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Networking Research Group


The mission of our group is to explore, design, develop, and study reliable, scalable, self-managing networks and systems.

We have two goals: to engage in fundamental research that improves the state-of-art in networked systems design; and to help Microsoft build and deploy compelling networking products.

Our research spans mobile and wireless networks; wide area internet systems and protocols; datacenter, enterprise and home networks, network monitoring, inference, and diagnosis, and network performance improvements and analysis. We investigate new connectivity paradigms emphasizing scenario-based research with rapid prototyping so that researchers can experiment with actual systems.

We are looking for both senior and fresh PhDs.  If you are interested and would like to apply for a Researcher position please apply via our central site.

Affiliate Member

    • Changhoon Kim, Software Development Engineer II, Windows Azure, Microsoft


    • Dave Maltz, Senior Reseacher (2005-10); now a Senior Researcher in the Bing Team, Microsoft's Online Services Division
    • Albert Greenberg, Principal Researcher (2007-10); now a Partner Development Manager in the Azure Team, Microsoft's Servers and Tools Business Unit
    • Parveen Patel, Senior RSDE (2007-09); now a Development Lead in the Cloud Development Team, Microsoft's Servers and Tools Business Unit
    • John Dunagan, Researcher (2007-09); Now a Software Architect in the High Performance Computing Group, Microsoft
    • Venkat Padmanabhan, Senior Researcher (1998 - 2007); now a Principal Researcher & Group Manager, Mobility, Networks, and Systems Group, Microsoft Research India
    • Atul Adya, Researcher (2002-05) (First a Software Architect in Windows Live, till 2008), now at Google Seattle, Washington)
    • Lili Qiu, Researcher (2001-04); Now a Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas

Visiting Researchers

    • Romit Roy Choudhury, Dept. of Computer Science, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA, Summer 2010
    • Balaji Prabhakar, Dept. of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, Summer 2009
    • Y. Richard Yang, Dept. of Computer Science and Electical Engineering, Yale Universty, New Haven, Connecticut, USA,  Summer 2009
    • Jennifer Rexford, Dept. of Computer Science, Princeton University, New Jersey, USA, Summer 2009
    • Y. Charlie Hu, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA,  Fall 2008
    • Z. Morley Mao, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, Summer 2008
    • Magdalena Balazinska, Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA, Summer 2007

Research Themes

Datacenter Networking & Performance Optimization of Cloud Services
We are pursuing a multi-year cross-lab research prgram that focusses on producing the next generation data center networking and services. We are experimenting with radical new designs in network architecture, programming abstractions, and performance management tools. We care about inexpensive future-proof networking inside the data centers, between globally distributed data centers and to the data centers. Our research includes several projects the cut across various systems and networking research areas that are being pursued in collaboration with Microsoft's Global Foundation Services Team, Windows Azure Team, Bing Team, and the Management Solutions Division.

Enterprise Network Management & Services
We are pursuing several different projects in this area. In particular, NetHealth is a network management research program in which end-hosts cooperatively detect, diagnose, and recover from network faults. Unlike existing products we take a end-host centric approach to gathering, aggregating, and analyzing data at all layers of the networking stack for determining the root cause of the problems. NetHealth includes several on-going projects in the wireless and wired space that are being pursued in collaboration with Microsoft’s Management Solutions Division and  Microsoft's Unified Communications Group.

Cognitive Wireless Networking
The next generation of wireless networks will include software defined radios, cognitive radios, and multi-radio systems which will co-exist harmoniously while operating over a very wide range of frequencies. We are revisiting "classical" wireless networking problems and designing new solutions that incorporate and build upon recent advances in software and hardware technologies. Of  interest lately has been our research solutions to problems in white space networking (the KNOWS project). We are working with ploicy makers, business units and acdemia to address the societal needs for providing inexpensive broadband connectivity everywhere.  

