Microsoft announced its VR Maker Tool SharePoint Spaces during its annual SharePoint Virtual Summit held in May 2018. During the summit, the software giant had announced that it was planning to ship the Sharepoint extension for VR and AR. The new VR maker tool was named ‘Spaces’ for SharePoint, Microsoft’s web-based collaborative platform for enterprise clients.
More than 400,000 companies around the world use Microsoft’s file exchange and digital collaboration platform-SharePoint.
Microsoft has now announced that SharePoint Spaces is almost ready for a general release to SharePoint users. The launch will happen within the first half of 2020, possibly by the first quarter. Spaces should support all the common conventional virtual reality headsets as well as HoloLens.
Spaces has been developed to offer a point-and-click simplicity by allowing users to create immersive environments easily through media like 3D assets, 360 photos and 360 videos. All of these are stored in the SharePoint folders. Most importantly, users create simple VR environments without any coding skills or any experience with gaming engines like Unreal or Unity.
Spaces, Microsoft’s web-based immersive platform, is currently available in private preview but Microsoft has promised that a public preview will be availed to SharePoint users “ideally in Q1, but certainly in the first half of 2020”. News of the announcement was first reported by the German XR news website MIXED.DE.
The companies using the SharePoint platform are said to have saved over one petabyte of 3D content and 360-degree videos at SharePoint. These can now be viewed along with Spaces in the virtual rooms in the future. By allowing users to start building simple environments for immersive headsets, Microsoft is initiating one of the major software rollouts seen in a long time in the enterprise sector.
Creating XR Learning Environments without Programming Skills
XR support at SharePoint will be smooth and straightforward. As soon as a user puts content in a SharePoint folder, it will be viewable in a VR space. SharePoint supports 360-degrees photos and videos in addition to 3D objects.
It will be possible to click together simple courses or work environments through a user interface even without possessing any programming knowledge and skills. According to Microsoft mixed reality designer Amy Scarfone, this will work in real time and in a matter of seconds. The intermediate step through a 3D engine such as Unity is not necessary anymore. The control will be entirely pointer-based and it will support all XR controllers.
Scarfone is also a fan of Facebook’s standalone virtual reality headset Oculus Quest and has said the SharePoint Spaces team is currently working to support every tethered virtual reality headset. Scarfone has also noted that the Microsoft Mixed Reality team is currently working to optimize for Oculus Quest. Quest’s portability offers numerous advantages and lends itself easily to various enterprise uses.
SharePoint Spaces is currently available in a private beta and you can apply for that here. The public version of the Spaces is expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2020 and most certainly within the first half of this year.