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Product Contributions 1991-2005

The following is a partial list of other technologies that began in Microsoft Research and later moved into Microsoft products, demonstrating the extensive success of the company’s distinctive technology transfer approach.

Windows® XP

  • ClearType® display technology allows a crisper, higher-resolution display of text on ordinary LCD screens.
  • IPv6 is an implementation of the Internet Protocol version 6 that is fully supported in the shipping version of the operating system.
  • Source code analysis tool advancements allow developers to find more subtle and complex bugs.
  • Performance optimization tool advancements optimize the load time, memory requirements and overall performance of the operating system.

Windows 2000

  • Text-to-speech engine takes written text such as in an e-mail message or Microsoft Word document and speaks it in a natural-sounding voice.
  • Antipiracy features help deter illegal copying of Windows 2000. These features include schemes for generating intricate product identification numbers (PIDs), making it extremely difficult to guess or forge them.
  • Kernel optimization tools represent a further advance of the performance optimization tools used for earlier versions of Windows, specifically in optimizing the lowest-level part of the operating system with unique performance requirements.
  • Public-key cryptography library code supports the latest public-key cryptography algorithms for sending information across networks.
  • IPv6 preview, an early release of the Internet Protocol version 6, allows IT departments to evaluate and experiment with how to roll out the new standard.
  • New DirectX® functionality brings advanced graphics features to the DirectX API multimedia-programming environment. These features result in better-quality graphics, faster frame rates and support for massively multiplayer games.
  • Source code analysis tools help Microsoft developers analyze their source code by locating and fixing bugs early in the product cycle, which ultimately improves the overall quality of the programs.

Windows NT®

  • Alpha compositing algorithms allow areas of an image to be partially transparent. When multiple images are layered or stacked, the final image is resolved with the underlying images showing through the partially transparent areas.
  • Cryptography libraries are components for applications to encrypt data to keep it secure on a machine and on a network.

Windows 98

  • Chinese Input Method Editor (IME), designed by Microsoft Research, allows easier input of Chinese text into applications. As an operating system feature, it increases the speed and accuracy for data entry in all applications.
  • Intelligent troubleshooters help walk users through the process of diagnosing a problem and, through the use of advanced Bayesian probability and inference modeling, can predict the most likely causes of the problem.
  • Windows Media® Player audio and video codecs digitally encode audio and video so they can be stored and compressed for delivery via the Internet. These state-of-the-art codecs create the best possible quality while achieving high data compression.

Windows 95

  • Performance optimization tools helped the developer team make the operating system load faster, act more responsively and require less memory. These tools made the second generation of the Windows operating system run optimally, even when installed on machines with slow processors and low memory.

Office 2003

  • Junk-mail filter. Researchers in the Machine Learning and Applied Statistics Group first deployed this filter in MSN® 8. Further research has improved its overall performance for helping capture unwanted e-mail.
  • Enhancements for using multiple monitors. Cognitive psychologists and usability experts advised on several user interface enhancements that optimize Office 2003 for multiple-monitor environments. This input builds on research conducted in Microsoft Research that shows how increasing the desktop area by utilizing multiple monitors or large displays can help overcome gender differences in navigation, as well as increase overall productivity.
  • Cryptography and anti-piracy improvements. Technologies from the Cryptography and Anti-Piracy Group were used to create security enhancements and provide increased protection against software piracy.
  • Development tools. The Microsoft Research Programmer Productivity Research Center created static analysis tools designed to enable Office coders to detect and reduce the number of product errors during development. Microsoft Research innovations resulted in an even more stable and reliable product as well as improved performance.
  • Regional features. Microsoft Research contributed several technologies to regional releases of Office 2003, including the Homestyle Cartoon Wizard in the Japanese version and the English Writing Wizard in the Chinese version.

Office XP

  • Smart tags technology automatically recognizes "factoids," specific data such as dates, company names and locations, and enables rapid access to information from the Web, Office or third-party applications via automatically generated links.
  • The grammar checker has been improved and supports more languages.
  • Microsoft Outlook® Mobile Manager
    • IntelliShrink® text compression system takes messages destined for small text displays (e.g., of cell phones and pagers) and intelligently abbreviates the text to lower the character count without obscuring the meaning.
    • The notification system learns how people prioritize their incoming messages and takes appropriate action on behalf of users to forward important messages to their pager or cell phone.
  • Anti-piracy technologies are designed to protect electronic licensing.
  • Development tools help identify coding errors early in the development process.
  • Windows SharePointTM Services information retrieval technologies help users index documents and data more usefully.
  • Speech recognition engines recognize spoken dictation and commands for data entry.
  • A Mandarin Chinese data entry user interface advances simplify the process and speed data entry rates.

