Microsoft users can now access Office apps through VR headsets, with the likes of Word and Excel having been made available on Meta’s Quest devices.
The partnership between Microsoft and Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) has been on the cards for some time, with their respective CEOs Satya Nadella and Mark Zuckerberg coming together in 2022 to announce their collaboration plans.
It was at the Meta Connect event that the two outlined their aim to bring Office apps and Windows 365 desktops to the Quest virtual reality headset. Now, following over a year of development, the apps have had their general release on Quest, Quest 2 and Quest Pro devices.
Whilst some analysts may be getting excited about how this development suggests it’s only a matter of time before people swap their traditional desktops and laptops for virtual screens, those closer to the project have urged a little more caution.
As it stands the apps aren’t native to Quest, and don’t currently offer features specific to the virtual or mixed reality worlds. Instead they are hosted in the cloud and can be used either through hand gestures or via a Bluetooth-connected keyboard and mouse. Users can view up to three virtual screens at any one time.
These initial roll-outs are more about showcasing the potential than widespread use by the general public, senior analyst at 451 Research Raúl Castañón suggests. He told computerworld.com that the early adopters here would likely be those in industries with a specific need for such technologies, including education and training simulations.
Another reviewer, Techsponential’s Avi Greengart, said the resolution and Passthrough aren’t yet at a level where users would “want to spend too much time using Office apps in the headset.” He did, however, note that it was very much a step in the right direction for tools such as PowerPoint, which are ripe for mixed reality assistance – for example by being used as a teleprompter for people delivering presentations.