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How to use Facebook's new VR social network

The company launched Facebook Spaces at F8, the company's developer conference, on Tuesday. Facebook Spaces is a new virtual reality social network. You can create a custom avatar based on photos from your Facebook (FB, Tech30) profile and spend time with up to three other people in a virtual space. You can take selfies, draw pictures with virtual pens and fist-bump your friends.

Facebook Spaces is available in beta for Oculus Rift, the company's VR headset. The app is free on the Oculus store and uses the Touch controllers to track your hand movements. (Oculus and its Touch Controllers cost $598.) CNNTech tested out Spaces at F8. Upon logging in, I set up my avatar, and then tried to interact with a Facebook employee (or "friend") in the virtual environment. However, Spaces didn't work as the company advertised -- while I could hear and see my friend's avatar on the screen, she wasn't moving, and I couldn't draw on the Tic-Tac-Toe game she created for us to play. One thing that did work, though, was the selfie feature. I picked up a virtual selfie stick, took a photo, and shared it to Facebook directly.

Microsoft brings back developer behind Word and Excel

Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) announced Tuesday it has agreed to acquire Simonyi's startup, Intentional Software, to help advance its productivity tools. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. "I am excited, stoked, amped, and elated to join forces again with Microsoft," Simonyi wrote in a post Tuesday.

Simonyi joined Microsoft in 1981 and oversaw development of products like Microsoft Word and Excel. He left in 2002 to launch Intentional Software, which focuses on "reinventing productivity software" for the "modern workplace."

"During his tenure, Charles oversaw the creation of some of Microsoft's most well-known productivity applications," Rajesh Jha, executive VP of Microsoft's office product group, wrote in a blog post announcing the deal. "Now it's my honor to welcome Charles back to Microsoft, along with his exceptional team."


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