Microsoft has recently opened up a new 60,000 square foot facility in Redmond, Washington that it is calling the Garage. News.com got the chance to receive the first public tour of the new offices which are designed to help spur innovation at the company by letting its employees create side projects that they don't have time to do during normal business hours.
According to the article, the Garage program actually started over two years ago but Microsoft finally gave the program its own building which opened last week. The Garage offices are actually in Building 4, one of the oldest buildings on the Microsoft Redmond campus. In fact the bathrooms had things like "IBM sucks" before Microsoft renovated the space. Now the building has been changed to allow more open space. The article states, "Sprinkled around the building are new 'pods,' temporary work spaces where teams of two, three, or five employees can set up shop to collaborate on projects for weeks at a time."
In addition to the new building, Microsoft also holds what it calls "science fairs" that allow its employees to show off their creations to other. One of the most recent projects is the Lync Conversation Translator. The program lets two people who speak two different languages use a chat program to "speak" to each other. One English speaking person types in a statement directed to a German-speaking recipient and it shows up on the German speaking person's screen in his or her own language, and vice versa.