Several Microsoft employees and interns formed a group and decided to publish ideas in form of prototypes and offer them for (free) use to the general public. Of course, the general idea of letting people use this prototypes is to gather some metrics that can help (for example) to decide if some of this ideas, in one form or another, will be used in new version of Office.
If you like these prototypes you can help the team by provide data/feedback, but you can use them even if you do not want to share any data with Microsoft, just be careful – there are prototypes and they are not supported by Microsoft or MS official products!
If you like the idea so much that you want to join this team within the Microsoft – you can do that just read the page regarding the jobs within the group: http://www.officelabs.com/Pages/Jobs.aspx
There are (currently) two very interesting project:
Community Clips – represents collection of "how-to" videos about Microsoft Office products made by ordinary users. It is also interesting because it includes a screen recording application to easily create and share your own videos to help others.
Search Commnads – Are you Office 2003 expert user that have found yourself in a “hot spot” when wanted to find a command in Office 2007? I am! So I tried this Office add-in and it helped me to search for commands in my own words and get the button to do it, instantly. Works with Microsoft Office 2007 - Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
There are several other interesting projects like: SharePointPedia – use Share Point as a some kind of WikiPedia, InkSeine – better Tablet PC interface, Task Market - an online marketplace where businesses can connect.
If you would like to share your comments or ideas with Office Labs team – you can do it online – just sign in for account!
I have just one, small, objection to the whole story: “Hey people, please use Silverlight Streaming instead Flesh supported SoapBox J”, otherwise, good work people!