Every couple years we run an event outside of Microsoft’s campus called D.C. Tech Fair which is a public extension of "Tech Fair” – the showcase where Microsoft Research talks & demonstrates the work that it’s doing.
A WORD ABOUT MICROSOFT RESEARCH
Microsoft Research (MSR) is VERY DIFFERENT from almost every other R&D organization in the world. It’s focus is on basic research – not product research. This is a very ambitious endeavor requiring a lot of funding however it makes Microsoft one of only a few companies with basic research labs in the world.
What’s the difference? In a nutshell, MSR’s goal is to raise the state of the art of a given field of research in the world – period. It’s not to horde information as proprietary IP, nor is it done specifically to “make a given Microsoft product better”, although that is sometimes the outcome. The investment is in our people’s knowledge & expertise in a given field of science and to collaborate with the best minds in the world – at universities & even at with our competitors – to raise the level of understanding worldwide. (A frequent collaborator for instance is IBM)
Why do we use a good chunk of the $10B we spend annually on R&D on basic research? We do this because Microsoft will often turn to MSR for answers to random, unpredicted, and often extremely urgent problems. I talked to Rick Rashid, our Chief Research Officer, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for & he said essentially that Microsoft is an incredibly complex & we really don’t know the questions that will be answered in the future, so we prepare for everything by learning as much as we can with the assistance of the greatest minds both inside & outside of Microsoft in a field of study.
There are of course very practical and innovate uses for what is learned and some of this was put on display at D.C. Tech Fair:
It’s not often that people get a chance to peek into the future, but that will be the case May 21 in Washington, D.C., when Microsoft Research hosts its biennial D.C. TechFair.
During an afternoon open house held at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in downtown Washington, customers, academia, and governmental officials will get an opportunity to explore the trends and technologies Microsoft Research expects to change the face of computing.
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