surfer walking into the sunset
Goodbye GigJam, we hardly knew you PHOTO: Rafael Leão

Microsoft announced on Aug. 22 that it will kill off its "spontaneous and ephemeral" GigJam collaboration tool before it reaches general release.

GigJam Release

Microsoft released GigJam in preview in June 2016, promising a new approach to collaboration:

“GigJam is a product coming to Office 365 later this year for people with a co-working mindset. It empowers you to spontaneously and ephemerally involve others in your work.”

These “spontaneously create[d] unstructured workflows," were known as "gigs."

It was a seemingly flexible tool for Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad that broke down “artificial barriers between devices, apps and people.”

The objective was to make work communal, allowing people working in a collaborative environment to divvy up and share content.

It seems to have worked too. Within a month of announcing the invitation preview, Microsoft claimed thousands signed up to share.

GigJam Demise

But clearly something went downhill between the preview and the expected general release as part of Office 365, so Microsoft unceremoniously consigned it to the trash.

The notice announcing the sunsetting was notable for its brevity. The statement read:

“After careful consideration, we’ve decided to retire the GigJam Preview on September 22, 2017 ....

"During the Preview, gigs had a default lifespan of seven days. Effective September 22, any remaining gigs will automatically expire. Thank you for your interest, feedback and support.”

The statement also noted the “learnings and insights that will inform future product experiences.”

The company gave no explanation for the sudden decision or an indication what the “learnings” from GigJam were.

Too Many Collaboration Tools Spoil the Soup?

In the interim between GigJam's preview and this week's announcement, Microsoft added Teams to its already substantial list of collaborative tools. Teams joined Graph and Yammer among the enterprise collaboration tools on offer. GigJam appeared to fill a need for a lighter and less unwieldly tool. 

GigJam provided users with a way of streamlining the content sharing processes — content could be easily redacted to enable sharing of relevant information, or to keep some information private — using simple editing tools.

It also allowed users to invite collaborators into the ‘gig’ and to terminate the collaboration once a given task was complete.

Speculation aside, the one sure thing: GigJam's ending date — September 22, 2017.