Office 2000

  • The improved Answer Wizard improves the accuracy of recommendations.
  • New grammar checker languages were created using English grammar analysis technology.

Office 97

  • English grammar checker analyzes English text, identifies errors in spelling, tense and usage, and suggests alternatives and corrections.
  • Japanese stemmer and segmenter parses Japanese words and text, which assists in data entry.

Office 95

  • Optimization tools used by the Windows Group for Windows 95 also helped the Office 95 team.
  • Answer Wizard, an interface to online Help, combines text analysis with observation of user behavior to suggest Help topics most likely to help.

Digital Media Division

  • This product division was spun out of Microsoft Research in 1996. The research lab continues to contribute new audio and video codecs to Windows Media Player and other products.

Microsoft Speech Server 2004

  • MSS 2004 architecture was influenced by the speech-centric multimodal interfaces pioneered with the MiPad prototype in 2000 and the speech-enabled MapPoint® business mapping software in 2001, both developed by Microsoft Research.
  • Multimodal markup languages, developed to support Microsoft Research's MiPad prototype, later evolved into the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) 1.0 specification standardized by the SALT Forum, which is the lingua franca of MSS 2003.
  • The SPLICE algorithm contributed by Microsoft Research combats noise in the speech-recognition engine that powers MSS 2004, decreasing the error rate on noisy telephone data sets.
  • MSConnect, an application that enables users to call people by simply speaking their names, was developed in collaboration with the MSS team to optimize the server's scalability with large grammars.
  • The Cepstrum compression algorithm developed by Microsoft Research reduces bandwidth between MSS and multimodal clients, while being robust to slowly varying linear channels.

Microsoft SQL ServerTM 2005

  • Decision Trees are useful for prediction or determining the likelihood of something. Examples include: Is this e-mail spam? Given recent purchases on a credit card, has the card been stolen? Given previous purchases of a customer, what else might he/she want to purchase? Does the visual pattern from a telescope correspond to a star or galaxy?
  • Clustering is useful for grouping like things together (and separating dissimilar things). Examples include clustering people based on how they use the Web, clustering customers based on what products they buy, and clustering genes based on how strongly they are expressed in particular parts of the body.
  • Sequential Clustering is similar to clustering, except that the time order of events used to cluster is taken into consideration. Examples include clustering products by their sales patterns over time and clustering people based on the order in which they visit Web pages on a Web site.
  • Time Series is a prediction method specialized for time-sensitive data. Examples include predicting sales trends, predicting economic indicators, and forecasting atmospheric conditions.
  • Indexed views can provide massive improvements in database query processing by storing previous requests and analyzing the stored queries when a new query is issued to see if a stored one can supply some or all of the requested data. That process is significantly faster than if each query is treated as completely new.

Microsoft SQL ServerTM

  • Test tools generate random and complex SQL Server queries, which can more fully test and exercise the Microsoft SQL Server engine.
  • Auto admin tools automatically tune SQL Server for optimal performance and engine enhancements.
  • Key range locking allows more users to access the database simultaneously.
  • Multilevel recovery allows the system to bring itself back to a stable state even when very complex operations were only partially completed at the time of the failure.
  • Multiple storage organizations permit more flexibility in organizing data within a database so it can be accessed more efficiently. Different database uses require different patterns of how to read and write data, and having more flexibility in how to organize that data allows for better performance across a wider range of database applications.
  • New OLE DB extensions allow SQL developers to take advantage of data-mining components that plug in to the new interface.
  • New data-mining techniques allow users to more easily find patterns in massive data sets.

Tablet PC

  • Concepts and team leads behind the Tablet PC originated in Microsoft Research and became a product team once it became clear that the Tablet PC was a project worth advancing. Several researchers continued to see the project through to completion.
  • Digital Ink technology enables users to write directly on the Tablet screen to control their PC and to input information as handwriting or drawing.
  • Several algorithms that enable handwriting and sketch recognition technology allow users to manipulate handwriting notes.
  • Recognition of Asian characters, including one-, two-, three- and four-stroke characters, has been improved for the Tablet PC.
  • Compression techniques enable users to mark up and annotate digital documents such as a Web page, a PowerPoint® presentation or a legal brief.

