The Microsoft Garage is a building on the company's campus that was set up six years ago as a way for employees to create side projects in their spare time, such as the Mouse Without Borders application released in 2011, Today, Microsoft posted their own feature story on the Garage facility and offered an example of one of the more whimsical projects that have been created inside its walls.
Part of the feature story shows how an idea for recreating the Windows XP starup chime in another media came about inside the Garage. At first, the idea was to make a record with the familiar sound via a 3D printer. However, that plan was stopped when it was discovered that the printers in the building didn't have high enough of a resolution.
The notion of making a "3D-Printed Robot Xylophone Glass Orchestra" was floated around, but the final project involved using a simple toy xylophone, combined with 3D printed mallets and servo motors. Those elements, along with a specially programmed application, allowed the team to successfully play the Windows XP startup sound.
Obviously, that's a more extreme example of a Microsoft Garage project. The company says that in the past six years, over 3,000 of its employees have worked on more than 10,000 projects in the facility. Some of them become actual Microsoft products and software features, such as the Forgotten Attachment Detector that has now been incorporated into Outlook 2013. Another Garage-created project turned into the Bing Keyword Distribution Graph, shown above, that offers a way for online advertisers to track online searches.
Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft