Microsoft puts Live services into the Labs

Microsoft has founded research centres to help it match Internet search giants Google and Yahoo! and support its strategy of creating online services of its desktop and office software.

Microsoft is putting an academic slant on both the Microsoft Search Labs and Live Labs by making half a million dollars available shortly in the form of grant and award schemes for academics looking to run research projects in the area.

Google simply started out with a good search algorithm. Yahoo! woke up to the power of search and bought search technology companies wherever it saw them. This has left Microsoft little in the way of acquisition opportunities. Its angle has been to recruit expertise right out of its rivals’ labs. Now its hoping to both tempt talent in and grow its own through the academic door.

Live Labs will be looked after by Dr Gary Flake, a researcher Microsoft hired last year from Yahoo!, while for Search Labs Microsoft announced it had hired respected academic Dr Ashok Chandra as general manager.

The announcement also adds to Microsoft’s head count, with another 100 positions to fill at Live Labs alone.

‘Live Labs is a fantastic alliance between some of the best engineering and scientific talent in the world. It will be the pre-eminent applied research laboratory for Internet technologies,’ Flake said. ‘This is a very exciting opportunity for researchers and technologists to have an immediate impact on the next evolution of Microsoft’s Internet products and services and will help unify our customers’ digital world so they can easily find information, pursue their interests and enrich their lives.’

Live Labs is described as focussing on areas such as multimedia search, machine learning, distributed computing and data mining, without being tied to producing a product at the end of each project.

Search Labs will look into personalization, socialization and improved user experiences and attempt to do so with respect for user privacy.

Ray Ozzie, Craig Mundie and David Vaskevitch, Microsoft’s chief technical officers, will serve as the Live Labs Advisory Board.

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