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Image: Microsoft

With a slew of virtual-reality-related announcements Tuesday, Microsoft reminded us that Facebook parent Meta isn't the only company with plans for a metaverse.

Driving the news: Microsoft said at its Ignite conference on Tuesday that it will bring avatars and its broader Mesh platform to Microsoft Teams, as part of an effort to make meetings more immersive and collaborative. That's part of a larger set of plans for the metaverse.

The big picture: Among the largest tech companies, Microsoft has one of the deepest investments in virtual and augmented reality.

  • It has spent years developing Hololens, a mixed reality headset that has largely been aimed at developers and businesses due to its high cost.
  • It has also created a Windows-based mixed reality platform for consumers that runs on headsets sold by Samsung and others.

Go deeper: How to build a safer metaverse

Go deeper

For CEOs, social media has lost its fun

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

CEO Jack Dorsey's departure from Twitter shows that, in Silicon Valley today, social media is becoming a field to flee.

Why it matters: Coming on the heels of Facebook's name change and new metaverse focus, Dorsey's resignation is another sign that the industry now views the massive social networks it built over the last two decades as buggy "legacy applications" mired in annoying social problems.

California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.