Microsoft shows off new GigJam service for 'getting work done'

Microsoft has been building a new cloud service and light-weight apps, Project GigJam, on the sly for several years. Here's what's under the covers.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft execs are showing off on the opening day of the company's Worldwide Partner Conference a new service aimed at helping users on any device get work done.


The service and associated light-weight apps, known as "Project GigJam," have been years in the making inside the CEO's Chief Technology Office. The service will be available in preview in the coming months, officials said today.

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 new and different kind of productivity offering, says Vijay Mital, Microsoft General Manager of Ambient Computing and Robotics and one of the principals involved in developing the product.

"We turn every task in an application into a multi-person app, all at the speed of communication" said Mital. What's under the covers that makes GigaJam work?

GigJam consists of a set of new Azure services plus a lightweight client for every major operating system. The services are node.js, the clients are HTML/JavasScript with a Cordova wrapper. 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.

The backbone is just plain old http://. That's how the clients talk to the GigaJam cloud services. All calls to line-of-business apps, SaaS apps, Skype, Office 365 and other applications and services are just REST calls.

GigJam makes all calls using OAuth 1 and 2, so all service calls are fully credentialed. The device OS manages the credentials. The use of Azure Active Directory or any another ID broker is transparent to GigJam. GigJam doesn't hold credentials. When something is sent to another person, the information is streamed from the sender's device, boosted by a temporary cloud proxy and sandbox.

"GigJam is doing something unprecedented," said Mital. "It's an entirely new system. it's ultra-light weight and follows standard protocols of HTTP, OAuth, REST, HTML/JavaScript, and more."

To sign up for more information on GigJam when it gets closer to preview, interested parties should go to the GigJam site and follow @GigJamApp on Twitter.

An interesting aside: Mital was also one of the main shakers and movers behind Project Siena, Microsoft's tool for non-professional programmers for building Windows Store apps. Project Siena some how figures into the new and still-unannounced PowerApps service Microsoft has been building. Is there any connection between PowerApps and Project GigaJam? We'll see....

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