Microsoft invited a bunch of hacks to its UK research headquarters last Wednesday to walk us through a fairly pedestrian showcase of the software giant’s latest tech development. Unlike in 2009 when the company had its big iPhone - sorry, Surface technology - as the centrepiece of its R&D work to show off, this time around …
Brand old tech
"it is “based on explicit communications rather than the (illusion of) shared resources”
"Computers are beginning to look very different from two processors and memory on a backplate, it’s much more a peer-to-peer style of machine. So the old metaphors for programming the old style of computer are no longer going to be optimal for this kind of machine. "
You mean like Tandem circa 1980s?
I'd guess that MS research teams (UK included) don't really have too much say about where the technology/research ends up. In a big organisation I'd guess that there are marketing and business people to sell stuff to corporate customers (intellectual property sort of stuff) or to its own internal development people.
That said, in the big picture, it is good to know that research in the UK is contributing to future developments in IT.
"two processors and memory on a backplate"
Are there any Transputer/Occam experts reading this? It sounds like there are jobs for you at Microsoft in Cambridge, you can get paid while re-inventing your wheels (so long as you let them think they only just thought of it).
Or maybe they could use massive-SMP or clustering or whatever expertise from the worlds of transaction processing and scientific computing.
In the real world, it's not just this year that "computers are beginning to look very different from two processors and memory on a backplate", but it seems that's the way MS see it.
Are there any popular widely used reliable (and ideally low cost, maybe even with source) OSes and/or application Platforms that are already in use in this market segment that might perhaps get in the way of MS's next attempt at world domination?
How is Windows HPC Server  doing, in the markets where engineers and scientists (rather than utterly clueless PHBs and MBAs) still make purchasing decisions ?
Shame research.microsoft.com is still unresponsive to me, just like it was after the last MS Research article a few days ago. It's not totally dead though, validator.w3.org finds plenty of warnings and errors so it's sort of alive(ish). netmonitor.org, where are you now?
Not enough shiny gadgets for you?
The work they are doing on inference and infer.net is important. It likely to be the fundamental research that turns out to be relevant in the long term, rather than flashy but ultimately pointless gadgets like surface.
A couple points ...
"So why are Microsoft researchers making lots of noises about image processing, which is an area the company isn't famed for pioneering in the tech world?"
Easy answer: Because the most often used excuse for Linux not being on more desktops world wide is "Photoshop doesn't run on Linux". Not that 99.999% of the idiots running pirated editions of Photoshop to insert daft comments into JPEGs of cute critters need anything as powerful as Photoshop ... But if Adobe ever releases a version on PS for Linux, MS will want to have something similar in place in the MS-office suite.
As for Barrelfish ... If Dave Cutler isn't onboard, it ain't going anywhere as an MS OS.
Not everything is 'product'
A lot of work is foundational, conceptual and highly abstract, typically mathematics and won't show up in any blatant way. For example, Jim Gray's database work. He probably never produced a line of code that went into MS's SQL server shipped code but the work is there in spirit. I doubt Tony Hoare gets his hands dirty on a keyboard except for email.
It would help though if programmers were less keen to be miserable and down about 'new' tech (q.v. the recent comments on F# article).
An area the company isn't famed for pioneering?
You've obviously never had to cover SIGGRAPH. In 2006 and 2007 they presented more papers than any other organisation.
Some of the 'greats' of the computer graphics world work for MS Research - Jim Blinn, Michael Cohen, Tex Avery, Hugues Hoppe, Jim Kajiya, Andrew Glassner - the list goes on and on....
Que bien joden con sus titulos
I found the bunny angle more interesting that what MS had to say.
More MS bunnies please.
Paris cause she's as cute and bright as a bunny, and has a nice tail.
Interesting but flawed model
They have produced some interesting products for use - e.g. panoramic stitching software and even software to allow Windows to view RAW files natively. Their software is available for 64 bit Windows, unlike a lot of other software, and much of it is free. However, they are behind the curve -e.g. no recent SLR models supported for RAW (eg. models released at the beginning of last year). They need to transfer the tech and, more importantly, the tech skills into Microsoft's main business units - not easy but essential for scale.
Unable to book Microsoft Exam 83-640
Through Promteric website. Booking system unavailable. Down since 9th May.
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The university employ employ a falconry contractor to come exercise his birds at the west cambridge site once a week or so to discourage pigeons. Clearly they need to upgrade to larger and hungrier birds that'll take care of ground-dwelling snacks as well as airborne ones.
Larger and hungrier birds...
Believe me, there are plenty of falconry centres with birds that meet this description. Two reasons why they don't use them - firstly they're worth a lot of money, and harder to replace than the bog standard Harris hawks or even than the peregrines. Secondly, the bigger birds are more inclined temperamentally to take some 'unplanned shore leave', and might not be too careful about discriminating between bunnies (fair game) and an old lady's beloved Yorkie :-)
I don't need no steeking titles.
>So why are Microsoft researchers making lots of noise about image processing, which is an area the company isn't famed for pioneering in the tech world
Er, the company isn't famed for pioneering anything in the tech world. Every MS offering in general use was done first by someone else (not necessarily better, just first. But usually better too)
Tex Avery works for Microsoft?
@Ed-H - I wondered what Tex did after he retired from Hanna-Barbera. Apart from dying in 1980 of course. How clever of him to present posthumously at SIGGRAPH in 2006 and 2007.
Give the bunnies access to Windows. They'll soon get a virus and die!
If it is like any other MS future OS....
We will see a bucket of fish, not a barrel.