Microsoft clicked the Genie on Wednesday and invited the whole neighborhood into its online Garage to try out a handful of consumer apps that are still in the works

The opening of its once-private workshop, now available on the Microsoft website is the latest in the tech giant’s goal to boost an image of open atmosphere for both developers and users. This softer side of Microsoft campaign took off soon after CEO Satya Nadella took the company’s helm; it makes a stark contrast with the bombastic Steve Ballmer years (and, frankly, the preceding Gates years as well) that offered little room for public input. 

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In another effort to understand what the people want, the Microsoft Windows Insider program invites users to try out Windows 10, and offer feedback on the still-in-production operating system. “Windows 10 will be our most collaborative OS project ever,” Microsoft VP Terry Myerson during a press event earlier in October. He added that Microsoft will “make sure people have been heard and listened to.”

Microsoft engineer Xuedong Huang (credit: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures)

Inviting the public to join its inhouse community of experimenters is another big step in Microsoft’s rebranding, one aimed at making the customer feel part of the company.”We are a community of interns, employees, and teams from everywhere in the company who come together to turn our wild ideas into real projects,” reads the Garage intro page. “This site gives you early access to projects as they come to life.”

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Intrepid tech tinkerers can try out 16 experimental apps currently available in Microsoft Garage, including productivity tools, social apps to help you connect with your friends and mobile games. Many of the apps currently available for download are built for one or two operating systems. Poke around and you’ll find options for Android, Android Wear, iOS, Windows, Windows Phone or Xbox One.

Images courtesy of Microsoft