Steve Ballmer may regard Microsoft’s robotics efforts as merely cute, but the team continues to beaver on and today announced the general availability of Microsoft Robotics Developer 2008:
At the RoboDevelopment Conference and Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., Microsoft Corp. today announced the general availability of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 (Microsoft RDS), the newest version of its robotics programming platform. Microsoft RDS includes a simple programming model to support building asynchronous applications, a set of visual authoring and simulation tools to aid in application development, and tutorials and sample code to help developers get started.
This is Microsoft’s third major release of Microsoft RDS and builds upon its previous versions, which have received support throughout the robotics community, from students to researchers and commercial developers. More than 250,000 copies of Microsoft RDS have been downloaded and more than 60 hardware and software companies support or use the platform as a part of their products.
Hit the link for a list of enhancements in the new version, but the bigger news is likely in the licensing terms:
The new release also offers improved licensing options by replacing its formal noncommercial and commercial licenses with three editions: a Standard Edition for professional developers, an Academic Edition for students and educational researchers, and an Express Edition for hobbyists and casual users. While with previous versions, the user was allowed to distribute only 200 copies of the Concurrency and Coordination Runtime (CCR) and Decentralized Software Services (DSS) runtimes, each license of the new Standard and Academic editions permits the user to distribute an unlimited number of copies of the CCR and DSS runtimes. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Standard Edition is available for $499.95 (U.S.) and is available at http://www.microsoft.com/robotics, or from Microsoft’s Volume Licensing program starting in February 2009.
Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Express Edition is free and downloadable at the same site, while the Academic Edition is the same as the Standard Edition, but subject to academic usage restrictions and distributed through Microsoft’s academic channels.
Microsoft today launched Robotics Studio 1.5 adding support for Windows Embedded CE 6.0 and Windows Mobile 6, “which allows developers to more easily deploy advanced scenarios and software applications on embedded platforms of a wider variety and lower cost.” Among other enhancements were:
… improvements to its visual programming language and 3-D real-world-physics-based visual simulation environment, built on the AGEIA Technologies Inc.-based PhysX engine. New services have also been added, including support for vision and speech recognition, expanded documentation and a new editor that makes it easier to configure and target software services for robotics platforms.
Robotics Studio 1.5 is free and available for download here. A variety of marketing programs were announced as well.
Microsoft: “We’re in it to win!” (with Windows Live):
We can’t disclose a lot of what we saw [or even if we saw anything at all] at the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Global Summit [isn't that a typical Microsoft name?]. However, consistently we heard that Microsoft at all levels are committed to win. Both Steven [not Steve] Sinofsky and Chris Jones were very aggressive about driving that in, regardless of what’s happened in the past.
The Internet industry is such a fast, always changing field that Microsoft’s management is attempting to morph with it. They’ve realized that the first wave of Windows Live was a little rocky, but they’re learning from it for wave 2.
Ideas are going to be well developed inside the company before pushing them out to the public, where confusion can become rampant as we’ve seen. There’s going to be a clear distinction between what’s a Windows Live product and what’s an MSN product, as well as what’s a beta product, or a technical preview product.
Offhand, I’d say that public confusion was purely a reflection of internal Microsoft confusion.
While many investors have knocked Microsoft for not moving as quickly as Google, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggested that his chief rival may be trying to grow too fast.
Microsoft took nearly three decades to grow to 75,000 people, while Google has become a very large company in a fraction of that time.
“They are trying to double in a year,” Ballmer told a crowd of Stanford Graduate School of Business students on Thursday. “That’s insane in my opinion.”
But, he added, “it doesn’t mean they won’t do it well.”
There are advantages to the deliberate management structure that Microsoft has put in place, he said, adding that he isn’t sure anyone has proven “that a random collection of people doing their own thing” has created value.
Fair enough point, although a large collection of people led by bureaucrats usually don’t fare much better.
As in the past, he characterized Google as a one-trick pony, playing down the company’s efforts beyond search.
