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Inside the Labs At HP, Microsoft and IBM

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-the-retriever-kind dept.

Microsoft 81

alphadogg writes "At Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, investment in research and development is a reflection of corporate culture. This three-part piece by the IDG News Service examines the different approaches taken by each of these influential tech companies. Hewlett-Packard prides itself on its pragmatism, while Microsoft holds the flag of basic research aloft — and IBM continues to file more patent applications, year after year, than any other tech company."

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Research and Development (5, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389398)

If the goal is to create a marketable product, it is DEVELOPMENT, not research.

Research is trying to find basic things that you can use to identify areas to roll into development.

Research SHOULD fail regularly ("fail" in this sense being "did not lead to areas to develop."). If it isn't failing regularly you aren't trying hard enough.

This is the key that too many businesses now-a-days miss.

Re:Research and Development (2, Informative)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390404)

And, what's your point? MS research is doing research. They regularly publish in top conferences in many fields. At least in systems, they're on par with the top US universities in terms of output. Though, unfortunately, they're quite unique in this sense, I believe -- can't think of any other company that does this.

Re:Research and Development (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34390704)

...they're on par with the top US universities in terms of output.

By this, you mean they are "borrowing" top US university research. (eg: Surface)

Re:Research and Development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34393032)

Completely agree. MS teams regularly publish great papers and actively participate in the research/review process.

Yet CS faculty/students still act like they are the devil, makes no sense.

Re:Research and Development (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34401598)

And, funnily enough, that frequently gets them the label of vaporware company. They are, of course, but that is because their marketing are asshats, and has nothing to do with the quality of their research.

Re:Research and Development (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34402732)

Heh, good point. By the same standards, all of academia should have a huge VAPORWARE sticker on it (not that I think there's a problem with that -- I'm complicit, being a graduate student and all)

Re:Research and Development (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34402816)

Academia doesn't start spouting "look what a great tablet we're developing OMGPONIES" two weeks before Apple is rumoured to be presenting the iPad, though.

Re:Research and Development (0)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34391348)

Research SHOULD fail regularly ("fail" in this sense being "did not lead to areas to develop.").

Sometimes, somewhere along that chain, Research SHOULD have failed but somehow hiccuped and still went into development.

And then we got Windows Millenium Edition.

Re:Research and Development (0)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 3 years ago | (#34392594)

Research SHOULD fail regularly ("fail" in this sense being "did not lead to areas to develop.").

Sometimes, somewhere along that chain, Research SHOULD have failed but somehow hiccuped and still went into development.

And then we got Windows Millenium Edition.

No, that's how we got Windows - all of 'em.

Re:Research and Development (0)

RewriteQuran (1943392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34400348)

True scientists celebrate failures.

Microsoft is not eating its own dog food. (0, Troll)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389464)

In that flash laden crap of a site, that has flash overlays creeping up and rejiggering up to be visible even after scrolling, making me wonder how people without noscript/flashblock are really able to surf at all there is this gem in the fourth page: For instance, Microsoft researchers built tools that are helpful in testing very large and complex software, essential to try to guarantee that the code does what it's supposed to, he said.

If Microsoft software is any indication, they are not using it to test their own OS.

Re:Microsoft is not eating its own dog food. (2)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390154)

because everyone knows that all ^nix OS's are completely free of bugs

Re:Microsoft is not eating its own dog food. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34395892)

For instance, Microsoft researchers built tools that are helpful in testing very large and complex software, essential to try to guarantee that the code does what it's supposed to, he said.

He was most likely referring to things such as Pex [microsoft.com] . The problem is that it's for managed code, and a lot (probably most) of Microsoft shipping code is native.

Hmmm... (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389520)

Why do "The Three Stooges" come to mind...

HP prides itself on "Pragmatism" - though their PCs are the worst in the industry on all levels. Their test equipment was absolutely phenomenal - but they chose do dump that.

Microsoft prides itself on "basic research" - which would be great if they were all studying for the PhD's - but has seemed to done this in contrast from the focus of making a responsive, reliable, easy-to-use desktop OS.

IBM..."the most patents"....I don't even want to go there.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389544)

Okay - I *will* go there - "the most patents" - almost as useful as "cleanest rest rooms"...

