Microsoft Research at a glance

February 2013

In 1991, Microsoft Corp. became one of the first software companies to create its own computer science research organization. Microsoft Research has developed into a unique entity among corporate research facilities, balancing an open academic model with an effective process for transferring its research to product development teams. Today, the world-renowned scientists of Microsoft Research make up one of the largest, and most highly respected, software research organizations in the world — one that will help define and redefine the computing experience for millions of people for decades to come.

From the beginning, fostering rapid and smooth technology transfer through deep relationships with Microsoft product groups has been a priority for Microsoft Research. Soon after its creation, Microsoft Research established a dedicated technology transfer team to help bridge the long-range research and near-term product development functions within Microsoft. The technology transfer program managers focus on building strong, collaborative partnerships between researchers and product teams to help fulfill a shared vision: seeing their innovative work reflected in improved software products for Microsoft customers. The benefits of this successful partnership can be seen throughout virtually every product Microsoft has delivered from Microsoft Windows 95 and Bing to the 2010 Microsoft Office system and Kinect for Xbox 360. Technologies developed within Microsoft Research are also licensed externally through the company’s intellectual property (IP) licensing program.

Open collaboration has been a priority for Microsoft Research from the beginning as well. Throughout its history, Microsoft Research has published more than 6,000 peer-reviewed publications. Many of these papers have been recognized with best-paper awards and are considered milestones in the field of research. In addition, Microsoft researchers work with scientists around the world to identify the greatest computer science and societal challenges, develop solutions, and continually explore possibilities for the future of computing.

Building a global think tank

Today, Microsoft Research has more than 1,000 brilliant scientists and engineers, including some of the world’s finest computer scientists, sociologists, psychologists, mathematicians, physicists and engineers, working across more than 55 areas of research. Although most of its researchers are based at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters, Microsoft Research has expanded globally to ensure that it can attract the richest pool of talent with 11 worldwide labs:

  • Microsoft Research Asia. Established in 1998 and located in Beijing, China, Microsoft Research Asia is Microsoft’s fundamental research arm in the Asia Pacific region. It conducts curiosity-driven research in areas such as natural user interfaces, next-generation multimedia, data-intensive computing and search, and online ads. By attracting the best talent from Asia and the world, Microsoft Research Asia has grown into a world-class research location with more than 250 researchers and developers.
  • Microsoft Research Cambridge. Established in 1997, Microsoft Research Cambridge in the United Kingdom was Microsoft’s first research laboratory to be established outside the United States. Today, more than 100 researchers from throughout Europe work in Cambridge on programming languages, machine learning, computer vision, human-computer interaction, operating systems, networking and computational science.
  • Microsoft Research New England. Opened in 2008, the New England location, based in Cambridge, Mass., is pursuing new, interdisciplinary areas of research that bring together computer scientists and social scientists to understand, model and enable the computing and online experiences of the future. The group’s work includes applied projects in areas as diverse as economics, social media and health care, as well as theoretical projects in areas such as mathematics and cryptography. In addition, Microsoft Research New England’s proximity to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and other institutions creates further opportunities for collaboration within and outside the field of computer science.
  • Microsoft Research New York City. Opened in 2012, the New York City lab represents some of the best and brightest minds in research working collaboratively with others in Microsoft Research and in academia to advance the state of the art in social science, both computational and behavioral, computational economics and prediction markets, machine learning, and information retrieval. Along with helping to answer "big data" questions, their research is helping us to understand economic and political predictions for understanding online human behavior. This research along with their study of social sciences will help to inform the technology of the future.
  • Microsoft Research Redmond. Microsoft Research was founded on the Redmond, Wash., campus of Microsoft Corp. in 1991 to support both basic and applied research without regard to product cycles. The Redmond lab has the greatest concentration of researchers, working across the broadest range of research areas in the company. Researchers in the Redmond lab focus on many different areas of research, including human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, search technologies, natural user interfaces (NUI), networking, HIV vaccine development and the theoretical mathematical underpinnings of computer science. Several projects cover multiple disciplines and may be found in more than one category.
  • Microsoft Research India. Since 2005, Microsoft Research India in Bangalore has been engaged in cutting-edge basic and applied research in algorithms, cryptography, systems, natural language processing, software engineering and the role of technology in socio-economic development. In addition to innovating and contributing key technologies to Microsoft products, the location collaborates with a wide range of scientific and academic institutions to advance the state of the art in computing research in India.
  • Advanced Technology Labs Cairo. Established in 2006 in Cairo, Egypt, this location houses more than two dozen researchers, developers and staff working on applied research and development projects that cover information retrieval (particularly in the Arabic language), collaboration technologies, and browsing and searching multimedia content on PCs and mobile devices. The center not only develops innovations suited to the Middle East and Africa, but also fosters and nurtures a strong local talent base for the region.
  • Advanced Technology Labs Europe. Founded in 2003 in Germany, the European Microsoft Innovation Center in Aachen is one of Microsoft’s facilities in Europe dedicated to collaborative research and technology development. Researchers at the facility work on projects in mobile applications, security and privacy for Web services and the connected home. Focused largely on applied research, the facility makes significant contributions to the public research programs of the European Commission and the German government.
  • FUSE Labs. Based in Redmond, Washington, Future Social Experiences (FUSE) Labs is an applied research team that ideates, develops, and delivers new social, real-time, media-rich experiences for home and work. FUSE Labs experiences give users new ways to create, connect and collaborate with the people, information and ideas that matter to them.
  • Advanced Technology Labs Israel. Advanced Technology Labs (ATL) Israel is a unique group of engineers, researchers, and user experience (UX) designers who focus on providing new ways to interact, explore, and enhance the online experience. ATL Israel works with product and research teams to ideate, develop, and implement new technologies and solutions for online services, computer vision, natural user interfaces, and social data mining.
  • Station Q. Station Q is a dedicated lab within Microsoft Research, located on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, working on topological quantum computing. The group combines researchers, theorists and experimentalists from mathematics, physics and computer science in partnership with academic and research institutions around the globe. Microsoft’s Station Q and its collaborators are exploring several theoretic and experimental approaches to create the quantum analog of the traditional bit—the qubit. The group is led by Dr. Michael Freedman, a renowned mathematician who has won the prestigious Fields Medal, the highest honor in mathematics.

Collaborative research

Microsoft Research collaborates with the world’s foremost researchers in academia, industry and government to move research in new directions across nearly every field of computer science, engineering and general science. Through global and regional initiatives, Microsoft aims to accelerate research and discovery and ultimately to help researchers and scientists address some of the toughest, most urgent societal and technological challenges.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. More than 1,000 brilliant scientists and engineers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and openly collaborate with leading academic, government, and industry researchers to advance the state of the art of computing, help fuel the long-term growth of Microsoft and its products, and solve some of the world’s toughest problems through technological innovation. Microsoft Research has expanded over the years to seven countries worldwide and brings together the best minds in computer science to advance a research agenda based on an array of unique talents and interests. Microsoft Research operates in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; New York City; Cambridge, U.K.; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India; and also conducts research at the Advanced Technology Labs Cairo in Egypt; the Advanced Technology Labs Europe in Aachen, Germany; Advanced Technology Labs in Israel; FUSE Labs in Redmond; and Station Q in Santa Barbara, Calif.

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