One thing Microsoft does WAY better than Google: Research

First, a little one-minute note from my editor. I’m giving Marc Canter what he wants. More, shorter, pieces.

Second, you get a choice — this is of the Microsoft Research TechFest, which my camera got a personal tour around. The full one-hour tour (actually, only half the tour, the second hour — and more “Editor’s Choice” clips will be up tomorrow).

Or, if the full hour is too long, go for a short version, which includes just the coolest stuff. First short version is here (12 minutes). Second short version is here (16 minutes).

Either way, THANK YOU VERY MUCH to everyone at Microsoft who made this tour possible. Especially Kevin Schofield, who showed me around the floor (he’s the guy you see throughout the video).

Kevin is the guy responsible for moving technology from Research into the product teams, so he seems to know everyone working on Research and what’s cool about it. This is the first tape. It’s about an hour long, but you’ll meet some really great technologists who are doing some eye popping research. If you can’t handle the long version (a second one will come up in a few days) we’ve picked a few of the cooler parts and will put those out shortly.

What will you see?

  1. 2:11: VIBE group shows off synchronizing via mobile phone research
  2. 10:09: Andy Wilson shows off a cool set of apps that use video cameras in a new way (don’t miss this, it rocks!)
  3. 19:50: Daniel Robbins shows off a new “tap UI” for phones.
  4. 23:35: Matt Uyttendaele shows off HUGE (4 gigapixel or so) photos with a killer “tiling” system that displays them wicked fast.
  5. 29:52: Linking the real world to the Web with pictures (killer camera phone research).
  6. 34:04: Speech recognition for podcasts.
  7. 36:50: Frank Seide shows video exploration and discovery for Media Center PCs.
  8. 45:31: Richard Harper demonstrates a bunch of hardware concepts and trials for home users.
  9. 52:00: Vibhore Goyal shows using SMS to blogging and research in India.
  10. 54:25: Rajesh Veeraraghavan is doing research with farmers in India to find better education systems for them.

If you only want to watch one thing, don’t miss Andy Wilson. His stuff is so freaking cool. His demos are in this short video.

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119 thoughts on “One thing Microsoft does WAY better than Google: Research

  1. I’d just like to say that comparing PARC to MSR is a little bull%^&*, in PARC’s day the idea of a mouse was “groundbreaking.” Due to the amount of technology already existing and general cynicism the bar for “groundbreaking” is far higher.

  2. I’d just like to say that comparing PARC to MSR is a little bull%^&*, in PARC’s day the idea of a mouse was “groundbreaking.” Due to the amount of technology already existing and general cynicism the bar for “groundbreaking” is far higher.

  3. I know that MSR is funded with Billions of dollars (anyone know the total budget since the beginning?) and I have not seen much on the market on a cost/benifit case. I am not impressed as I would expect cool things from them based on the dollars and effort.

  4. I know that MSR is funded with Billions of dollars (anyone know the total budget since the beginning?) and I have not seen much on the market on a cost/benifit case. I am not impressed as I would expect cool things from them based on the dollars and effort.

  5. A note to Kevin. First of all I have read the papers and and I know the fields that I mentioned out of your long list.

    My point was really abot the originality of the work coming out MSR in these 2 areas. For instance, it is well accepted that the work of Srivastava and Eustace on ATOM is a very simple and original idea in a field that had existed for a while. At MSR this was simply applied. No real advances on ideas underlying the original work were reported from the papers I have seen from MSR. So one can view this as the proper completion of a research program started by the authors, and yes that is a valid research method, and worthwhile. However a research lab must be judged also by the contribution to the science as well and that is what I was saying.

    I understand what you are saying, and you dont seem to be denying what I claimed. We just dont agree on how a research lab ought to be judged.

    If I may end on a hopeful and positive note, I’d like to see MSR work on long term problems that will contribute more to sciences and society, like some of the work that theory group is doing.

  6. A note to Kevin. First of all I have read the papers and and I know the fields that I mentioned out of your long list.

    My point was really abot the originality of the work coming out MSR in these 2 areas. For instance, it is well accepted that the work of Srivastava and Eustace on ATOM is a very simple and original idea in a field that had existed for a while. At MSR this was simply applied. No real advances on ideas underlying the original work were reported from the papers I have seen from MSR. So one can view this as the proper completion of a research program started by the authors, and yes that is a valid research method, and worthwhile. However a research lab must be judged also by the contribution to the science as well and that is what I was saying.