Re:Hmmm... (1)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389768)

"the most patents" - almost as useful as "cleanest rest rooms"

This is how we keep money flowing in the US economy. Companies pour money into R&D to copy and patent their and other companies' ideas, then the other companies sue the company for infringing on their patents, which in turn build up litigation costs. The victor in court pours the settlement/award money back into R&D and the process starts all over again.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34389980)

Oh yeah? IBM has many thousands of patents, so according to your theory there should be plenty of examples of IBM doing that. Please provide a list of such cases.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390012)

Please learn to appreciate or at least recognize sarcasm when you see it. Kthx.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390590)

Oh yes, that was clearly sarcasm. Don't make it as obvious next time.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

bigtone78 (943249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34391160)

you forgot to close your tag....</sarcasm>...there I did it for you. Wouldn't want you to have a comment that didn't validate.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34392354)

Gee, thanks.

:)

Re:Hmmm... (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389792)

Buzzword advertising.

Ponticac: "we build excitement" (bad brakes, shitty steering)
Ford: "Quality is job 1" (their work's cut out for them)
Chevy: "Like a rock" (damned thing won't start)

Why should the computer industry be any different? If you want to know the worst qualities of any product, look at what they advertise and you'll find it.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389886)

{Laughing out loud!!!} :)

Re:Hmmm... (1)

mounthood (993037) | more than 3 years ago | (#34391120)

Why should the computer industry be any different? If you want to know the worst qualities of any product, look at what they advertise and you'll find it.

Microsoft: the eXPerience, Personal (it was my idea)

Apple: all about the individual

So with Microsoft we get the borg, and with Apple we get DRM?

Re:Hmmm... (2, Funny)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 3 years ago | (#34392688)

Microsoft: all about being eX-Professionals.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34400608)

Actually IBM are the borg, when you start working for them you get the implant. It can take up to a year to get rid of it after you escape!

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34391158)

Toyota: Moving forward (unintended acceleration anybody?)

Re:Hmmm... (3, Interesting)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390216)

IBM's strategy for patents is not for tech discoveries.

Most of them are for business processes. Totally unenforceable.

So why do they do it? It is the ultimate non-competition agreement.

It really only binds the guys who are on the patent so they don't go to another company and take the business process with them.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34393046)

I wouldn't call them "totally unenforceable". While Bilski did make it harder to get them, they are in no way all invalid yet.

Plus, the general licensing strategy is, you go to businesses and say, "Here are 10 patents you may infringe on, and there are 10,000 more where they came from. Do you want to pay up now, or fight this and make us find more in the other 10,000?"

The bigger the "10,000" figure is, the greater your leverage in getting businesses to settle.

Re:Hmmm... (2, Informative)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34397148)

Yet IBM does still patent a shitload of actual discoveries. In fact IBM's research department(which is BTW is not the same as R&D) does research not only in IT related areas - basic applied physics, medical research, energy, etc...

IBM patent quality (5, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389934)

One other thing I think IBM does a good job of is assuring that not only does it obtain a lot of patents, but those patents are generally of high quality, in the sense that they're real innovations that have actual value. IBM provides some significant incentives to employees to encourage patent submission, but those submissions are then vetted by a fairly skeptical evaluation committee before they're turned over to legal. Some crap patents leak through, but they're a tiny minority.

I think one of the best evidences of IBM's success in creating good patents is that IBM earns substantial revenues annually for licensing its patents, and does it without trollish behavior like submarine patents, lots of patent lawsuits, etc. IBM's patent licensees are typically happy to pay the license fees because the patents offer real value, and aren't things that the licensee would likely have independently invented. The result is over a billion dollars annually in patent licensing, which helps to offset a portion of the R&D budget.

Disclosure: I work for IBM, but not in PR and not in research. I also know of plenty of really dumb stuff the company does, but I think this is one area that IBM handles very well.

Re:IBM patent quality (3, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390266)

IBM has some patents that are actual innovations, rather than "hmm, lets patent the fact that water is wet and farts smell" type of crap that is all too common these days:

Take the ZTIC. This is simplicity in itself, but if banks actually used a device like this (handed it out to their customers and made them use it), it would essentially stop bank and credit card fraud cold.

Another item is IBM's hard disk research -- this got us from the megabyte drives to the terabyte drives with GMR and other ways to drastically increase the areal density of HDD platters.

