “across several areas to enable the future of computing in the Metaverse for business and consumers.”
So, what has Microsoft achieved to date, and how could the company become a leader in transitioning the cloud to Metaverse platforms?
What We’ve Seen So Far
As well as becoming a founding member of the Metaverse Standards Forum, Microsoft’s most significant step to further its Metaverse ambitions was to announce its intent to acquire the gaming company, Activision Blizzard.
Responsible for some of the most popular video games, including “Call of Duty,” Activision Blizzard is a gaming industry cornerstone. The deal is still under regulatory scrutiny, but if it completes, Microsoft will become the third-biggest gaming company in the world.
That Microsoft chooses now to make such an acquisition is no coincidence. The existing Metaverse is currently a gaming space inhabited by gamers. “World of Warcraft,” an Activision Blizzard title, is one of the foundational platforms many organizations look to when constructing Metaverse experiences.
Microsoft has announced that the intention is to make gaming frictionless, accessible over multiple devices, and on-demand. This strategic shift to a mobile-first approach aligns with an overall vision of the Metaverse as a fluid, virtual universe supported by next-generation telecoms and data infrastructure.
Beyond Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has its Hololens 2, an augmented reality device that enables users to project still and moving images to the screen and overlay virtual graphics onto physical objects. And then there are the advances with Microsoft Teams.
Mesh is the virtual infrastructure built into the Teams platform that will enable fully immersive virtual meetings. Recently, Microsoft announced that it was partnering with Meta to provide Mesh access to users of Meta Quest headsets and bring X-Box Cloud Gaming to the Meta Quest store.
What’s To Come?
Microsoft is about to take what many commentators see as the next business-critical step in developing the Metaverse, incorporating the cloud. The company has committed to making its cloud resources compatible with Metaverse experiences, enabling companies to use the data to enrich Metaverse applications.
Microsoft’s Meta partnership could demonstrate the most rapid results with its 365 productivity apps and, eventually, the Windows 365 suite available on the Meta Quest. The functionality will enable the Meta Quest to host a Windows Cloud PC.
Furthermore, Microsoft Intune and Azure Active Directory for Meta Quest Pro and Meta Quest 2 will enable administrators to achieve the same degree of identity security and device management in virtual reality as they can with physical devices.
Yet, cloud integration with the Hololens 2 is the most exciting advancement. With this, users can leverage Microsoft’s cloud resources for the data, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) processes required to construct and develop digital prototypes.
“Microsoft’s efforts to provide cloud-based analytics, data, and AI for Metaverse-centric product design are important and should address two critical gaps: the technological divide between the Metaverse and the cloud infrastructure so prevalent in enterprise computing, as well as the real-world applicability gap.
“By way of its Activision acquisition and its cloud leadership role with Azure — #1 in the Cloud Wars Top 10 — Microsoft is better suited than any company to address these.”Tom Smith, Acceleration Economy Analyst