Area 51 team gives Windows engineers a ‘no-risk platform’ to innovate

Oct 9, 2017   |   Deborah Bach

Image of Ed Doran and Brian Meyers, who lead the Area 51 team

Ed Doran and Brian Meyers lead a Microsoft rapid prototyping team called Area 51 that is shaping the future of Windows.

Launched just over a year ago, the team allows engineers in Microsoft’s Windows and Devices organization — the team responsible for Windows, Surface and HoloLens — to take two weeks away from their regular jobs to go play with ideas. The team does an innovation sprint, then demos its ideas to an executive.

“We wanted to create a team whose sole job would be to provide innovators with a no-risk platform equipped with privacy and tools to go do innovative sprints,” says Meyers.

Area 51 allowed technical architect Gurpreet Virdi to create a new Cortana prototype that launched within a month. She says that would have been impossible to do at her day job, where she is typically balancing multiple projects at once.

“In the past, when I had worked on a new idea, we would ship it and then prototype afterward. Here, we’d already launched a mini prototype and got feedback,” Virdi says. “It gave me extremely high confidence because the product wasn’t such a big gamble anymore.”

Head over to the Microsoft Life blog to read the full story.