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Microsoft Debuts 'Project GigJam' at WPC 2015

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Microsoft unveiled a new productivity solution called "Project GigJam" during Monday's opening keynote at the 2015 Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), taking place this week in Orlando, Fla.

In his keynote presentation, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described GigJam as being on the "frontier" of how people, applications and devices interact to perform tasks efficiently. GigJam allows users to quickly retrieve, display and share data across different applications and platforms, with the Cortana digital assistant acting as the facilitator.

GigJam displays data from different sources as separate card-sized windows on the desktop "canvas." Users can then choose to share each card, as well as how much data from each card others can see. Users can also ask Cortana to link different datasets for convenient sorting.

Julia White, general manager of the Microsoft Office division, took the stage after Nadella to give the first public demonstration of GigJam. While using a Surface tablet, White queried Cortana to retrieve information from two different Dynamics CRM datasets, as well as related information from her Outlook inbox. White demonstrated how drawing a circle around the two Dynamics CRM cards gives users the option to either link both datasets or share them. Crossing out certain lines of data lets GigJam know not to share those particular data points:

[Click on image for larger view.] Users can choose which datasets to share, and what data points to keep private.

White also demonstrated how GigJam can work across devices and apps. Using GigJam, White shared data from her Surface to another user's iPhone. The iPhone user also shared a dataset from Informatica with White. In all cases, each of the data cards displayed on the GigJam canvas retained their unique interfaces:

[Click on image for larger view.] GigJam works with different platforms (such as the Apple iPhone, left) and different apps.

"Clearly, this is not just screen-share. This is something very different," White said. "What's happening is GigJam is actually creating a unique mini-app with exactly the elements I described. It could be UI, it could be data, it could be anything. It creates that mini-app and then it shares that to each of the devices that I share it with. But I have complete control over what everyone sees."

It's also possible to initiate Skype meetings through GigJam, according to the demonstration.

In a blog post, Microsoft explained how GigJam is able to share data from different sources among users who may not all have access to the same apps:

  • The summoned information and associated actions come from the business's existing applications and SaaS via REST APIs, with OAuth 1 and 2 authentication.
  • When a user divvies up and sends information to another person, it is in the spirit of screen sharing or casting, with the twist that each person can have a different view, and any field or row or even a UI affordance like a scroll button can be redacted. The recipient gets only the UI the sender intended, with information flown through a cloud proxy for the sender's device.
  • The business's overall process logic and security policies are thus honored.

A preview of GigJam will be "upcoming," Microsoft said. Those interested can register for the preview here.

More from WPC 2015:

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.