I have moved my blog to Wordpress at theunixgeek.wordpress.com. I will still be checking back periodically on this one as well, though. 19 April 2009


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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Is Research the Best Part of Microsoft?

Here's something I was genuinely thinking lately: is Microsoft Research the best thing Microsoft has to offer today? Seriously, think about it. Forget Windows 7; forget Office 14; forget Live Search; forget the Zune. Here are a few things, oriented to both developers and consumers, that are currently being offered from Microsoft Research:

  • Songsmith - Ok, I must admit that the ad is really cheesy, but it seems like a feature that Apple should have put in GarageBand. It's easier to sing into a microphone and have the program make up the song for you rather than pulling out instruments and messing around with them."Songsmith comes up with a music that matches your voice," touts the ad, which seems very interesting. Even better would be a mixture of the two. (By the way, is it just me or is that a MacBook Pro they used, using a flower sticker to cover up the Apple logo?)  
  • Kodu - I'd bet a lot of younger children would like to write their own games on their computer. With Kodu, anyone (but it's being marketed for children) can visually develop a game without typing out any code. I'm not sure if you need some Kodu interpreter to run the games or if they can run as stand-alone application on PCs and Xboxe 360s, but it seems very enticing.
  • WorldWide Telescope - It seems that WWT (as Microsoft abbreviates it) is a sort of Google Earth for the rest of the universe. 
  • Boogie and Spec# - Boogie is an "intermediate program verification language" and Spec# is something similar, except it developed separately into a separate programming language. Neither of the websites make it very clear as to what each of the products is.
  • Coconut - a .NET library for working with matrix mathematics
  • Domestic 2.0 - this is more of a philosophical project that tries to design new user experiences based on their socio-domestic background. 
Sadly, many of the projects have incomplete descriptions, such as HDR Image Hallucination, Chalice, and  CAPTCHA 2.0 .

Besides these main projects, there are numerous other small projects being developed.  I think it's time for Micrsofot to drop Office with OpenOffice and Symphony (which is based on OpenOffice) as completely viable office suite alternatives and focus more on these interesting products that very few people know about.