The thing that HP, Microsoft, and IBM do is pave the way for others in the field, and often this is lost on people. It takes someone making a battery technology before someone else can make a device that uses it.

Re:IBM patent quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34390316)

Please buy back the Thinkpad division from lenovo..

Re:IBM patent quality (1)

maitas (98290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34391052)

It's been for a couple of years now that IBM is no longer the company that files more patent request. Finally
China has happenned and Huawei has surpassed IBM in 2008 and 2009.
  Goodbye US, you have been beaten at your own game.

  Hello China !! Or should I said "Nihao"

Re:IBM patent quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34391686)

Hello China !! Or should I said "Nihao"

You've committed the 'asshole' fallacy that assumes only one country can be a historical (or scientific/economic) agent at one time. The US surpassed Europe a century ago, but Siemens, Philips and many other leading companies are still based there and still do wide-ranging, deep research. Economically the US is lager than any European state, but the EU is larger than the US; and, the standard of living there is as high or higher than the USA.

So, don't be a pessimist or triumphalist. That will only make you scared or belligerent. Instead, be moderate and assume what's most reasonable - that, 100 years from now, China may be bigger but the US, Europe, India, Japan, and other places, will all still be participating on the world stage, and their citizens will still be living well.

Re:IBM patent quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34400720)

The reason that IBM dropped the ball as it drove all the staff that created the patents away. And, yes I'm a former IBMer and I hold two patents that were obtained via the IBM process. I was also part of the IBM patent approval process (IRB Innovation Review Board).

Re:IBM patent quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34391356)

Disclosure: I work for IBM, but not in PR and not in research. I also know of plenty of really dumb stuff the company does, but I think this is one area that IBM handles very well.

I laughed out loud when I saw this. IBM invented patent trolling and is considered by many in the tech industry to be the biggest abuser of patents. You would throw up if you sat through a licensing presentation from IBM. A 10 minute google search will reveal that you should stop drinking the Kool Aid.

Disclosure: I'm a lawyer and I don't work for IBM. I've sat through many IBM licensing presentations and consider IBM's patents (outside of the PC architecture space) to be well below the quality of other tech companies. This wouldn't be a problem, except IBM demands license fees from every company in the world--even those that don't make PC products. IBM's licensing discussions typically begin with a comparison of the total number of IBM patents (30k+) to the total number of your patents. IBM takes the difference and multiplies that by $100,000 to arrive at its licensing offer. IBM's licensing enforcers scream and and yell at these meetings and, if you don't agree to pay, will call your boss afterwards to try to get you fired.

Re:IBM patent quality (3, Insightful)

bouldin (828821) | more than 3 years ago | (#34392106)

There is no doubt that IBM has some world-class labs that produce leading research and some amazing technology.

At the same time, IBM makes headlines (and slashdot articles) regularly for stupid patents and stupidly obvious patents. I won't bother linking all of them, but here is one from two months ago: http://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/10/09/15/2235251/IBM-Patents-Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-Movies [slashdot.org]

Remember that when you read about how many patents IBM gains and holds. This is a land grab.

Re:IBM patent quality (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34392576)

I did say that some crappy patents slip through. Still, the fact that you had to go back two months is pretty telling. If IBM patented a stupidly-obvious idea every week, that'd still represent barely 1% of IBM's patent volume. I'd bet that's a better non-obviousness vetting rate than the patent office as a whole achieves. Of course "better than the patent office" isn't saying all that much.

Re:IBM patent quality (1)

bouldin (828821) | more than 3 years ago | (#34392800)

I don't think we have data on how many IBM patents are stupid, so you're guessing at that 1% figure.

Maybe a better stat would be how many patents are licensed or productized, and how many patents sit on the shelf and are never used.

I can't prove it, but I suspect most IBM patents are never used, other than to lock up Intellectual Property. That's why I called it a land grab.

Re:IBM patent quality (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#34397232)

I bet that 99.9%(or a ridiculously high percentage something like that) of patents are never actually implemented within the first several years. We are out of the era where you can build some innovative, non-obvious, without prior art machine, patent it and get it to market in a year after patent granted.