Mobile Computing & Software Services
Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are being adopted at a phenomenal pace. We are pursuing a variety of mobility-related projects: studying how the cloud can enhance the user experience on mobile devices (HAWAII); understanding how people use smartphones and the performance characteristics of 3G networks (3GTest & Diversity Studies); building systems to enhance smartphone performance, functionality, and battery lifetime using code offload (MAUI); building infastructure to enable mobile social applications (Virtual Compass); and enhancing mobile device sensors by making their sensor readings trustworthy. In the software services arena, we are pursuing a variety of systems to simplify building scalable and geo-distributed services (PRS/Centrifuge, Volley, and Stout). Another area of emphasis is home networks, where we are pursuing network diagnosis services for the home (NetMedic & NetClinic), as well as new services and abstractions for building networked applications for the home (HomeOS).  

Technology Licensing

Visit for licensing information.

    • Wireless (Wi-Fi) Hot Spot Network Access (CHOICE): This system consists of five important technologies, all of which can be leveraged by the licensee as the basis for a new wireless service, or to augment an existing Wi-Fi deployment. These technologies are: (1) Global Authenticator (2) Network Admission Server (3) Traffic Control Gateway (4) Client Module and (5) Policy Manager.
    • Wi-Fi Location Determination (RADAR/LOCADIO): Microsoft Research developed the original algorithms for location detection using existing 802.11 wireless access points, and has continued to build upon that initial work. We introduced the method of locating a client by measuring the signal strength from multiple wireless access points against a database of previously collected signal strength information at multiple locations and orientations.
    • Cellphone Power Management (Cell2Notify): Is a practical energy management system that leverages the cellular radio to wake-up the Wi-Fi radio on wireless devices like the SmartPhones, Laptops, and NetBooks. Cell2Notify includes a caller ID notification & alert mechanism that allows the wireless device to complete a energy efficient voice over IP connection over a local area network.
    • Undelivered or Delayed e-mail Notification System (ELDA): Studies have shown that email loss rates can be as high as 3.36%!. ELDA is a alerting technology for users when e-mails sent to them have been delayed or lost. The alert consists of a short, fixed-format fingerprint of the delayed or undelivered e-mail, which preserves sender and recipient privacy and prevents spoofing by spammers.
    • High Performance Internet Connectivity in Moving Vehicles (Pluribus): A set of protocols, algorithms, and mechanisms that enable moving clients, such as busses, automobiles, to transmit data packets on the wireless link that offers the fastest delivery, which minimizes application traffic delays. Pluribus uses novel erasure coding techniques to enable high-performance Internet access aboard moving vehicles.
    • Fast Wi-Fi Hand-off to Diversified Base Stations (Vi-Fi): Is a protocol that opportunistically exploits base station diversity to minimize disruptions and support interactive applications for moving Wi-FI enabled clients (Automobiles, Busses, etc.). It uses a decentralized and lightweight probabilistic algorithm for coordination between participating base stations while maintaining connectivity with the clients.
    • Virtual WiFi: Abstracts a single Wireless LAN card to appear as multiple virtual Wireless LAN cards to the user. Each virtual card can be configured to connect to a different wireless network allowing a user to simultaneously connect her machine to multiple wireless networks using just one WLAN card.
    • Mesh Connectivity Layer Mesh Network Connectivity Layer technology implements ad-hoc routing and link quality measurement for mesh networks in a module that is a loadable Microsoft Windows driver.
    • Smart Antenna Smart Antenna is a low cost directional antenna technology designed for increasing the range, throughput, and consistency of 802.11 networks 


NRG Events

We organize mindswap events where reseachers from industry, academia, and government get together to identify and openly discuss problems and solutions in specfic areas.

Tech. Transfers

Product group impact comes in many forms - consultation, design wins, code transfer, people transfer etc. Here is a sampling:

  • Virtual Wi-Fi ships in Windows 7
  • Partitioning and Recovery Service ships as part of Live Mesh
  • Centrifuge/PRS adopted by Windows Live Messenger
  • DNS optimization adopted by Bing
  • TCP config changes ship in Windows 7 SP1
  • Outlier detection technology used by Bing
  • NetTrace technology in Bing
  • IPv6 ships in Windows XP, Vista & Windows 7
  • NDIS WLAN extensions ship in Windows 2000, Windows XP, Vista & Windows 7