Monday, November 28, 2022
HomeMicrosoftMicrosoft, Adobe, Accenture... Meta multiplies partnerships for productivity in virtual reality

Microsoft, Adobe, Accenture… Meta multiplies partnerships for productivity in virtual reality

Meta presents its Quest Pro mixed reality headset as primarily intended for professional use. This implies having dedicated applications, which was not the case until now for the company’s consumer products. During its Connect 2022 conference on October 11, Meta therefore announced partnerships with several big names in productivity, starting with Microsoft.

Windows and Office 365 in virtual reality

Mark Zuckerberg had a video chat with Satya Nadella where he announced the arrival of Microsoft Teams on Quest Pro and Quest 2 devices for immersive meetings, as well as the ability to stream your Windows desktop and access, among other things. Office 365 applications (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook…) and documents hosted on Sharepoint.

In addition, Teams and Horizon Workrooms will be integrated with each other, and it will be possible to join a Teams meeting from Workrooms, but also to use Meta avatars in immersive Teams meetings. Note that a similar partnership regarding avatars has also been announced with Zoom and will take effect in early 2023.

Finally, Microsoft InTune and Azure Active Directory will now be able to manage Quest 2 and Quest Pro. Meta is still working in parallel on its own MDM (mobile device management) and account management solution for businesses. Called Meta Quest for Business, it should be announced before the end of the year. It will include additional warranties as well as privileged technical support and will be marketed as a SaaS subscription.

Autodesk and Adobe are not left out

Microsoft isn’t the only partner for Meta, which says it’s been working with “dozens of companies to create new experiences” for a year. Autodesk is one of them. The 3D design giant is preparing an update to its collaborative design review app to support Quest Pro.

Adobe is also developing VR versions of its Substance 3D apps, which will come to Quest Pro and Quest 2 next year. The eternal Adobe Acrobat will also be there to work on PDF documents from a virtual environment.

Finally (and above all) Meta will open its ecosystem to publishers of independent professional solutions. A program dedicated to these famous “Independent Software Vendors” (ISV) will be launched next year. These have driven the adoption of immersive technologies in the professional world so far, but few of them have worked with Meta outside the US. Hopefully this new program will change that.

A single player experience for Horizon Workrooms

Meta didn’t skimp on its side with Horizon Workrooms, its virtual reality meeting application. Thanks to Quest Pro and its new sensors, avatars can now reproduce facial expressions and show exactly who is looking at what, allowing for much more natural interactions. Note that a new version of said avatars is coming early next year.

Another novelty planned for 2023: the possibility to see 3D models, which is expected since the launch of the application. This is currently limited to 2D documents projected onto a whiteboard. In the meantime, it is now possible to use post-its on the board in question.

Perhaps the most interesting announcement regarding Workrooms is a new “personal office” that allows you to work with three giant screens and four types of virtual environments. A passthrough mode is always present to take advantage of the capabilities of Quest Pro. Meta is also working on a mixed reality experience called “Magic Room”, designed for work groups in hybrid situations: some remotely, others gathered in the same room. It is still in the prototype stage.

Accenture wants to accelerate XR adoption in business

If these software announcements represent a step in the right direction, the large-scale implementation of these technologies remains complex in business, especially since virtual and augmented reality are still primarily of interest to field applications. Meta has a great ally to accelerate in this area: Accenture. Julie Sweet, CEO of this large consulting specialist, appeared at the conference to testify about her own practice in this area.

Accenture has deployed more than 60,000 Quest 2 headsets over the past two years and used them to onboard more than 150,000 new employees. To do this, the multinational relies on a virtual campus developed in-house with Microsoft, “Nth Floor”. It is easy to imagine that the first orders for the Quest Pro have already been placed.

During an interview last month, Yves Bernaert, managing director responsible for Europe at Accenture Technology, gave us proof of the real interest in this VR experience: Accenture continues to use it even after the Covid-19 restriction periods are over. “We have very good feedback on it, about 4.7 out of 5. And we are also starting to use these technologies in certain management meetings to increase the interactions compared to video conferencing.”

But Accenture listens above all to its customers. It created a dedicated division, the Metaverse Continuum Business Group, in April to better tackle the task. It already has more than 1,000 employees in Europe alone. “More than a third of our historical customers are talking about these technologies at a strategic level or have pilot projects underway. Things are accelerating, which is out of proportion to the past.”Yves Bernaert told us in September.

Julien Bergounhoux

@JBergounhoux

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