Minds of Microsoft

You might expect Microsoft Research to concern itself with the next version of Office, and you'd be right. But an AIDS vaccine?

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"CSE tools and processes are used by product groups throughout Microsoft, including Windows, Office, SQL Server, Exchange and Xbox," Ling says. "CSE tools are playing an essential role in the development of Vista, the next generation of Windows, the most reliable and secure version ever."

Now, Ling says, MSR's quality and productivity specialists have turned their attention to the challenges of writing code for multicore processor chips. "We are trying to come up with ways to write parallel programs really efficiently, so it isn't so error-prone and difficult," he says. The results will be used internally but will one day end up in Microsoft's Visual Studio development tools, he says.

Even Cell Phones Get the Blues

If the programmability of multicore chips is at one end of Microsoft's research complexity scale, the Blue Rendezvous project may be at the other. Imagine two colleagues a few feet apart and armed with Bluetooth smart phones. You press the same button at the same time, and the phones establish an instant link through which you can exchange business cards or other contacts, documents or photos.

"The hoops you have to jump through to get devices to talk to each other -- what's your encryption key, what's this, what's that? -- it's practically impossible," says researcher Ken Hinckley. "This makes it really easy for users to do."

He concedes that a tool for swapping business cards is unlikely to ever be a killer app, but he says Blue Rendezvous represents the first research step toward easier and better interdevice wireless communication. "Let's say you are in a conference room and there's some information you want to share -- maybe a syllabus that didn't get e-mailed to attendees," Hinckley says. "You could use this same technology between laptops to create a virtual pool that you just throw information into, and it just goes away when the laptops aren't near each other anymore."

Fellow researcher Raman Sarin sees the importance of this work even more broadly. "I always get suspicious when people talk about wireless technology, because it's defined by what it's not," he says. "It's something completely new that we haven't figured out yet. We feel like we are sticking our big toe in the pool of possibilities, of interesting ways to combine devices."

Wired Network

Source: Microsoft Corp.

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SOME OF MICROSOFT'S RESEARCH GROUPS
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Adaptive Systems and Interaction

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Advanced Compiler Technology

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Algorithms and Theory

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Communication and

Collaboration Systems

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Community Technologies

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Cryptography and

Antipiracy

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Cybersecurity and

Systems Management

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Data Management, Exploration and Mining

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Database

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Digital Geographics

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Document Processing

and Understanding

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Foundations of Software Engineering

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Graphics

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Hardware and Communications

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Information Retrieval

and Analysis

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Interactive Visual Media

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Internet Graphics

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Knowledge Tools

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Machine Learning

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Media Computing

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Media Presence

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Multilingual Systems

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Multimodal User Interface

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Natural Language Computing

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Networked Embedded Computing

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Operating Systems

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Programming Languages and Methods

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Programming Principles and Tools

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Runtime Analysis and Design

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Scalable Servers

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Search

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Security and Privacy

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Sensors

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Social Computing

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Software Design and Implementation

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Software Productivity

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Software Reliability

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Speech

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Systems and Performance

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Technology for Emerging Markets

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Testing, Verification and Measurement

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Text Mining Search and Navigation

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Visualization and Interaction

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Visual Computing

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Wireless and Networking

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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