• Gates said Microsoft will be releasing virtual reality goggles and gloves in 2022
  • The move follows Facebook’s name change to Meta

The year is 2024 and most of your office meetings will take place in the metaverse, according to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. 

Gates predicts that office jobs will be revolutionized by the Metaverse, adding that virtual meetings will go from 2D images like the “Hollywood Squares model” to full-on 3D avatars, the tech billionaire said in a year-end note on Thursday. 

“The idea is that you will eventually use your avatar to meet with people in a virtual space that replicates the feeling of being in an actual room with them,” Gates said. 

The 66-year-old, who stepped down from the company’s board in 2020, said that most people will have an avatar they can interact with online. 

These avatars can meet in virtual spaces to connect, allowing coworkers to share virtual offices from thousands of miles away via virtual reality headsets and motion capture gloves “to accurately capture your expressions, body language and the quality of your voice.”

“People shouldn’t assume that the quality of the software that lets you have virtual experiences will stay the same. The acceleration of innovation is just starting,” Gates said. 

Additionally, Gates said Microsoft would be rolling out its own virtual reality headsets and gloves next year, which could use “your webcam to animate an avatar that’s used in the current 2D set-up.” Microsoft’s venture arm, M12, announced that it led a $27 million Series B funding round for crypto startup Palm NFT Studio on Thursday.

Gates’ remarks follow Facebook’s name change to Meta so that the technology giant could be “metaverse-first, not Facebook-first,” according to founder Mark Zuckerberg. 

Microsoft announced its plans for the metaverse at its annual Ignite conference in early November. The company’s CEO Satya Nadella said the tech giant would roll out 90 new services and updates in three areas — one of which was the metaverse.

A blog post by Microsoft’s vice president of communications detailed the first two metaverse initiatives.

Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces will use AI-powered models and data to allow people to interact with each other from any space. Mesh for Microsoft Teams will add personalized avatars and immersive spaces to the Teams product. Both products will be available by early 2022, according to the company.

  • Morgan Chittum is a New York-based reporter covering NFTs, the metaverse, play-to-earn gaming and other emerging Web3 tech for Blockworks. Previously she was a street reporter, covering crime at New York Daily News, and a media and journalism fellow at the Poynter Institute. Contact Morgan via email at [email protected]