Microsoft broadens preview availability of its GigJam collaboration service

Microsoft's new GigJam service and client app for "getting work done" is moving to the public preview phase, with general availability targeted for the end of calendar 2016.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Last July, Microsoft took the wraps off a new collaboration application/service called GigJam.

Credit: Microsoft

Today, May 12, Microsoft is broadening availability of the preview version of GigJam beyond the current private-preview tester group. Those interested in testing GigJam can request an invitation (if they haven't already) and download the new app "shortly."

The Invitation Preview is currently available for Windows and Mac OS X, with an iOS preview "coming soon," officials said. Once users receive an invitation, they can download the GigJam client app and User Guide, and then immediately start testing the new app/service.

GigJam is designed to help users get work done on any device. A team inside the company had been developing the GigJam app and service for several years on the sly before announcing it at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference last year.

GigJam breaks down tasks into a set of discrete steps and sets of information. Those involved in a particular task can converse (online or offline), get information from their internal business and/or software-as-a-service apps and keep track of the processes involved -- all in the name of accomplishing tasks more quickly.

GigJam isn't a new instant messaging, screen-sharing or document-collaboration/sharing application or service. It's a manifestation of Microsoft's ambient computing work, officials say.

Under the covers, GigJam consists of a set of new Azure services plus a lightweight client for every major operating system. GigJam talks to line of business apps, SaaS, communications services and more using standard REST application programming interfaces (APIs). No other integration technology is needed, officials said.

Examples of the types of tasks users can accomplish using GigJam include showing an email to a colleague without forwarding the mail or handing over a phone; sharing a business contract with someone in sales with sensitive or irrelevant information redacted; or getting help from someone on the procurement team to figure out parts that can be substituted on a customer order. Microsoft has made some GigJam "how-to" content available on YouTube.

Microsoft's current goal is to make GigJam generally available as part of Office 365 before the end of calendar 2016, officials said today.

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