January 26, 2006
@ 06:54 PM

From the press release Microsoft Expands Internet Research Efforts With Founding of Live Labs we learn

REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 25, 2006 —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.

"Live Labs is a fantastic alliance between some of the best engineering and scientific talent in the world. It will be the pre-eminent applied research laboratory for Internet technologies," Flake said. “This is a very exciting opportunity for researchers and technologists to have an immediate impact on the next evolution of Microsoft's Internet products and services and will help unify our customers' digital world so they can easily find information, pursue their interests and enrich their lives."

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. Ozzie sees Live Labs as an agile environment for fast-tracking research from the lab into people’s hands. "Live Labs is taking an exciting approach that is both organic and consumer-driven," Ozzie said. "Within the context of a broad range of rich usage scenarios for Windows Live, the labs will explore new ways of bringing content, commerce and community to the Internet."

You can check out the site at http://labs.live.com/. It's unclear to me why we felt we had to apply the "Live" brand to what seems to be a subsection of http://research.microsoft.com/. I guess "Live" is going to be the new ".NET" and before the end of the year everything at Microsoft will have a "Live" version.



Thursday, January 26, 2006 8:09:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Seems like it. The "Live" brand may not be abandoned as I predicted, but it looks like it is well on its way to becoming meaningless.
Thursday, January 26, 2006 9:28:43 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
My take- Microsoft is trying to turn research into an asset that not only produces value for product groups but also gives customers confidence that Microsoft is going to produce exciting products that will make an impact in their lives. Nothing wrong with this.

Dare- we debated this online three years ago when you said that you see no value in MSR. I take that's still your sentiment?
Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:02:28 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
My opinion hasn't changed. I still think MSR provides little value to most product teams at Microsoft. In some cases such as with the MSN Search team, there are close relationships that lead to MSR innovations ending up in shipping products but that is often the exception not the rule.

However I don't see what that has to do with the point of my post; coming up with "Microsoft Research LIVE!!!" dilutes the nascent "Live" brand the same way appending ".NET" to every Microsoft product a few years ago diluted the ".NET" brand.
Friday, January 27, 2006 9:56:16 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
...and remember "Active" before that? Remember activex.org?
Friday, January 27, 2006 9:32:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

The live labs (with which I am not affiliated) is not a subset of MSR. It's a separate organization that will be managed more by MSN (aka "Windows Live") than by MSR. Gary Flake, who is not an MSR employee, will head it, and the focus will be significantly more applied. The "live" label in this context is to specifically acknowledge that this is an integral part of *your* organization, and while part of it will be housed at MSR, it's definitely not an MSR initiative.

In terms of things in MSR having an impact on the rest of the company, I don't think you have a very big picture view of that. There are significant components of underlying technology in a variety of areas beyond search (from compilers to imaging to anti-spam to hardware) that have migrated from MSR to products. Just because you don't see it being advertised doesn't mean it isn't happening. By not tying MSR projects to specific product development, Microsoft allows for more innovation within the research group, which eventually does come back to products. It's just not driven by the product cycle--which, in my opinion, is a good thing.
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