Microsoft Garage

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Microsoft Garage
Microsoft Garage logo 2015.png
Type of site
beta testing
Available in English
Owner Microsoft
Slogan(s) Do epic s--t.
Commercial Yes
Registration No
Launched October 22, 2014 (website)
Current status Active

The Microsoft Garage is a Microsoft project division that lets employees work on projects that often have no relation to their primary function within the company, and has been compared[by whom?] to Google's "20% time" initiative. The physical location of the original Microsoft Garage is Bill Gates' former office on the Microsoft campus, and employees from all divisions of Microsoft are free to take part in Microsoft Garage in their off-duty time. It contains a hardware workshop as well as an actual working garage door. Since 2014, the Microsoft Garage is a global division with many Garage locations spread all over the world.

Garage resources include a team of experts to help accelerate project development. These experts consult with project teams who want to ship through the Garage on all aspects of project development including engineering, design, go-to-market, and analytics. Project teams own their project from ideation to retirement – they design, code, build, release, and support their project. These teams are as small as two and as large as twenty people. Teams that win the annual worldwide Hackathon get to meet a member of the top level leadership team to discuss their project and receive direction.[1]

The Microsoft Garage's official motto is "Do epic s--t". It was made public via the Microsoft Garage website in October 2014 as a part of opening up Microsoft's software development to the public.[2] At the Microsoft Garage website, people are invited to try out the latest experimental applications developed by Microsoft.

Projects developed in Microsoft Garage may or may not become a part of Microsoft's product offerings, depending on the success achieved in testing.


The Microsoft Garage originated as an offshoot of Office Labs in 2009. The central idea during the nascent period of the Microsoft Garage (2009-2014) was based on the fact that many tech companies were "started in a garage". As Microsoft is an old tech company, they needed a safe space where employees could "fail fast". After the 2014 worldwide hackathon, an event that drew over 10,000 Microsoft employees and interns, the Garage community expanded to a pathway to move small scale ideas forward.[3]

In October 2014 the Microsoft Garage was elevated to a division without physical location that enabled all Microsoft employees to participate. On October 22, 2014, The Garage launched the first set of lightweight, cross-platform apps created by incubation teams across the company. When the Microsoft Garage website was made public, there were 16 different applications available for various operating systems such as Google Android, Android Wear, iOS, Windows, Windows Phone and the Xbox One.[4]

In February 2015 Microsoft launched a new wave of Android and Windows Phone applications, one of them previously being a Nokia application.[5] As of April 2015, the Microsoft Garage has completed over 10,000 projects by 3,000 employees.[6]

Microsoft divisions often shut down to relocate to the garage to test their new software, an example of this occurred when the MSN Mobile team tested its page layout on various smartphones every time the team made a small tweak to the web portal. They developed a tool to email mockups of screenshots of the phone every few minutes.

In January 2016 Microsoft announced to open additional Garage locations in Beijing (China), Hyderabad (India) and in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA).[7][8]



  • Mouse without borders is a Windows desktop application that allows users to control up to four different computers with a single keyboard and mouse set by acting similar to a virtual KVM switch.[9]
  • Snip is a screenshot-taking and annotation application that allows its users to make notations on captured screenshot images and make them into instructional videos.[10]
  • Plumbago is a notebook app designed for handwriting recognition and pen input, Plumbago comes from the Latin word for graphite and is also used for several species of flowering plants.[11]

Windows Phone

  • Tetra Lockscreen was a Windows Phone application designed to work with the new lock screen APIs of Windows Phone 8.1, it had a stopwatch, weather, agenda, and maps widgets that provided information collected from the user's applications. Tetra Lockscreen served to show developers what they can do with Windows Phone's lock screen.[12]
  • Join Conference (previously Nokia Conference) was originally a Lumia Beta App designed by Nokia, when elevated to the Microsoft Garage it gained Cortana integration, it works by notifying users about their coming meetings in their calendars and shows the meeting IDs and PIN codes. Upon its re-released it was no longer a Lumia exclusive, but the available markets on which application was available was reduced to 17.[13]
  • SquadWatch is a friends tracker that allows users to see where their contacts are if they have registered with the service.
  • DevSpace is a Visual Studio-based application that allows users to check the developments they were working on on their desktops and notebooks from their mobile telephones, it uses a two-step verification process called OAUTH.
  • InstaNote is an audio capturing note-taking application that allows users to capture an unlimited amount of sound but will only save 30 seconds of the selected recording, among its other features are tagging, task assignments and importing speaker identifications from the Outlook Calendar.[14]
  • Receipt Tracker is an expense tracking application that allows users to make a picture of their receipts and then the application will analyze it through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and make a note of the expenses which can then be saved to Microsoft OneNote.[15]


