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. "SharePoint spaces empower creators to build immersive experiences with point-and-click simplicity."
In a brief demonstration at Microsoft's Build conference this month, SharePoint spaces seemed just as easy to use as PowerPoint. You start with a blank project, choose a template for the type of VR experience you'd like to make, and then drop in any relevant files. There's plenty of customization, too, since you can change the background imagery, lighting and sounds. Within a few minutes, I created a rotating gallery of 3D objects to explore, as well as a page featuring 360-degree videos. Sure, the experience was a bit basic, but it was still impressive since I didn't need a lick of 3D editing knowledge to build it.
Sharepoint spaces is clearly just a first step for Microsoft when it comes to creating Mixed Reality, but it could be a way for businesses to stand out as VR headsets become mainstream. Your creations aren't just limited to a small market, since you can view them in web browsers too. Much like Paint 3D, Microsoft's first stab at making 3D creation mainstream, Sharepoint spaces is a glimpse at where we're headed.
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