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January 26, 2006

Microsoft Launches Live Labs and Search Labs

Posted by David Hunter at 12:54 PM ET.

Press release:

Microsoft Corp. today announced the formation of Microsoft® Live Labs, a research partnership between MSN® and Microsoft Research. Under the leadership of Dr. Gary William Flake, noted industry technologist and Microsoft technical fellow, Live Labs will consist of a dedicated group of researchers from MSN and Microsoft Research that will work with researchers across Microsoft and the academic research community. Live Labs will provide consistency in vision, leadership and infrastructure as well as a nimble applied research environment that fosters rapid innovations.

The Live Labs — a confederation of dedicated technologists and affiliated researchers in pre-existing projects from around Microsoft — will focus on Internet-centric applied research programs including rapidly prototyping and launching of emerging technologies, incubating entirely new inventions, and improving and accelerating Windows Live™ offerings. This complements the company’s continuing deep investment in basic research at Microsoft Research and product development at MSN.

Ray Ozzie, Craig Mundie and David Vaskevitch, Microsoft’s chief technical officers, will serve as the Live Labs Advisory Board.

That makes it sound like a reorganization and rebranding of existing projects with an emphasis on Windows Live ad tech work. But there’s a strong academic flavor too:

Because strong academic engagement with the research community is fundamental to the lab’s overall goals, Live Labs’ scientists and technologists are encouraged to actively and openly engage with the academic research community and publish their research findings.

Beyond collaboration, Live Labs will extend Microsoft’s existing engagement with the external academic research community through new opportunities for grants, sabbaticals, internships and fellowships. As one example, Live Labs announced today that a total of $500,000 (U.S.) is being made available through a new request for proposals to further encourage academic research in areas such as data mining, discovery and analysis as they relate to Internet search.

Ina Fried at CNET provides more background and an interview with Flake (who formerly worked at Yahoo) including:

The Internet, he said, allows both science and product development to be ongoing.

“It’s a much more continuous process,” said Flake, who also worked previously for Siemens Corporate Research and NEC Research Institute.

Although Microsoft is positioning the move as a way to improve society as a whole, the company has also said it will tap its research units to help it catch up to or leapfrog rivals such as Yahoo and Google.

“To the extent this helps us in any sort of competition, that’s great, but that’s actually a side effect,” Flake said. “It’s a happy side effect, nonetheless.”

Apparently it’s supposed to be both basic research and ad tech product development at the same time, which is often said, but seldom done. Time will tell which this really is.

Also announced in the press release was Search Labs:

Microsoft also announced the hiring of Dr. Ashok Chandra, a notable industry and academic researcher, as general manager of Search Labs, a new organization devoted to innovation and incubation that will be closely aligned with Live Labs. Search Labs will be stationed in Redmond and at the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, Calif. Search Labs will focus on areas such as personalization, socialization and improved user experiences while maintaining strict regard for user privacy. In addition, Chandra’s teams will build technologies for data mining, vertical industries and parametric capabilities to go beyond the search bar experience.

Filed under Craig Mundie, David Vaskevitch, MSN, MSN Search, Microsoft Research, Ray Ozzie, Windows Live

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3 Responses to “Microsoft Launches Live Labs and Search Labs”

  1. Microsoft News Tracker » Microsoft acquires Seadragon Software Says:

    [...] At the MSN Search Champs event last week, both Dan Farber and Alex Barnett report that it was announced (somewhat informally by Gary Flake, the new head of Microsoft Live Labs) that Microsoft had acquired Seadragon Software. Kim Peterson at the Seattle Times has the details: Microsoft is acquiring Seadragon Software, a Seattle-based company developing technologies that could be used across several of the software giant’s businesses, including Web search, cellphone services, mapping and digital-photo programs. [...]

  2. Microsoft rearranges Windows Vista executives -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Elizabeth Montalbano has all the details at InfoWorld, and here’s the big news: Brian Valentine, senior vice president of the Windows Core Operating System Division (COSD), will transition to a new role in the company once Vista is complete. … Also effective now, Jon DeVaan has joined the Platforms and Services Division as senior vice president of engineering, sharing co-leadership of the COSD with Valentine. DeVaan will drive Windows OS development and cross-platform integration, as well as work on products and services that will follow Windows Vista once Valentine leaves the division. Also “Dave Cutler, a senior technical fellow, and Amitabh Srivastava, corporate vice president of COSD” will leave after Vista ships to work for Ray Ozzie and Ozzie also “will take over direction” of Live Labs. Filed under OS – Client, Windows Vista, Executives, Ray Ozzie, Microsoft, Brian Valentine   [Permalink] [...]

  3. Microsoft snags IBM data mining pioneer for Search Labs -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Agrawal and his team began devising algorithms for asking open-ended queries, eventually authoring a 1993 paper describing data mining. The paper has been cited in more than 650 other studies, making it one of the most widely cited papers of its kind. Microsoft created Search Labs, headed by Dr. Ashok Chandra, in January along with its more publicized sibling, Live Labs. Filed under Coopetition, IBM, Microsoft Research, General Business, Employee Retention, Windows Live, Windows Live Search, Microsoft   [Permalink] [TrackBack] [...]

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