Re:IBM patent quality (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34399728)

I've never seen any evidence that IBM acquires patents in order to lock up inventions. If IBM doesn't implement it, they'll license the patent. What IBM does do (from what I've seen as an outside observer -- I work for IBM but none of this has anything to do with my job) is use the patents defensively, meaning they don't get enforced at all, even though someone is infringing on them, unless that someone threatens to sue IBM for infringement on some of their patents.

Re:IBM patent quality (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34397198)

IBM is not a company, it's a small country - about 400'000 employees(none of which are janitors and other support staff). And as in most countries, there are assholes and idiots. And out of thousands of patents there are destined to be some idiotic ones...

Re:IBM patent quality (1)

bouldin (828821) | more than 3 years ago | (#34398390)

And out of thousands of patents there are destined to be some idiotic ones...

That argument works both ways:

Out of thousands of patents there are destined to be some useful ones.

Re:IBM patent quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34392138)

I used to work for IBM and left for greener pastures. My perspective was that the number of patents they filed was primarily a marketing tool, based around keeping the brand as one of the top 5 in the world. Internally they had utterly archaic tools and a labarynthine mass of intranets born out of the maw of C'thulu himself. The idea of "Innovation" was something they sold in presentations and in snappy commercials, not something they actually did.

Re:IBM patent quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34393284)

Ditto.. mod parent up.

Re:IBM patent quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34394056)

Oh yeah? I work for IBM too in software. There is a complete obsession here with patents, the entire reward system is built around it. Every time people write some code they pore over it to try and find something patentable. Creating patents is the way to progress technically, you get your Master Inventor award etc. People are not in the least concerned about the real value of a patent and it's nothing to do with how much effort has gone into it, it's just about getting something accepted.

I hate software patents and don't want anything to do with them but that's a view regarded as bizarre by both managers and colleagues.

Re:IBM patent quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34422570)

Disclosure: I work for IBM

Yep. That was pretty obvious.

MS, basic research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34390114)

Both IBM have contributed seriously to basic research over the years. What has MS done in that respect? It's been around for a shorter time, for sure, but MS has a reputation for hiring people who have done lots of very good research before joining MS, and very little afterwards.

Re:MS, basic research? (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390170)

MS has researched Basic and developed Commodore Basic, Apple Basic (if I remember right), MS Basic & Visual Basic...

Re:MS, basic research? (3, Informative)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390480)

Do you even know what you're talking about? Microsoft Research is pretty much the most respected non-academic research institution in CS (at least in systems). Xerox PARC and Intel research are pretty much the only ones on the same level (though that's less and less true of PARC).

Re:MS, basic research? (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#34397278)

I have to agree, their researchers are very notable in the CS field. But recently Google, Amazon, Yahoo and Facebook have stared to appear on the scene as well(well Facebook not so much, yet)... I actually have read a lot of research papers published by Microsoft.

Re:MS, basic research? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403444)

OT: thanks for the link in your sig.

This is research? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390134)

From the article:

Microsoft researchers built tools that are helpful in testing very large and complex software, essential to try to guarantee that the code does what it's supposed to,

That certainly does not sound like basic research to me. Indeed, it does not even sound like research. It is a software development project.

Can anyone name one Microsoft Research project that has significantly affected the computer industry?

Re:This is research? (2, Informative)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390338)

Its been a long time since I studied the output of MS basic research labs, but I remember 12 years ago being given a summary and being quite impressed. Not all of their basic research is in the computer industry per se. They had some great solid state physics modeling going on. As to actual innovations, the one I remember best is the note that Clippy, when he was first put out, was the most advanced AI-like program commercially available, and was a direct result of their basic research into AI and natural language processing. Other than that I wasn't paying attention to boring shit about the computer industry, but the interesting physics stuff they were sponsoring.

Re:This is research? (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390850)

Can anyone name one Microsoft Research project that has significantly affected the computer industry?

Yes.

Microsoft's natural language work resulted in the grammar checker in Word, which really is parsing sentences, not just looking for common errors. Microsoft Research used to give out a program you could plug into Word which let you see the sentence diagrams.

