Mingis on Tech: The death of Microsoft's GigJam

The collaboration tool offers some forward-thinking ways of sharing information from various sources, but never gained traction. Although it's being sunsetted, some of those features met yet show up in Office or other suites.

Admit it: You've never heard of GigJam.

The Microsoft collaboration tool, which has been flying under the radar for the last 18 months or so, offers forward-thinking ways of sharing information between workers in real time from various sources – everything from Office 365 to LinkedIn, Dropbox, Salesforce and Trello.

As Computerworld Senior Writer Lucas Mearian explained to Executive Editor Ken Mingis, information a user wants to share is circled in GigJam and passed along to others on the same project. And info that needs to be hidden can be crossed out, blocking its access by other GigJam users.

The GigJam UI works using a keyboard and mouse, and can also be enabled through touch and voice input. It remains available for Windows, Mac and iOS users.

But that's going to change next month. Microsoft earlier this week announced it plans to shutter the tool on Sept. 22. The company said little in a blog post about the rationale behind its decision.

Analysts, however, argued that GigJam never quite found the right audience, since it offered collaboration in ways workers weren't used to.

Alan Lepofsky, principal analyst at Constellation Research, earlier this week called GigJam "an incredibly bold and powerful concept. [But] it didn't have a metaphor that people could easily relate to. It was not file sharing, web conferencing, or social networking. It was a new way to work."

For its part, Microsoft argued that it gleaned "insights" from the beta testing that could "inform future product experiences."

In other words, while GigJam is going away, the world of collaboration remains robust, and some of the tool's features may well show up in future Microsoft products.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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