Anti-Spam Technologies

  • SmartScreen/Intelligent Message Filter is an advanced spam filter designed by Microsoft Research and the Safety Technology and Strategy Group. The patented technology is based on a machine-learning approach, in which customers submit examples of e-mail that they consider spam, which are used to train the filter.

OneNote®

  • Advanced ink parsing analyzes a page of ink and decides which ink strokes belong to words, which ink strokes belong to drawings, and which words belong to the same line of text.

MSN Search

  • Core search-engine design and implementation of fault-tolerant distributed systems, high-performance Web scale indexing technology, load balancers, Web-crawler design, and failure monitoring and recovery were consulted on by Microsoft researchers.
  • Web-based question-answering algorithms contributed by Microsoft Research provide answers such as definitions, facts, calculations, conversations, and solutions to equations, rather than simply return full documents or best-matching passages.
  • Automated relevance measurement developed in collaboration with MSN supports tuning and improvement of the results ranking algorithm.
  • Desktop search algorithms developed in collaboration with MSN enable users to search all the documents on their computer, as well as e-mail messages and their attachments in Microsoft Office Outlook.
  • Spam Web-page detection is enhanced by a clustering algorithm that groups similar result pages together and a link-spam-resistant ranking algorithm contributed by Microsoft Research.
  • MSN Newsbot gathers news from more than 4,800 sources on the Internet to speed discovery of the news and information of most interest to the user.

Windows Live Local

  • The Microsoft® TerraServer-USA Web site is one of the world's largest online databases, providing free public access to a vast data store of maps and aerial photographs of the United States. Developed by Microsoft Research, TerraServer-USA is operated by Microsoft as a research project for developing advanced database technology and is a collaborative effort with the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • The Location Finder turns a regular Wi-Fi enabled laptop computer into a mobile location-determining device without the expense of adding additional hardware. Location Finder uses the wireless access points visible to a computer to determine the user's location. The positioning algorithms for Location Finder were developed in the Microsoft Research Redmond lab.
  • Scratch Pad As people conduct searches around a location, they can choose to save search results including name, address, and description to the Scratch Pad—a list or itinerary—with a single mouse click. Scratch Pad provides users with a simple way to compile search results that can be e-mailed, copied into a document, or even added to a Weblog on MSN Spaces. The application-programming interface for Scratch Pad was developed by researchers in the Microsoft Research India lab.

MSN 8

  • The spam filter uses machine-learning-based technology that, over time, learns what types of e-mail an individual considers to be junk and filters messages with increased efficiency.
  • Multilevel parental controls utilize collaborative filtering techniques.
  • The dashboard interface is a customizable navigation bar.

MSN Messenger

  • Audio healer addresses three main problems that affect voice quality that exist in Voice over IP (VoIP) applications: packet loss, packet jitter, and clock drift. It integrates the following core algorithms in one unified framework:
    • A high-quality signal processing algorithm that can stretch or compress a piece of voice signal to virtually any length without introducing perceptible quality degradation or pitch shift.
    • An error-concealment algorithm that uses the stretch/compress algorithm above to conceal the signal gap caused by packet losses.
    • A smart audio-buffer management algorithm that adjusts audio-buffer length (by smoothly stretching and compressing the audio signal) at the VoIP client such that low buffer delay and glitch-free audio quality are achieved at the same time. The drift caused by clock mismatch between the4 sender and the receiver also is handled implicitly.

SPOT

  • Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) is a special project incubated within Microsoft Research focused on making everyday devices (e.g., wristwatches) better at what they do, and enabling them to provide timely, personalized information in a convenient, "glanceable" format. Microsoft Research developed a new platform that integrates software and hardware into a new custom chipset to create a solution that addresses the challenging power, cost and physical size requirements of the initial class of timepiece-based Smart Personal Objects.
  • DirectBandTM is a set of technologies enabling the transmission of Web-based information to smart objects. It includes a custom radio receiver, a wide area network based on FM subcarrier technology and new radio protocols.