Microsoft has for years been doing serious work in automated proof of correctness for programs. "Spec#", the proof system for C#, was a research result. Another effort in that area involved automated verification of Windows drivers [microsoft.com] to determine if they could crash the rest of the OS. That paid off. In Windows 7, every driver has to pass the static verifier before it gets signed. Verified drivers may not drive the device correctly, but they don't crash the rest of the OS. (Yes, there's a formal undecidability problem. In practice, the system can either provide a proof or a counterexample for 97% of drivers submitted. The remaining 3% are typically flaky anyway; if your kernel driver has formally undecidable semantics, it needs a rewrite.)

There's more, but that's enough for now. Microsoft really does have one of the very few pure research groups left in computer science.

Re:This is research? (2)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34394192)

Microsoft really does have one of the very few pure research groups left in computer science.

I am not an MS fanboi by any means, but I have to agree here. It is becoming very hard to find CS research groups doing really innovative research anymore, even in academia. DoD and NSF funding for pure CS and computational systems has, for the most part, dried up, having been diverted towards biological and weapon-oriented endeavors. The only real funding in CS is in data-mining, "autonomous vehicles", and other areas where the likely outcome is increased kill-rates - with a few bones tossed to large-scale simulation. And certainly no funding in OS and programming language technology large enough to do more than (very) small-scale experiments.

And this is sad, because the state of software has not actually improved since around 1980. We're still stepping through for-loops with debuggers rather than building workable functional and proof-based systems; symbolic AI has been killed off, leaving stochastic models with no ability to explain their conclusions; GUI's, multi-touch excepted, have not changed since then. All else is simply repackaging of old technology.

And it's a shame. Back in the seventies, there were dozens of industrial R&D labs that studied software - even medium-sized companies employing as few as a thousand people often had labs. Now we're down to about a half dozen in the US (most of who are R&D in name only - so heavily weighted towards the "D" that they are). And our research seed-corn is drying up. Fancy that... Thanks MBA's and quarterly outcome investors. You've all really helped here, together with Congress-people who, if something doesn't kill someone, don't think it merits funding. Don't worry, though. I'm sure you'll all still be OK in twenty years when we've lost all of our "innovation" because of lack of basic research to build on. It's just the rest of us little people who'll have to pay through the nose for technology that's developed in places where governments and companies still understand that funding research is worthwhile. Or maybe we'll just get lucky and hit a long global decline in new technology - I've always liked to think that that's how we'll get to the next Dark Ages.

So blessings be on Microsoft and all of the companies that still fund research. They are the few pinpricks of light glowing in an increasingly darkening sky.

Re:This is research? (1)

sgt101 (120604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34394868)

Lots of good points above, I won't repeat the things that I agree with - but there are a few things that I would like to pick up.

You said that there were dozens of R&D labs that studied software. I disagree.

I think that people studied programming languages, and they studied compilers and interpreters, and they studied methodologies. Very few studies of software as it is and as it runs. We had FEAST from Murray Lehman (I vaguely think) but there have been very few serious investigations about actual systems in operation and evolution.

Why : because it is hard and there are very few people competent to do it.

Why is there very little funding about for CS research - because of this; serious proposals to attack this *kind * of issue would get funded. But they just aren't being written.

Re:This is research? (1)

bth (635955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34396686)

Very few studies of software as it is and as it runs.

Try http://www.research.ibm.com/people/n/nickmitchell/publications/lcsd2005.pdf [ibm.com] to a paper called "Diary of a Datum" and http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1297046 [acm.org] to another paper called "The causes of bloat, the limits of health". Both describe studies of large running applications in situ.

Full disclosure - I work for IBM Research and these papers were by folks in my department.

Re:This is research? (1)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34394584)

"Spec#", the proof system for C#, was a research result

Pretty sad that decades of $500M a year have led to the "innovation" of stealing a language feature of Eiffel and putting it into a Java clone.

Another effort in that area involved automated verification of Windows drivers [microsoft.com] to determine if they could crash the rest of the OS. That paid off. In Windows 7, every driver has to pass the static verifier before it gets signed

Nice. A lint tool for drivers.

Re:This is research? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34395916)

Pretty sad that decades of $500M a year have led to the "innovation" of stealing a language feature of Eiffel and putting it into a Java clone.

It's more than Eiffel design-by-contract, though it certainly builds on that idea. It's a static contract checker that's the interesting part there.

Re:This is research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34394742)

Yeah: Sharepoint. All user improvements in that have mostly come from Microsoft Research.

However, I think the underpinnings are still being written by blind monkeys.

