Microsoft Axes 'Project GigJam' Before It Could Exit Preview

Microsoft is ending development on "Project GigJam," a productivity and collaboration tool for Office 365 that was first unveiled at the 2015 Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).

During his WPC 2015 keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella heralded GigJam as being on the "frontier" of how users can collaborate around data spread across different applications, devices and platforms.

Microsoft launched an invite-only preview of GigJam last May, upgrading it to a public preview last June. In both preview announcements, Microsoft officials stated that they expected to release GigJam before the end of 2016. This week, however, the company abruptly announced that it was shutting down work on the product next month.

"After careful consideration, we've decided to retire the GigJam Preview on September 22, 2017," Microsoft said in a short GigJam blog post on Tuesday.

Using the data mining capabilities of the Cortana digital assistant, GigJam allowed users to collect specific data points stored in different applications onto card-like interfaces, which they could then share with other users on their own devices, regardless of the platform. The first GigJam demo from WPC 2015 showed the tool enabling collaboration between iPhone and Surface devices, for example. GigJam also let users link separate data sets to be shared on the same card, as well as customize which data points to share and which to keep private.

[Click on image for larger view.] GigJam lets users pool together data from different apps on different platforms and devices. (Source: Microsoft/WPC 2015 demo)

"Clearly, this is not just screen-share. This is something very different," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Julia White at the time. "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."

Microsoft did not give any reason for its decision to retire GigJam, though it did imply that it plans to incorporate parts of GigJam's technology into other products.

"GigJam introduced a new way to spontaneously create unstructured workflows and the Preview delivered learnings and insights that will inform future product experiences," Microsoft said.

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