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Network World - When the word “innovation” is tossed about many may look down their nose at the company sitting on top of the high-tech industry – Microsoft.
The look is not without prompting given critics’ charges that the software giant has chased innovation born from competitors such as Apple and Google. And who can forget Bill Gates’s Internet Tidal Wave memo in 1995 that ushered Microsoft into an online world already in full bloom.
But it’s not all tales of late to the party.
In fact, Microsoft planted the seeds of innovation 15 years ago when it established what has become one of its most distinguishing features, Microsoft Research (MSR). The lab has spawned innovations seen today in products from Windows Vista to Exchange Server to Xbox 360.
MSR has grown from an idea to more than 700 researchers working out of five labs around the globe with a budget of more than $250 million. MSR incubates not only futuristic ideas but young minds, having hired 700 interns worldwide this year including 250 computer science PhD candidates in Redmond alone, which is roughly 21% of all the computer science PhD candidates in the United States. It’s a program Microsoft officials say is the world’s largest PhD. internship program for computer science.
The MSR staff, however, is not just computer scientists, it includes psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and medical doctors who are tasked with pushing the envelope on state of the art technology as much or more than transferring their technology into new and existing Microsoft products.