  • Torque is a voice-controlled application for Android and Android Wear that can conduct searches using Microsoft Bing. Torque was originally an exclusive for Android Wear but with version 2.5 it was released to Android phones and added local events and flight status to the functionality of the application.[16]
  • Next Lock Screen is an app launcher that shows users their latest appointments, most used applications, meetings, and shows the general agenda, Next Lock Screen has been criticized for offering the native lock screen capabilities of Android 5.0 rather than adding anything new.
  • Journeys & Notes is a social application that connects users who are on the same route and use the same mode of transportation, and lets users write notes to each other.[17][18]
  • Your Weather a Chinese application that provides the weather conditions of various cities in China, it was developed in close cooperation with Microsoft Research Asia and the China Meteorological Administration.
  • Keyboard for Excel is a keyboard optimised for Microsoft Excel Mobile with a 10-key number layout for fast data entering and a tab key for easier navigation through tabs.
  • Snap to Pin is an application that can save internet articles for later consumption through screenshots that users can then save to Microsoft OneNote or share them with the user's contacts via social network outlets.[19]
  • Parchi is a note-taking application similar to Evernote and Sticky Notes, the name Parchi comes from the Hindi word Patchi meaning "'small pieces of paper used for short notes", other than simple note taking users can use the application to colour notes and make notes searchable via hashtags and notes taken with Parchi can be shared via SMS or instant messaging services.[20]
  • Arrow Launcher is a launcher app developed for instant access to users' favorite apps. It has separate pages for recent calls and messages, to-do lists, and widgets.[21]
  • Connections is a contact manager that aids in managing different types of relationships both personal and professional, over traditional contact managing it offers annotation and categorisation. Microsoft's Connections application was released in India on January 18, 2016[22]
  • Microsoft Mimicker is an alarm clock application that forces users to play a game or take a selfie of the user's mood in order for them to turn off the alarm.[23]
  • Kaizala is a productivity app for Android designed to track a user's bills, jobs, and location, it also enables group conversation and communication by sharing relevant information and extracting value from a group chat.[24]
  • Sprightly is a business productivity app that allows users to create E-Cards, Price lists, Catalogs and Flyers for their companies.[25]
  • Hub Keyboard is a keyboard for Android devices that features language translation and the ability to search for documents and contacts from the keyboard itself.[26]


