The minds behind Microsoft Research
You might expect Microsoft Research to concern itself with the next version of Office, and you'd be right. But an AIDS vaccine?
Computerworld - There's a joke at Microsoft Research that designing the next version of Microsoft Office is like ordering pizza for 100 million people. No matter how you do it, a few million of them are going to complain.
But Microsoft Research (MSR) General Manager Kevin Schofield shrugs off the difficulty of designing technology for mass markets. "It's our job to understand user differences," he says.
Microsoft Research (MSR) General Manager Kevin Schofield
Indeed, the scope of activities within MSR is stunning. A lot of the research is what you might expect, with computer scientists dreaming up a new widget for mobile communication, a new search algorithm aimed at topping Google or some new way to make Windows more secure. But MSR also engages in long-term fundamental research that might never produce revenue.
For example, it is working with several medical labs on the application of pattern-matching algorithms -- which it developed to recognize spam -- to the design of AIDS vaccines. "The reason that HIV is so resistant to our immune system is because it gets in a host and throws off many new mutations, so your body can't get a good, robust immunity to it," Schofield says. That's the sort of strategy used by spammers. A trial vaccine based on Microsoft's algorithms has just begun in vitro testing.
Tortoise or Hare?
Critics have said that Microsoft has been slow to respond to competition, such as open-source alternatives to its products and to upstart companies like Google. But Schofield says the company's huge research resources give it extraordinary agility. He says Microsoft, as a matter of policy, won't bid on government research projects -- such as those funded by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- because they would tend to lock the company into a slow pace of research in certain areas. (He concedes that Microsoft doesn't need the money.)
As an example of Microsoft's agility, Schofield points to the company's development of its Web search engine, MSN Search. Two years ago, Microsoft outsourced search to Inktomi Corp., but it concluded that to survive against the likes of Google and Yahoo, it had to build its own search engine.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Government Agency Webifies Outdated COBOL Applications Let this CTO tell you how his agency converted 1980s-era green screens into an e-filing portal for the 100,000 cases handled each year...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the... All Applications White Papers | Webcasts