Friday, June 20, 2008

Microsoft Keeps on Innovating

One reason why Microsoft innovates time and time again is because it invests a lot of capital in its R&D teams. I came across this article this morning in my Google reader from Digitimes that discusses Microsoft’s latest announcement that it will be opening up an innovation center in Taiwan. This center will focus heavily on next-gen web applications and software engineering.

This center will house a team of 100 members, most of who come from Microsoft’s Chinese R&D team. I’d like to see some examples of other companies out there who realize the benefits of allocating more money towards its new product development teams.

6 comments:

Adnan Algrigri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
paul said...

> "Microsoft Keeps on Innovating" -- please tell me this is tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. It's not a true article right? Microsoft innovate?

Anonymous said...

Oh come on... You're just trolling right?

Recently MS has done:
- WPF (probably the most advanced API to build GUI today, shipped with .NET 3.0)
- LINQ (Language INtegrated Query, shipped with .NET 3.5)
- DLR (Dynamic Language Runtime, an effort to create a common platform for all dynamic languages like Python, Ruby, ...)
- Photosynth (an impressive effort to automatically place and browse photos in 3D space according to where the shots were taken)
- Volta (quite complicated but in just a few words: a recompiler to program with the .NET infrastructure and produce HTML/JScript applications)
- SeaDragon (technology behind Silverlight 2 and Photosynth to seamlessly zoom into GigaPixels images)
- Surface (a multitouch display)

I don't even mention things were you could say Microsoft isn't "innovating" like Silverlight, although this clearly is R&D money very well spent. Or that MS has IMHO the best dev tools out there.

Anonymous said...

BTW my post was an answer to Adnan Algrigri, I don't why he removed his comment.

Anonymous said...

Recently MS has done:
- WPF (probably the most advanced API to build GUI today, shipped with .NET 3.0)

they copied from XUL. look it up.

- DLR (Dynamic Language Runtime, an effort to create a common platform for all dynamic languages like Python, Ruby, ...)

not really "innovative". its an obvious evolution of the da vinci machine.

- Photosynth (an impressive effort to automatically place and browse photos in 3D space according to where the shots were taken)

seadragon (the startup) made this using their own r&d. microsoft just bought them out.

- Volta (quite complicated but in just a few words: a recompiler to program with the .NET infrastructure and produce HTML/JScript applications)

see gwt among several others where you can code in your preferred language to create a html/jscript frontend.

- SeaDragon (technology behind Silverlight 2 and Photosynth to seamlessly zoom into GigaPixels images)

seadragon is the startup acquired by microsoft. not microsoft r&d.

- Surface (a multitouch display)

need i say apple multitouch?

Anonymous said...

WPF copied from XUL?!
This proves you're bashing without knowing much. When MS first announced its (at the time) WinFX project many people argued that they were re-creating standards like SVN or XUL. But WPF is not XAML! XAML is just a way to program in a declarative fashion (which is similar to XUL). But WPF is so much more than that! Maybe I don't know XUL well enough (so please correct my mistaken assumptions) but WPF seems so much more than XUL to me.
Does XUL support/provide hardware accelerated pixel effects on arbitrary elements (including fully functionnal textboxes or other controls)? (HW pixel effects are coming in .NET 3.5 SP1 in case you want to look it up)
Does XUL support an hardware accelerated vector stack, providing arbitrary transformations on any element and animations?
Does XUL support data programming well? E.g., does it provide a two-way databinding mechanism or custom element rendering based upon a data trigger?
I am not going to write more about this. There are tons of documentation on the web about WPF, if you want to learn more you can dig it up. In my opinion it's the most advanced GUI API today; I would love to learn any good alternative but honestly I haven't seen any better one yet.

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DLR is not innovative? I agree you may say so. But most of computer science is an evolution of previous ideas. Google is rumored to be working on a similar initiative... I'd say MS did the first R&D effort for this one.

Just out of curiosity: it's easy to bash everything that a company creates. If MS is not innovating and DLR is just "evolution"; What would be, in your opinion, the 8 last true "big innovations" in computer science?

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Seadragon
Indeed this initially stem from a start-up bought by MS. But the company didn't have any product, just interesting tech. MS invested lots of money on the tech, modified it, and integrated it into a mobile web browser (DeepFish), a platform (Silverlight 2) and a new application (Photosynth). This is R&D effort from MS, whatever you say.

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Photosynth
Sorry, but Seadragon is a technology to efficiently stream big images. Photosynth uses this, but is about something totally different. Photosynth matches a collection of photos together and place them in 3D space where they were taken. It was developped by MS Research and a few universities.

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Volta / GWT
Indeed the two are very similar. Often innovation happens simultaneously at several places at the same time (more or less). That's because, given the current state of technology, its evolution is "in the air".
As I said previously, Google is also rumored to be working on something similar to the DLR...

Another example, which I didn't mention previously, is parallel computing. Everyone is looking in that direction and tries to come up with efficient ways to use the multicores machines. MS is working on quite interesting Parallel extensions for .NET (PFX), Intel works on similar librairies...

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Surface
Yeah, multitouch is not at all something MS invented. I was mentionning Surface because MS is trying to bring into mainstream a new device, a new form-factor, which could change the way we interact with some specific shops... To be fair I am not really into this project, but technology changes quickly. Maybe in 20 years such devices will be as common as a public phone, probably not. Who knows?



BTW I don't want to argue endlessly. I just think that one cannot fairly say MS is not innovating at all, as Adnan and Paul did. That's just trolling.

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