  • Tossup is communications and scheduling tool for Android and iOS designed to combine SMS and web messaging for social meet-ups and integrates Yelp data, but the application has been criticized for essentially being "another" instant messaging service that offers no innovative features.[27][28]
  • Send is an emailing application originally launched for iPhone but was announced for Android and Windows Phone (and only available in the United States of America and Canada upon launch) that is designed towards short-form email messages and allows users to send emails without subject lines and is geared towards adding "key facts" and asking "quick questions" as opposed to more traditional means of emailing. Only messages generated in Send are visible in Send while for comparison messages in Microsoft's Outlook Mobile will display other emails as well as emails created in the Microsoft Send application.[29]
  • Invite is a meeting scheduling application originally launched for the iPhone but was immediately announced to launch on Android and Windows Phone at a later date. Invite allows users to suggest times that work best for them and will let attendees vote for the best time; attendees can be invited via email and may vote within the application or via a browser; after voting the user can send the date to all attendees' calendars.[30]
  • Twist is a photo conversations application originally launched for iPhone and iPad devices that acts as an instant messaging service but instead of using the traditional emoticon and emoji characters for visual communication users can use photographs.[31]
  • is a website that adds facial hair to pictures in the spirit of Movember; it is based on Microsoft's Project Oxford Face API.[32]
  • Fetch! is an iOS application and a website ( based on Microsoft's Project Oxford's APIs but unlike MyMoustache it can identify a Dog breed based on an uploaded picture.[33]
  • SandDance is a data visualisation site developed by the Microsoft Research Visualization and Interaction Team (VIBE) which can analyse and present it in a more visual way to make it easier to be understood by wider audiences. SandDance is both available as a web-tool and as an add on for Microsoft Power BI.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Kasanmascheff, Markus (2017-01-09). "Interview: Microsoft Shares Details about Microsoft Garage Strategy and Expansion". WinBuzzer. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  2. ^ Foley, Mary Jo (25 February 2015). "Microsoft opens Garage door, shows off experimental apps.". CNet. 
  3. ^ Finney, Joseph (18 April 2015). "The Microsoft Garage is a place where Microsoft employees can feel free to fail. Tools and space give talented people the right environment for invention.". WinBeta. 
  4. ^ Popkin, Helen A.S. (22 October 2014). "Microsoft Garage Is Now Open To The Whole Neighborhood.". Readwrite. 
  5. ^ Jawad, Usama (5 February 2015). "Microsoft Garage unleashes a plethora of apps for Android and Windows Phone.". Neowin. 
  6. ^ Cameron, Sean (17 April 2015). "Microsoft opens the Garage for the world to see, Have a little look at wonderland.". WinBeta. 
  7. ^ Kasanmascheff, Markus (2017-01-09). "Interview: Microsoft Shares Details about Microsoft Garage Strategy and Expansion". WinBuzzer. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  8. ^ "Microsoft Garage". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Mark (25 February 2015). "Exciting new experimental apps emerge from Microsoft Garage.". Beta News. 
  10. ^ Kaelin, Mark (2 September 2015). "Microsoft wants you to Snip your next screenshot.". Yahoo! News. 
  11. ^ Fuh, Oliver (21 February 2016). "Hands-on with Microsoft Garage’s new Plumbago app (video).". WinBeta. 
  12. ^ Popa, Bogdan (31 March 2015). "Microsoft Pulls Tetra Lockscreen App from Windows Phone Store.". Softpedia. 
  13. ^ Viswav, Pradeep (25 February 2015). "Microsoft’s Join Conference App Now Available For All Windows Phone Devices.". Windows Mobile PowerUser. 
  14. ^ Vasile, Cosmin (1 July 2015). "Microsoft Garage Project InstaNote for Windows Phone Released.". Softpedia. 
  15. ^ Brengel, Kellogg (30 June 2015). "Microsoft Garage releases Receipt Tracker for Windows Phone.". WinBeta. 
  16. ^ Hernandez, Pedro (7 December 2014). "Microsoft's Torque Wearable App Heads to Android Phones.". eWeek. 
  17. ^ Staff, Electronista (23 October 2014). "Microsoft releases three apps for Android, Android Wear on Google Play.". Electronista. 
  18. ^ Newman, Jared (22 October 2015). "'Microsoft Garage' embraces cross-platform spirit with new Android apps.". PC World. 
  19. ^ Vasile, Cosmin (4 September 2015). "Microsoft Releases Snap To Pin for Android. It allows users to save articles for later reading The Microsoft Garage team is back with yet another Android application that can be downloaded via Google Play Store. Dubbed Snap To Pin, the app has been initially launched in New Zealand to Android users.". Softpedia. 
  20. ^ Padla, Reah (21 October 2015). "Microsoft Garage’s Parchi ideal for quick note-taking.". Android Community. 
  21. ^ Huilgol, Mahit (29 October 2015). "Microsoft Garage Arrow Launcher for Android Available for Public Download.". Technology Personalised. 
  22. ^ Anderson, Kareem (19 January 2016). "Microsoft Garage releases "Connections" contact manager, available on Android in India. "Connections helps you better manage your relationship with your contacts"". WinBeta. 
  23. ^ Weinberger, Matt (22 January 2016). "Microsoft's bizarre new alarm clock app for Android might make you take a selfie before it turns off.". Business Insider. 
  24. ^ Viswav, Pradeep (22 February 2016). "Kaizala App From Microsoft Garage Helps You Track Bills, Jobs And More.". Microsoft PowerUser. 
  25. ^ Viswav, Pradeep (22 February 2016). "Microsoft Garage’s Sprightly App Allows You To Create Professional Grade Content On Your Mobile Device.". Microsoft PowerUser. 
  26. ^ Kasanmascheff, Markus (23 February 2016). "Hub Keyboard: Microsoft Garage Releases Innovative Android Keyboard Replacement. Hub Keyboard, a new app from the employee-powered Microsoft Garage offers multitasking features like translation and document- or contact search right from the keyboard.". Winbuzzer. 
  27. ^ Miller, Chance (6 July 2015). "Microsoft introduces ‘Tossup’ iOS app to make scheduling outings with family & friends easier.". 9-to-5 Mac - Apple Intelligence. 
  28. ^ Newman, Lily Hay (6 July 2015). "Microsoft Releases "Tossup" to Help Friends Meet Up Because No Apps Do That.". Slate. 
  29. ^ Sawers, Paul (22 July 2015). "Microsoft launches lightweight email app Send for iPhone, coming soon to Android and Windows Phone.". VentureBeat. 
  30. ^ Protalinski, Emil (24 September 2015). "Microsoft launches meeting app Invite for iPhone, coming soon to Android and Windows Phone.". VentureBeat. 
  31. ^ Hutchinson, Roland (15 October 2015). "Microsoft Releases Twist Photo App For iOS (Video).". Geeky Gadgets. 
  32. ^ Popa, Bogdan (9 November 2015). "Microsoft Launches to Calculate the Length of Your Facial Hair. Microsoft Garage launches machine learning-based tech, You probably remember Microsoft’s service that employed machine learning technology to try to determine your age using just a simple photo.". Softpedia. 
  33. ^ Hay Newman, Lily (11 February 2016). "Microsoft’s Fetch! App Is Terrible at Identifying Dog Breeds. That’s What Makes It Great.". Slate. 
  34. ^ Giret, Laurent (22 March 2016). "SandDance, new from Microsoft Garage, visualizes your data. "Look at data from many different angles"". WinBeta. 

External links

  • Official site
  • Microsoft Garage apps
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