What is The Garage?
The Garage delivers programs and experiences to our employees, customers, and partners that drive collaboration, creativity, and experimentation.
The Garage has a bias for action. Our motto “doers, not talkers” continues to be the core of what we are.
The Garage attracts people who are passionate about making a difference in the world. They are relentlessly curious and lifelong hands-on learners. By actively participating in the creative process, regardless of success or failure, each person gets the opportunity to gain valuable insights, increase their knowledge, and learn diverse perspectives. In the early days of The Garage, the focus was on employees and mobilizing Microsoft’s cultural ambitions. The Garage helped employees integrate growth mindset, making a difference, diverse and inclusive, One Microsoft, and customer obsession into everyday work. As The Garage grew and the culture shift actions gained critical mass, entire teams and organizations were driving their business forward using these actions. An additional focus of The Garage was helping teams and organizations integrate growth mindset activities into team workflows. More recently, The Garage has continued to evolve by bringing in Microsoft customers to team up with employees for high speed growth mindset activities.
The Garage has four interconnected programs that support different stages of personal and project development. While all are connected through Microsoft’s cultural pillars, each program addresses different stages and maturity of idea development.
Garage Global Sites
The Garage provides spaces for hacking and making for employees, interns, and more recently, the local ecosystem and customers. New Garage facilities with expanded capabilities and equipment are now open at all Microsoft Global Development Centers. These centers are hotbeds of engineering talent and innovation. Centers are located in Redmond, Washington, Vancouver, British Columbia, Silicon Valley, Herzelia, Israel, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Hyderabad, India, and Beijing, China. The Garage team develops programming at each location tuned to the needs of the local community. Talks and workshops help hackers explore and cross-pollinate technology. These events cover new development platforms such as Xamarin, Microsoft Cognitive Services, and Unity. Check out Smart Tagger, a Cambridge collaboration between the Office product team, Garage Interns, and local enterprise customers.
Hacking at Microsoft
The Garage is a portal to hack culture at Microsoft. We believe hacking is for everyone, technical and non-technical. Everyone has unique skills, experiences, and interests to contribute. We recognize good ideas can come from anywhere. Regardless of role or discipline, everyone is challenged to give it their all, to experiment with technology and turn ideas into real projects, in a fun, supportive atmosphere. There is no shortage of good ideas, and with many dependencies on project viability, team motivation, and relevance, results vary. Some ideas end before there this a working prototype. Others are inspired to continue the journey and iterate on their solution, hoping to bring it to market. A smaller set take their idea all the way to a high quality working solution ready to test in the marketplace.
The flagship Global Hackathon, the largest private hackathon on the planet, attracts more than 20,000 employees and interns from around the world. It offers a fast 48 hour event to team up, hack, and move an idea forward. Winning teams earn the opportunity to pitch to senior leaders, and many teams continue to work on their projects throughout the year. Projects are evaluated for patent potential, viability, and alignment to the business. Ideas and prototypes may be selected for further review or funded to continue development. While a two-day hackathon is an unlikely but not impossible birthplace of the next billion-dollar idea, there are many great ideas that have the potential to delight customers and add value to our products. Internally facing projects may have great impact and improve existing policies, processes or services. Amazing synergies and connections across technologies and silos are made, and many return to their day job inspired and re-energized. The Garage Wall of Fame showcases projects that went the distance to become a Microsoft branded product or feature.
The Garage is Microsoft’s official outlet for experimental projects from small teams across the company to test a hypothesis, receive early customer feedback, and determine product market fit. Project teams get expert guidance, and a lightweight release process to help teams get their experiments out quickly. Teams move fast, connect directly with customers, and iterate based on feedback. The teams are as unique as the projects, which you can find on the Workbench and try for yourself.
The Garage Internship Program
The Garage internship offers a small number of talented students a unique opportunity to work with each other in teams, hack on contemporary technology, conduct customer research, design, and develop a product. Microsoft product groups compete to have Garage interns select their idea and build a prototype in twelve to sixteen weeks. Projects that meet quality and readiness bars have the opportunity to ship as experimental projects for customer feedback. One intern recounts his experienceas a Garage blog.
These high impact programs offer opportunities for anyone to unleash their ideas, follow their instincts, take risks, and exercise their creative muscle. They also offer opportunities to learn new technologies, work closely with people of different backgrounds, and help foster a culture – on a team, in a division, and at the company – in which people are empowered, self-directed, and nimble.