We all are aware of how Slack, Hipchat or Trello has made managing office tasks simpler and organizable for us, but what about those who work outside of traditional work environments. I’m talking about the freelance writers, shift workers, waiters and others, whose schedules keep changing every other day. Meet Microsoft’s new scheduling-cum-chat app ‘Project Sonoma‘.

Extending its productivity arsenal a step further, the Redmond giant without any official word has dropped this neat scheduling app on both Google Play and the Apple App Store. But, this is no ordinary scheduling app for day-to-day office going people. In the words of the app store description, Sonoma is:

The one-stop app for deskless workers. See when you’re next scheduled to work. Get important on-the-job info. Chat with your teammates. And more. All from your phone.

First discovered by MSPoweruser, Project Sonoma lays more emphasis on work scheduling rather than collaboration on projects. It, though, still has a messaging service built into the service to communicate with your workspace buddies, or even your boss.

When you open the application, you’ll first see a screen with three sections, namely My Shifts, Requests and Messages. The shifts section tells you the total number of shifts you need to work in the current week, alongwith their time period and any extra notes. Though, unknown, it would be awesome if Microsoft’s new app syncs and updates your shifts in the daily calender.

The second section — Requests —  lets you ask the management for a change in schedule or an option to swap the same with others. While, the messages section, as everyone already knows, will help you stay in touch and ask questions from your co-workers. It will also serve at the one-stop for important reminder and updates from your boss.

And if you’re wanting to try out the app, alas!, it is only available to a closed group of select users and businesses at the moment. Microsoft says the app is currently in “Private Preview,” but there’s an option to enlist your business on the waitlist using the bare-bones website.

Who developed Sonoma?

While some may be interested in just downloading and enjoying the application, some others like us are more interested in knowing when did Microsoft plan to develop a scheduling-cum-chat app. And even if it did launch an app, did it develop the same on its own or did it acquire a business to do so?

Well, there are two theories floating about the interwebs at the moment. It is upon you to choose the one you believe.

While, in an official statement released by Microsoft, it says,

We’re always building and incubating new solutions to help people get more done, and we don’t have any availability timelines or details to share at this time. We can confirm that Project Sonoma has been developed internally by Microsoft from the ground up and is not based on an acquisition.

Look at the last line where it points out that the ‘Project Sonoma’ has been developed by engineers at Redmond from the ground up, but our friends over at TechCrunch believe otherwise. They are of the opinion that Sonoma is a result of a small acquisition or acqui-hire of a Sydney-based app startup called Shiftr. The package name of the app on the Play Store is in fact ‘Shiftr’, which begs us to ponder if Microsoft is being exactly truthful or not.

Microsoft has always been introducing apps and features to further your productivity and save time. Previously it acquired cross-platform calendar app Sunrise, but has shuttered the same recently. It has just yesterday acquired an AI-powered scheduling service, Genee, to bolster the scheduling capabilities of its Office 365 suite. Another step towards better productivity!

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