10 Cool Microsoft Garage Projects You Didn't Know About - InformationWeek
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1/29/2016
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10 Cool Microsoft Garage Projects You Didn't Know About

The Garage is a hub for employees across Microsoft to work on different projects. Here are some of its works-in-progress.
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(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

Microsoft has built a news app to directly compete with services like Apple News, Google News, and Flipboard. News Pro, built for iOS but also available on desktop, was released on Jan. 27. News Pro comes from Microsoft Garage, an internal organization intended to give employees across the company an outlet to share and build ideas.

Projects start out as small-scale, but those with potential can grow to have larger influence and, as with News Pro, a commercial release. News Pro tries to separate from the pack by marketing itself as a business-focused service. It's intended to help you "search for news related to your business and everyday work," according to the Microsoft Garage homepage.

Its angle isn't surprising given Microsoft's broad enterprise audience, but you can use News Pro to find articles on more than a million topics. It functions similarly to its rivals. You choose areas of interest and the app sources articles to match.

[ Also from the Garage: the evil Mimicker Alarm, powered by AI ]

The user interface is straightforward. Users sign in via LinkedIn or Facebook, foregoing the name, email, and address entry common with registration for online services. Not a huge deal, of course, but appreciated.

From there, you can browse recommended articles under "Home" or click "Explore" to select topics of interest. The app lets you select specific businesses, organizations, skills, and products to follow. Click the check mark to add a topic to your personalized feed; click its box to view a list of relevant articles.

Aside from News Pro, there are a few other cool ideas percolating in the Microsoft Garage we haven't given much attention. Here, we take a closer look at projects currently on the workbench, where users can try the works-in-progress and share feedback.

Do you see any ideas with potential in this batch? Any duds? Which would you use? We'd like to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Rising stars wanted. Are you an IT professional under age 30 who's making a major contribution to the field? Do you know someone who fits that description? Submit your entry now for InformationWeek's Pearl Award. Full details and a submission form can be found here.

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2016 | 2:11:20 AM
Re: Privacy
I like FindTime, too - at least it can do something to ease people's busy life. I think it's a matter of getting used to it and keep using it until it's a habit.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2016 | 3:32:42 AM
Re: Mouse without Borders
@progman2000 I've never heard of this program before, but there are similar programs like Mouse without Borders.
I use Input Director everyday. It's been out for almost 9 years. Very useful little thing. I read that a version compatible with Windows 8 and 10 is coming out soon. I might give a try to Mouse Without Borders in the meantime.
liverdonor
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liverdonor,
User Rank: Strategist
2/1/2016 | 12:33:12 AM
Re: Here's what I learned from this article.
@yalanand,

Ever so slightly less costly than an iPhone, and yes, it _is_ a great phone. Never said it wasn't.

Hell, if it weren't for the price and lack of support from the developer community, I'd buy one. Even if it were a mediocre device (and I'm not saying it is, just not quite Flagship fit-and-finish), Windows 10 and Continuum would make it worthwhile.

But if MSFT employees aren't going to support their own device, then why on earth should the business community? Why should the consumer?

It's truly a sad state of affairs for what is actually an excellent platform, that's all I'm saying.

Maybe if they rebrand it the "Surface Phone", it'll get more traction. I hope so, actually. I really like Continuum.

Oh, and btw - I have two Lumias - an 822 and a 929 (Icon).

I'm just disgusted and saddened by the way this device has been treated. Between the schizophrenic madness of Windows Mobile - no Windows Phone 7, no 8 --- no, just Windows 10. No, wait - Windows 10 Mobile!

and the hoky API madness of Win32, no, .NET Compact Framework, no wait - Silverlight! Or, no - just Windows 10.

I am not surprised it didn't take off. Truthfully, buying Nokia and making Windows 10 a unified code base are the only two coherent strategies that MSFT has taken throught this whole debacle.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:09:25 PM
Re: Cool stuff
@Progman2000: I heard Google Glass was pulled. Last I checked Glass would have taken these notes and sent the data for processing to the Google servers and highlight the important bits.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:06:42 PM
Re: Findtime
@SachinEE: Even I didn't know FindTime existed, and I proclaim myself to be an app store explorer. It has brilliant functionality. I like how you said MS needs to make a no nonsense workplace phone with functionalities the iPhone would be scared to touch.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:03:14 PM
Re: Arrow
@Progman: I'm not ashamed to say that I find Google launcher and Nova launcher to be the best experience. It's snappy, sometimes laggy but is visually appealing.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:01:48 PM
Re: Cool stuff
@SachinEE: S-voice and that snappy? Not in 3 years time buddy. In smartphone terminology that is a huge period of time. But I do agree that Digital assistants would become more aware of the user. But please don't make it self aware though, because then it would press charges for labour of more than 60 hours per week.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 9:58:53 PM
Re: Here's what I learned from this article.
@Livedonor: Still less costly than an iPhone with zero lag. Lumia devices are amazing. That price isn't for the hardware, its for the software engineering that ties together the UX. Remember Lumia 720? It still hasn't had a decent price cut and works just fine, without lag.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 1:48:47 PM
Re: Cool stuff
@tzubair- I am sure these AIs would take a few more decade to absorb the intelligence of a human. 
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 12:01:32 PM
Re: Cool stuff
@SachinEE: Recording the meeting conversations or transcribing it is not really the issue here. The technology is advanced enough to do this on its own. The challenge here is to have AI tools that are advanced enough to understand what's recorded or transcribed and bring out the important bits on their own. They should be able to disect and disintegrate the information captured and extract meaning from it. Doing that without any human intervention will be the next challenge.
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