“They do a lot of cute things,” Ballmer said, to huge laughs from the business students.
“We do a lot of cute things too,” he said. “We have a robotics effort.”
Hard cheese for the robotics folks, I guess.
And last but not least, Microsoft: OneCare should not have been rolled out:
Microsoft has said that its OneCare security suite has “a problem” with the underlying antivirus code, and admitted that security is just “a little part of Microsoft”.
Speaking to ZDNet UK exclusively at the CeBIT show in Hanover, a senior manager for the software giant said that its consumer security product is far from perfect and that pieces are actually “missing”.
Skipping the litany of OneCare problems including dining on email, we cut to the chase:
Asked about these problems, Arno Edelmann, Microsoft’s European business security product manager, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the code itself has pieces missing.
“Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products. It’s not a bad product, but bits and pieces are missing,” said Edelmann.
The problem lies with a core technology of OneCare, the GeCAD antivirus code, and how it interacts with Microsoft mailservers. According to Edelmann, the Microsoft updates and mailserver infrastructure do not harmonise.
“It’s a problem with the updates, and it’s a problem with the implementation,” said Edelmann.
If mail is received from a server running Exchange 2007, users are unlikely to encounter problems. However, if mail is received from servers running Exchange 2000 or 2003, the likelihood of quarantining is high, said Edelmann.
“OneCare is a new product — they shouldn’t have rolled it out when they did, but they’re fixing the problems now,” said Edelmann.
According to the security manager, security is only a small part of what Microsoft does, suggesting it does not have as much security expertise as established security vendors.
One suspects that Mr. Edelmann is in for quite a tongue lashing when he gets back to HQ.
Among the many remarkable innovations emerging out of the robotics industry, from surveillance robots that can defuse roadside bombs to robotic arms that perform surgeries, one persistent challenge has been the lack of a common development platform that would allow developers to easily create robotic applications for varied hardware platforms. Today, Microsoft Corp. is closing this gap with the release of Microsoft® Robotics Studio, a new Windows®-based development environment for creating robotic software for a wide variety of hardware platforms. Microsoft also introduced a new third-party partner program featuring Microsoft Robotics Studio-enabled applications, services and robots from independent software vendors, service providers, hardware component vendors and robot manufacturers. Already more than 30 third-party companies have pledged support for the new robotics development and runtime platform, which is available for download and evaluation at http://microsoft.com/robotics.
With Microsoft Robotics Studio, robotics applications can be developed using a selection of programming languages, including those in Microsoft Visual Studio® and Microsoft Visual Studio Express languages (Visual C#® and Visual Basic®), which are free to download, as well as Microsoft IronPython. Third-party languages that support the Microsoft Robotics Studio services-based architecture are also supported.
For hobbyists, students and academics, Microsoft Robotics Studio is available to license free of charge. Commercial robot developers interested in generating revenue from applications, services and robots based on Microsoft Robotics Studio can license the development platform starting at $399. Full licensing details are available at the Microsoft Robotics Studio Web site.
Microsoft Robotics Studio is now compatible with applications, services and robots from the following companies: CoroWare Inc., fischertechnik, iRobot, KUKA Robot Group, Larsen & Toubro InfoTech Ltd., the LEGO Group, Lynxmotion Inc., Parallax Inc., Phidgets Inc., RoboDynamics Corp., Robosoft, RoboticsConnection, Senseta, Sharp Logic, Surveyor and WhiteBox Robotics Inc. In addition, many leading companies from around the world have joined the Microsoft Robotics Studio Partner Program with plans to ship compatible applications, services and robots in the future. They include Braintech Inc., Camelot Robotics ApS, Cerebellum, ED Co. Ltd., Graupner, Hanulkid Co. Ltd., InTouch Health, JADI Inc., LG CNS, MicroInfinity, Mostitech Inc., RE2 Inc., RidgeSoft LLC, Robo3, SRI, VIA Technologies Inc. and Yujin Robot.