    I understand what you are saying, and you dont seem to be denying what I claimed. We just dont agree on how a research lab ought to be judged.

    If I may end on a hopeful and positive note, I’d like to see MSR work on long term problems that will contribute more to sciences and society, like some of the work that theory group is doing.

  7. A comment back to Alex and Jimmy: read the papers before you pass judgment.

    Every single thing I listed is a place where a new direction was founded and papers were published on it. If you want to make up some unattainable or moving target definition of “groundbreaking” so that MSR can’t possibly match it, fine. But talk to the people who work in these researchers’ domains, and they will all tell you that this is groundbreaking work.

    Cardelli and Peyton-Jones did groundbreaking functional programming work before they joined MSR, and they did lots more once they got to MSR.

    Srivastava et al started the code-rearrangement work before they got to MSR, but they made it scale and work on real production code at MSR. And that’s the important part.

    And no one tells our researchers what to work on; they pick their own projects. No one forces them to participate in Techfest; they all volunteer. And of course I strongly disagree with the notion that they are wasting their talent; they are all using it to great benefit.

    And just a final thought: if you’re measuring a research lab on the number of “groundbreaking breakthroughts,” then you simply don’t understand how research is done. 99% of all research is incremental, building upon great work that came before and taking it to the next step. You measure a research lab by whether it’s advancing the state of the art, getting those advances into commercial products, and overall on the impact that it’s having.

  8. A comment back to Alex and Jimmy: read the papers before you pass judgment.

    Every single thing I listed is a place where a new direction was founded and papers were published on it. If you want to make up some unattainable or moving target definition of “groundbreaking” so that MSR can’t possibly match it, fine. But talk to the people who work in these researchers’ domains, and they will all tell you that this is groundbreaking work.

    Cardelli and Peyton-Jones did groundbreaking functional programming work before they joined MSR, and they did lots more once they got to MSR.

    Srivastava et al started the code-rearrangement work before they got to MSR, but they made it scale and work on real production code at MSR. And that’s the important part.

    And no one tells our researchers what to work on; they pick their own projects. No one forces them to participate in Techfest; they all volunteer. And of course I strongly disagree with the notion that they are wasting their talent; they are all using it to great benefit.

    And just a final thought: if you’re measuring a research lab on the number of “groundbreaking breakthroughts,” then you simply don’t understand how research is done. 99% of all research is incremental, building upon great work that came before and taking it to the next step. You measure a research lab by whether it’s advancing the state of the art, getting those advances into commercial products, and overall on the impact that it’s having.

  9. LOL @ Welch and Guiness trying to get the last word in their pissing contest!

    But it’s getting boring now. Both of you should just let it go.

    As for Scoble not talking about things like AD or MMC, it’s because he knows nothing about them. Scoble is into gadgets and web services. He’s not technically knowledgeable to go beyond that, nor does he pretend to be. (He’s not technically knowledgeable about the areas he *does* cover either, but that’s another story. :p)

  10. LOL @ Welch and Guiness trying to get the last word in their pissing contest!

    But it’s getting boring now. Both of you should just let it go.

    As for Scoble not talking about things like AD or MMC, it’s because he knows nothing about them. Scoble is into gadgets and web services. He’s not technically knowledgeable to go beyond that, nor does he pretend to be. (He’s not technically knowledgeable about the areas he *does* cover either, but that’s another story. :p)

  11. Right. See, he talks about Microsoft outside of the areas that I like them for. So by definition, (unless i REALLY wanted to hijack things), since he only talks about Microsoft in the areas that I’m down on them about, well, my opinions of them are going to be negative.

    Funny how context and looking at the larger picture changes things. Well, not for Guiness(sic), because face it, he’s just in it for the crusadin’.

  12. Right. See, he talks about Microsoft outside of the areas that I like them for. So by definition, (unless i REALLY wanted to hijack things), since he only talks about Microsoft in the areas that I’m down on them about, well, my opinions of them are going to be negative.

    Funny how context and looking at the larger picture changes things. Well, not for Guiness(sic), because face it, he’s just in it for the crusadin’.

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