Microsoft released Together Mode for Teams video meetings last year to help make video meetings feel a little more personal. It uses AI segmentation technology to put people on a video meeting in the same virtual room, such as an auditorium.
It was one of Microsoft's responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working, serving as a version of custom backgrounds in one-to-one video calls but for large groups. It places a bunch of heads and torsos in the same room and is meant to reduce the mental strain on people who constantly need to enter group video meetings.
While custom backgrounds for Teams lets individual users swap out backgrounds, Microsoft's new capability to create custom scenes for Together Mode is targeted at developers.
"Build your own scenes that elevate your meeting experience. We believe that by making Together Mode extensible, creators can create immersive scenes and users can go beyond simple video conferencing. Started (sic) building your scenes by going to the Developer Portal for Microsoft Teams," Microsoft says.
Microsoft this week matched Zoom's shared backgrounds for free accounts by enabling Together Mode for personal accounts rather than just work accounts tied to enterprise Office 365 subscriptions. Microsoft offers Together Mode scenes for Teams on desktop and the web for free; consumer accounts became available on May 17.
But these features – free and paid-for – come as people grow weary of video meetings and bosses begin to reject the idea of work from home as a permanent fixture of work life.