Re:This is research? (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34395390)

From the article:

Microsoft researchers built tools that are helpful in testing very large and complex software, essential to try to guarantee that the code does what it's supposed to,

That certainly does not sound like basic research to me. Indeed, it does not even sound like research. It is a software development project.

Can anyone name one Microsoft Research project that has significantly affected the computer industry?

Either you are trolling or you are utterly clueless.

Re:This is research? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34399832)

Either you are trolling or you are utterly clueless.

Not trolling at all. Indeed, you are unable to answer the question I pose, and instead turn try to turn it around into an attack on me.

(for the record, I am not utterly clueless, partially maybe. But not utterly.)

How much money has Microsoft said in its SEC filings that it has spent on Research and Development. What is the result of that money spent? I remember the big PR splash that Microsoft Surface made, and how it was boasted to be a product of Microsoft Research. Then I saw this video [ted.com] of Johnny lee who surpasses Microsoft Surface for $50 in parts and some real creative research and development.

One person offered Clippy as a shining star of Microsoft Research.

(I'll pause while the laughter subsides....)

Some good projects of Microsoft Research have been mentioned, but I will ask my question again --- what project in Microsoft Research has dramatically changed the computer industry?

No one so far has been able to show how Microsoft Research has elevated the computer industry.

Re:This is research? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34399882)

The correct URL for Johnny Lee's awesome presentation is here [ted.com] .

(I had the wrong URL on the clipboard when I wrote the previous post. See... I am partially clueless. :) )

Re:This is research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34401500)

What is the result of that money spent?

This is the result.

http://research.microsoft.com/apps/dp/pu/publications.aspx [microsoft.com]

You can form your own opinion after you've gone through it. Ofcource .. you should let us know what you've done in your life to make your opinion worth something too. Otherwise your achievement will simply remain at leaving a comment on a website. Hurray !

Re:This is research? (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34404960)

Either you are trolling or you are utterly clueless.

Not trolling at all. Indeed, you are unable to answer the question I pose, and instead turn try to turn it around into an attack on me.

Not unable, but simply unwilling. I mean, c'mon. Are you serious that you could not have answered that question yourself by doing a simple google or looking at the MS research publication? Also (and furthermore), why answering the question when it is indeed a loaded one?

Indeed it is a loaded one because it is disingenuous to require industrial research to be significantly revolutionary since 1) revolutionary significance can only be answered and attested in decades, and 2) being a research project and product/software development project are not mutually exclusive states of being.

Where one to apply such fallacious and fictitious criteria equitably, then the overwhelming majority of academic and research projects would be thrown out of the window since they are 1) intertwined with a software development effort and/or 2) do not and most likely will not significantly advance the state of the art and knowledge in computer science.

Revolutionary breakthrough in all science do not come out of the vacuum, but built themselves on top of prior research (much of which would be considered insignificant when taken in isolation). That is why is strange to ask such strange questions. They serve no purpose, and at worse, they are simply loaded statements that do not help advancing one's knowledge on the subject (and might in fact impairs it.) It is not a serious question regardless of whether you believe it is. If you expect or want serious answers, then put good questions that deserve one.

(for the record, I am not utterly clueless, partially maybe. But not utterly.)

Simple due diligence with an internet search engine would help you reduce the gap in awareness. Somebody already posted (see below) a list of current active research being performed by MS R&D. You can form your own opinion on the revolutionary significance of any of it (which is a loaded - and naive - one given the reasons I outlined above.)

How much money has Microsoft said in its SEC filings that it has spent on Research and Development. What is the result of that money spent?

Now here you are trolling in a grandiose non-sequitur way.

I remember the big PR splash that Microsoft Surface made, and how it was boasted to be a product of Microsoft Research. Then I saw this video [ted.com] of Johnny lee who surpasses Microsoft Surface for $50 in parts and some real creative research and development.

So that's your evidence (an unsurprising marketing gimmick from a for-profit company's marketing department) for questioning MS's research? You take a marketing gimmick to wonder the quality of research being done by a research arm that has the likes of Leslie Lamport on payroll?

One person offered Clippy as a shining star of Microsoft Research.

(I'll pause while the laughter subsides....)

That is funny I grant you that, but I highly doubt how one could take such a dumb suggestion with any seriousness as a counter-example in a serious discussion.

