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Does anything from MS Research ever get shipped?

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  • User profile image
    Rossj

    With all the discussion about Pex, and its unavailability I got to wondering how much stuff makes it out of MSR *as a product*?

    I've no doubt that a lot of discrete technology pieces are used in other products, but I am more interested in MSR spawned products.

    Edit: Changed title to be more controversial


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    JohnAskew

    I don't know what all the fuss is about "Pex are for kids".

    Blowdart knows how to bribe stuff out, but other than that, it's all smoke and mirrors.
    :O

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    cheong

    I think some of the algorithms they developed did made their way intergrated in MS products, while some others have been made available for download, but haven't heard a standalone retail one so far...

    Recent Achievement unlocked: Code Avenger Tier 4/6: You see dead program. A lot!
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    eagle

    Wallop shipped and then got sold.

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    Rory

    Rossj wrote:
    With all the discussion about Pex, and its unavailability I got to wondering how much stuff makes it out of MSR *as a product*?

    I've no doubt that a lot of discrete technology pieces are used in other products, but I am more interested in MSR spawned products.

    Edit: Changed title to be more controversial


    I'm going to be writing a post about this very subject, as I walked into TechFest with the same question on my mind (by the by - I did a Pex interview, and I'm going to post it next week).

    The short answer is: No.

    The other short answer is: Yes.

    I learned that, when talking to MSR people, you speak in terms of projects and never products.

    That's all I'm going to say here - in part because I have to leave, but also because I'm going to write much more extensively on it.

    Some features do get shipped, but only after they've bubbled up, and then over, to a product team.

    I'm glad you asked this question. It's an important topic. It's been on my mind all week, and I've just been waiting for the time to write it all down...

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    Rory wrote:
    I learned that, when talking to MSR people, you speak in terms of projects and never products.


    Aye. From what I've pieced from conversations with people on the inside, a lot of the work is stuff like the Product-part of Microsoft needing some high-tech stuff developed and contract it out to MSR. So a lot of MSR's work is reactive rather than proactive.

    At least that's what I've been told, feel free to correct me.

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    TommyCarlier

    F#?

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    Andrew Davey

    Generics in the 2.0 CLR came out of MSR I think. http://research.microsoft.com/~akenn/generics/FormalizationOfGenerics.pdf
    Not a product per-se I know, but still an absolute killer programming feature.

    To be honest research does need to be releasing products. The whole idea is that they do all the hard discovery and then pass the knowledge onto a product team. You would not want to waste a bunch of PhDs' time by making them write unit tests and documentation. So much more than just code goes into releasing a software product. We often talk about "the right tool for the right job" - MSR is the right tool for research.

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    Rossj

    Andrew Davey wrote:
    

    Generics in the 2.0 CLR came out of MSR I think. http://research.microsoft.com/~akenn/generics/FormalizationOfGenerics.pdf
    Not a product per-se I know, but still an absolute killer programming feature.


    I agree it is certainly neat, but I would stop short of using the word killer when discussing it.


    Andrew Davey wrote:
    
    To be honest research does need to be releasing products. The whole idea is that they do all the hard discovery and then pass the knowledge onto a product team. You would not want to waste a bunch of PhDs' time by making them write unit tests and documentation.


    Having worked at a spin-off from Xerox Research Europe I know this just plain isn't true.  Sure you don't want all that brainpower actually writing the product, but building a prototype and providing guidance to a team that will do the 'grunt' work certainly is in their remit.  Commerical researchers *cannot* work in a ivory tower, if they want that then they should be back in Academia - their purpose is to discover new technologies from which Microsoft can make money. Unfortunately neither Microsoft's or Xerox's Research teams are researching for the good of humanity - and if they build prototypes and they *never* make it to a product team and then production how are they justifying their funding? 

    Hence my question ... maybe I should rephrase it to 'Do MSR do enough to justify their funding?'
     

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    dahat

    Comega became Linq.

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    kevinsch

    Stuff that got its start in MSR ships in products all the time.

    Most of it isn't "new products" per se. MSR really isn't in the business of creating new products. MSR's business is to broadly advance technology by solving hard problems and then to work with MS's product groups to get those technologies into customers' hands. So it's a broad technology investment, not an investment in specific products.

    That said, occasionally MSR does incubate a new product. Tablet PC came out of MSR. As did SPOT. A lot of the company's early interactive TV work was also done in MSR. There are a handful of other examples, and we have a couple of other incubation projects in the works that may one day be introduced as new products.

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