Microsoft has announced plans to expand The Garage, its self-described 'no-holds-barred ode to hack culture', with the total number of Garage facilities expanding to seven globally.
While Microsoft's Garage research and development arm first opened as an offshoot of its Office Labs division in 2009, it wasn't until five years later that people would see the fruits of the workers' labour. In October 2014, Microsoft opened a dedicated Garage website
where members of the public could download the pre-release software - primarily, but not exclusively, mobile-focused. The initial releases were somewhat eclectic: Voice Commander offered a top-down multiplayer shooter for the Xbox One with Kinect voice-recognition integration, Torque brought Bing to Android Wear smartwatches, Journeys & Notes acted as a social network for commuters, Next Lock Screen brought a new interface to Android, while Snipp3t offered, somewhat oddly, celebrity news.
Since then, Microsoft has been expanding the Garage programme. In the company's most recent announcement
, Microsoft's Christine Nickerson revealed plans to build a further three facilities globally - in Beijing, Hyderabad, and Massachusetts' Cambridge - by early 2018. These facilities join the original Redmond headquarters, Vancouver, Herzliya in Israel, and one in Silicon Valley to bring the total to seven.
'The benefits of having Garage locations are obvious, and they grow exponentially the more sites we build,
' claimed Microsoft's Jeff Ramos, who leads the Garage initiative. 'Having a Garage shows that we are committed to the local community, and to being a thought leader and a resource for that community,
' Ramos added, crediting Satya Nadella's leadership as nurturing a programme which had previously operated largely under the radar as an internal effort.
'There is a lot of amazing engineering happening beyond the six GDCs [Global Development Centres], and we want to cater to that. We want ideation and experimentation to happen everywhere at Microsoft. Anywhere we can share the culture of The Garage, we’ll do it. And really, that’s all of Microsoft. That’s who we are now as a company—it’s part of our culture. So in collaboration with RE&F [Real Estate & Facilities], we will continue making Garage spaces around the world.
A list of current Garage projects can be found on the official website