Microsoft has unveiled a new initiatives to get their engineers working on projects that interest them. It’s called Microsoft Garage, and it’s not all that dissimilar to the 20% time Google gives their employees for working on side projects every week. As Microsoft puts it:
Hackers, makers, artists, tinkerers, musicians, inventors—
on any given day you’ll find them in The Microsoft Garage.
We are a community of interns, employees, and teams from everywhere in the company who come together to turn our wild ideas into real projects. This site gives you early access to projects as they come to life.
It’s an awesome new initiative by Microsoft that should breed the same innovation that’s helped Google come up with some of their best services and apps. Microsoft Garage has already spawned some very interesting creations, and funnily enough many of those creations are made for Android.
There’s Journeys and Notes, an experimental social network that emphasizes places as much as people. Folks who beat the same path can come together to share their experience, whether it was a simple ride to work or a refreshing jog in the park.
Next Lock Screen is a lock-screen replacement that brings your calendar appointments, messages and most used apps to the forefront. It’s not the first or most exciting smart lock screen we’ve ever seen, but it does seem to be designed pretty well and also comes with a couple of unique features (such as the ability to automatically change lock-screen wallpapers based on time of day or location).
Finally there’s Bing Torque, an Android Wear app that connects you to Bing with the simple flick of your wrist (as opposed to using the voice-activated OK Google command to be whisked away to Google’s search engine). Bing Torque is voice-capable after the initial flick of your wrist so you won’t ever have to touch the watch to perform whatever search you need.
It’s very telling that Microsoft Garage has spawned more Android products than products for Microsoft’s own platforms to this point. That could change in the near future, but for Microsoft this isn’t just about improving their own platform and bottom line — it’s about inspiring and promoting innovative ideas from within their company to help change the tech world however they can. Kudos to Microsoft for a much needed culture change.