Xbox

  • True Skill, developed by the Machine Learning and Perception group, is a new ranking and matchmaking system that uses a mathematical model of uncertainty to address weaknesses in existing ranking systems. Bayesian analysis enables the True Skill ranking systems to identify player skill with great speed, to the extent that a new player joining a league consisting of a million players can be ranked accurately in fewer than 20 games.
  • Drivatars, a new form of artificial intelligence for Xbox's Forza Motorsport game, have enhanced racing gaming by giving gamers humanlike competition that greatly enhances the realism and the challenge of the racing experience.
  • IP network probing Xbox LiveTM provides online gaming and uses Microsoft Research technology to help ensure that gamers get the best online experience. This technology measures the connection quality between gamers players, pairing them with others who have similar connection speeds, which ensures a more equal gaming experience.
  • Graphics. Xbox® focuses on very realistic images and uses Microsoft Research graphics technology specifically for modeling animal fur.
  • Cryptography. Numerous Microsoft Research techniques are used in Xbox to help protect game quality and integrity. Consulting services and numerous technologies were provided.
  • Audio codecs. Just as in Windows, similar audio compression technologies are provided by Microsoft Research.
  • Code compression and optimization. Gaming requires a highly interactive environment. Microsoft Research technology has analyzed a number of games and has provided improved code optimization and code layout on the disk for faster gaming.

Visual Studio 2005

  • Generics is an extension to the .NET Common Intermediary Language that anables object-oriented code to be annotated with parameters that indicate how the code can be resused in different ways. It lets developers write more of their code in a way that is more reliable (has stronger static checking) without sacrificing efficiency or code flexibility. Generics metadata is understood by C#, Visual Basic, C++, and other .NET language compilers.

System Center Capacity Planner 2006

  • Capacity Planner modeling technology brings increased functionality and flexibility to the process of performance analysis and planning of system deployments. It enables users to create what-if scenarios and experiment with hardware and software configurations and user behavior before deploying on a live network.

Microsoft Digital Image Pro

  • Smart photo-stitching technology for manipulating and editing digital images makes it easier for users to take a group of photos and tell Digital Image Pro to "stitch" them together into panoramas. The software automatically determines which photos match and compensates for perspective distortions and different exposures.

Commerce Server 2000 and 2002

  • Business intelligence software allows Internet sites to better analyze, target and retain customers.

In addition, behind-the-scenes work by the following research groups has affected a broad set of Microsoft products:

Security and Cryptography

  • Windows
  • Microsoft Office
  • Windows Media Player
  • Microsoft Money
  • Microsoft Passport

Programmer Productivity Research Center

Once part of Microsoft Research, the PPRC transferred into the Windows Core Operating System Division in 2003. Most Microsoft product groups now use the developer tools that were created during the development of early versions of Windows and Office.

  • Source-code-analysis tool advancements enable developers to find more subtle and complex bugs.
  • Optimization tools optimize the load time, memory requirements, and overall performance of the operating system.
  • Static analysis tools identify defects in C/C++ programs, enabling developers to perform quick error detection on a subset of a program before checking that code into a main source tree.
  • Software model-checking tools find errors in Windows device drivers.
  • Additional developer tools assist with finding errors in managed code.

Information Retrieval and Natural Language Technologies

These technologies allow for advanced text analysis. In collaboration with the Natural Language Products Group, these technologies have been used to create grammar checkers, search and indexing systems, and query-analysis tools.

  • Microsoft Office
  • SharePoint Portal Server
  • Commerce Server
  • MSN Search
  • Internet Information Services
  • Encarta® multimedia encyclopedia
  • SQL Server natural language query

Bayesian Analysis

Technologies that build probabilistic models can be used to predict and anticipate users' behavior, preferences and needs, allowing software to automatically customize itself to a particular user.

  • Answer Wizard
  • Troubleshooters
  • Support.microsoft.com
  • Windows
  • Junk-mail filters
  • Outlook Mobile Manager
  • Data-mining technology in SQL Server and Commerce Server

Future Technology Transfer

Microsoft continues to work hard at transferring research technologies to Microsoft products. In the coming months and years, Microsoft expects to transfer work related to the following:

  • Electronic books display technologies and digital rights management
  • Speech and language technologies in a wide variety of products
  • Further improvements in database performance and data-mining components
  • The further evolution of the IPv6 standard
  • New and better interfaces for Asian-language input
  • Leading-edge cryptography algorithms
  • New codecs for better-quality digital media
  • Development and deployment tools and technologies to assist developer productivity
  • Improved interfaces for computers and devices with large displays

Microsoft, Windows, SmartScreen, Outlook, MSN, Hotmail, ClearType, DirectX, Windows NT, Windows Media, IntelliShrink, SharePoint, MapPoint, PowerPoint, OneNote, DirectBand, Xbox Live, Xbox, and Encarta are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.