Microsoft's GigJam Productivity Tool Preview Expands

Microsoft's latest Office 365 collaboration tool will be getting a wider testing audience, the company announced this week.

GigJam, which has been in private preview since its WPC debut last July, is now available via an "invitation preview," Microsoft announced on Thursday. Those interested in testing the tool can sign up for an invitation through the GigJam site.

While introducing GigJam during his WPC keynote last year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described the tool as being on the "frontier" of how workers can collaborate and share information across multiple platforms, applications and devices.

The GigJam user interface consists of a "canvas" on which users can drag the applications or files that they're currently working on. Those files and applications appear on the canvas as index card-like elements. Users can then invite others to view and edit each card in real time on their own GigJam canvas.

Users can also select which parts of a card to share with others, and which parts to keep private. Simply crossing out parts of a card -- for instance, the "Send to" line of an e-mail -- will remove that information from other users' views. Also, circling multiple cards on the GigJam canvas will group those different data sets for other users when they're invited to collaborate.

[Click on image for larger view.] Users can choose which data points to share, and what data points to keep private. (Source: Microsoft 2015 WPC keynote demo.)

GigJam works across multiple operating systems and devices. Video demos on Microsoft's announcement Thursday show collaboration between workers using a Surface Book and a MacBook Pro. At last year's WPC, Microsoft demonstrated using GigJam across a Surface tablet and an iPhone. It also allows users from different organizations to work on the same card.

This TechNet blog post from GigJam's WPC debut explains how tool's data sharing works:

  • 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.

"GigJam helps you spontaneously and momentarily involve others in your work," Microsoft said in its announcement Thursday. "You just summon all the live information you need, divvy it up by circling what you want to share and crossing out what you don't and control what others can see or even co-work with you in real time. Now you can finally involve others inside and outside your organization to help you get work done in the moment."

The GigJam preview is currently available for the Windows and Mac OS X platforms, with a version for iOS "coming soon," according to Microsoft's announcement. General availability is expected by year's end.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.


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