There is no way that a person can be genuinely interested in learning about an organization's research while at the same time indulging in such parochial argumentative gimmicks.

Some good projects of Microsoft Research have been mentioned, but I will ask my question again --- what project in Microsoft Research has dramatically changed the computer industry?

Again, as I mentioned before, yours is a loaded, debatable question. It has no purpose other than making noise. People have already posted links to current MS research (a lot of it quite impressive.) And from there it's up to you to decide whether :

  1. it is revolutionary,
  2. you are technically capable and sufficiently objective to come up with a realistic measure for determining whether a piece of research is revolutionary significant, and
  3. whether meeting such criteria objectively and justifiable validates or invalidates the aforementioned research

Let us know how it works for you. No one so far has been able to show how Microsoft Research has elevated the computer industry.

Re:This is research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34401298)

>Can anyone name one Microsoft Research project that has significantly affected the computer industry?

Clippy?

Re:This is research? (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34403500)

That certainly does not sound like basic research to me. Indeed, it does not even sound like research. It is a software development project.

It's more like university research than a software development project because it's centered around theoretical ideas by individual researchers who spend some time to build a tool that embodies their idea. I worked on one of these tools ("Zing") six years ago but it's been superseded and replaced by completely new ideas many times since then.

"Generics for .NET" was an MSR research project that significantly affected the computer industry. This form of generics hadn't existed before. It's different from C++ templates (which are done at compile-time) and difference from Java generics (which are erased at runtime).

"C-omega" was an MSR research project that significantly affected the computer industry. It introduced LINQ -- a form Haskell monads, sort of like Python list comprehensions on steroids -- and they're now used by C#+VB i.e. by about 15% of the world's programmers.

"F#" was an MSR research project that became the world's first "industrial" functional language ("industrial" in the sense of being available commercially). It's taken certain markets e.g. financial by storm. It also introduced some genuine innovations that haven't yet had time to affect programming language practice but which I think will do within five years -- "extended static typing" (where type hierarchies are downloaded on the fly from semantic web sources) and "async workflows" (a new form of co-routines).

My job is as a language designer, so I've only picked the language-design innovations out of MSR.

If HP R&D so good then why lack of Android tab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34390202)

That's the real reason they canned Hurd: caught flat footed with no new products.

HP-B? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34390642)

Hewlett Packard-Bell has a research lab? What are they researching, how many customers they can tick off with unreliable garbage products before the company implodes?

DJ 9xx Series: 80+% failure rate in five years
DJ 5xxx Series: Still no published drivers that work correctly with a remote queue; design problems; 100% malfunction rate
OJ K550: 60% failure rate out of the box, 80% after five years
LJ 42xx/43xx: design flaw in swing gear: 100% failure rate in five years

Re:HP-B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34393262)

Hey Anonymous Retard... Packard-Bell has absolutely nothing to do with Hewlett Packard.

Anonymous Retards: 100% failure rate 100% of the time.

Re:HP-B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34393690)

HP bought Packard-Bell a few years ago.

Re:HP-B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34394378)

No, they didn't. Acer bought Packard Bell.

Re:HP-B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34406528)

Packard-Bell: company infamous for losing customers by selling them junk

Hewlett Packard: company losing customers because it is selling them junk

Anonymous Coward #34393262: Unable to understand an obvious word play

they still do R&D? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390848)

I thought that went out years ago in the 20th century.

A tale of three companies. (3, Insightful)

Pinback (80041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34391320)

One of them does research and generates patents, one of them pimps ink and Intel hardware, and one of them makes the Zune. Not sure why they tried to include them all in the same article.

Re:A tale of three companies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34401558)

Because when you have 100,000 employees most people who are not retarded can make a distinction between the different product groups, the management/marketing idiots and the research group. I'm sorry thinking about it hurt your head. You should go lie down.

Ms obviously wins (1)

thunrida (950858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34391482)

I knew it. Only in totally free research environment that MS is practicing can you produce such groundbreaking advancements as Clippy.

Stopped reading at this quote (2, Funny)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | more than 3 years ago | (#34393616)

From TFA:
" IBM can lay claim to not only inventing the personal computer..."

I guess the writer thinks Steve Jobs invented the telephone, too.

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