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Microsoft Technology

The Memo That Spawned Microsoft Research 148

An anonymous reader writes "In 1991, Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold wrote a 21-page memo to Bill Gates, laying out a plan to create what would become Microsoft Research. Here is the previously unpublished memo and some analysis, along with the original slides that Myhrvold used to pitch the idea to Microsoft's top brass. With the future of Microsoft now in question, it's interesting to see how forward-thinking the company was 20 years ago. It even foresaw how pitfalls in tech transfer, organizational structure, and product R&D could make it fall behind future competitors---who would turn out to be Google, Apple, and Amazon in search, mobile devices, and cloud computing."
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The Memo That Spawned Microsoft Research

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:18PM (#45005271)

    1) Research is good - every other large technology company does it
    2) An R&D department is relatively cheap compared to the money you might waste building the wrong things
    3) Let's set up a typical R&D department to do typical R&D things

    Zzzzzzzzzzzz....

    • Re:TL;DR Version (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:22PM (#45005329) Homepage Journal

      See, but Microsoft research actually has some great ideas, but the corporate leadership seems to always insist on chasing the previous latest thing, after the markets have established themselves.

    • Re:TL;DR Version (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cryptizard ( 2629853 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:23PM (#45005335)
      I don't know if it was their idea from the start, but MSR is hugely different from other companies' R&D. They operate more like a university. Researchers are free to work on anything they want, without consideration to whether it will directly effect a Microsoft product or not. It is one of the few places left outside academia where researchers can do basic research in computer science.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I don't know if it was their idea from the start, but MSR is hugely different from other companies' R&D. They operate more like a university. Researchers are free to work on anything they want, without consideration to whether it will directly effect a Microsoft product or not. It is one of the few places left outside academia where researchers can do basic research in computer science.

        I have no way to know if that's right or not, but I'm willing to concede that it's right. I wonder if the problem was that they accomplished nothing of value or if they did actually come up with great ideas, but the non-R&D management above them squelched them. In any event, Microsoft has always struck me as a reactionary rather than visionary, which is exactly why they are pursuing their current strategy of trying to become major players in phones and tablets. Microsoft just waits to see where every

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The problem is not the research, is the vision of the company echelons. Case in point, the MS Courier was an innovative device I would love to have, but Ballmer killed it because conflicted with his vision of unified Windows and the Office line. Instead, he got tickets to the season 2 of tablet craze and started throwing tantrums and chairs when realized he was outselled by Apple, then Android then eveyone else and their cat.

        • Re:TL;DR Version (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @04:01PM (#45006505) Homepage

          Microsoft has mainly focused on implementing in a way that reduces labor (i.e. simplicity of configuration and administration) and software costs as a business strategy. On the OS side and the compiler side of the house they are tremendously innovative, I don't think you can question their accomplishments there. I think there is a tendency not to consider things like the design of the Microsoft networking stack or the internal structures for C# compilers when talking about Microsoft.

        • by TopherC ( 412335 )

          It sounded to me like article is responding to a change in management (Peter Lee taking the reigns). It's not very direct about what it's advocating however, probably there's some inside context for this. The following points stood out to me:

          - Research is not advanced development on potential new products
          - Research areas should be carefully chosen with an eye toward giving the company an edge

          That first point is probably what Bob Buderi is most concerned about. Management may be pushing Micro

      • Re:TL;DR Version (Score:5, Insightful)

        by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @03:12PM (#45005899)

        Err, that's true of all old school tech R&D. Look at Xerox PARC, HP Labs, or especially the now-defunct Bell Labs, who gave us modern computing.

        Research that needs to have ROI is not research.

      • Re:TL;DR Version (Score:5, Insightful)

        by citizenr ( 871508 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @03:15PM (#45005945) Homepage

        Yes, they let them research the shit out of stuff, and then SHELVE IT AND NEVER USE IT.
        M$ R&D department has only one role - to slurp up all the Stanford/mit/caltech they can get their hands on and deny other big corps (FB/google/amazon) that brainpower.

        • by 0ld_d0g ( 923931 )

          Yes, they let them research the shit out of stuff, and then SHELVE IT AND NEVER USE IT.

          Who cares if they shelve it as long as they publish it. Just last week I benefited from their research. MSR has a paper on resolution independent curve rendering and using that technique to render text using implicit curves. People are using that to render fonts inside the pixel shader w/o any font/graphics API !

          M$ R&D department has only one role - to slurp up all the Stanford/mit/caltech they can get their hands on and deny other big corps (FB/google/amazon) that brainpower.

          Some evil trickery forces people to apply for jobs? MSR has a Vulcan mind meld?

          Besides.. I'm happy if they hire the smartest people and keep publishing papers. Everyone gets to benefit.

          • Who cares if they shelve it as long as they publish it. Just last week I benefited from their research. MSR has a paper on resolution independent curve rendering and using that technique to render text using implicit curves. People are using that to render fonts inside the pixel shader w/o any font/graphics API !

            did you license the patent?

        • by bmajik ( 96670 )

          Disclaimer: I've been a Microsoft employee since 2000.

          I can tell you that this is demonstrably false. I personally worked on an MSR technology transfer effort.

          I won't go too much into the details, but a group at MSR had developed some tools that did some interesting binary instrumentation, and did some very interesting analysis on data you captured from using these instrumented binaries.

          This toolchain needed to be integrated into the build process and test process for your codebase, but once you did that w

      • by Quila ( 201335 )

        From the article, Myhrvold said the head of the lab shoulc be "similar to the chairman of a computer science department in a university," so you are right.

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )

        MSR is hugely different from other companies' R&D. They operate more like a university. Researchers are free to work on anything they want, without consideration to whether it will directly effect a Microsoft product or not. It is one of the few places left outside academia where researchers can do basic research in computer science.

        I think that describes the environment at Xerox PARC, Bell Labs, HP Labs, IBM Research and other predecessors perfectly. Microsoft Research was not unusual when it was foun

        • So the GP is not too far off in saying that Microsoft's R&D department operates much like other R&D departments, as long as you consider only its immediate environment: Microsoft Research is very similar to other research departments operated by technology giants. The only difference I can find (aside from the 20 years of difference) is that its wiki page does not have a list of technologies developed there.
    • But how did they know to come up with that without an R&D department to do the R&D on creating an R&D department?

    • Building the wrong things? The mantra in corporate fantasyland these days is: "buy not build" (that little sentence looks a bit crappy but that is how I've always seen it presented or pronounced). This mostly applies to not re-inventing the wheel for mundane tasks and buying COTS packages instead of building a custom solution (sounds good but I still see it fail in spectacular ways). Anyways, for certain companies like Microsoft, this seems to apply to R&D as well: do not invent, but buy a nimble, in
      • by pepty ( 1976012 )
        Same thing in the Pharma branch of fantasyland: ILOS (in-license, out-source). Makes perfect sense: why would a VP wait 3-10 years to find out if a research program is going to pan out when they can buy someone else's drug candidates, declare immediate victory, and get promoted before the drugs flop in clinical trials?
    • Note that the memo is presented here by Xconomy, which happens to have this guy [xconomy.com] as a member 'Xconomist'. So, read just the memo if you care, but skip the puffery all around it.

    • by EvanED ( 569694 )

      MS Research is not a typical R&D department. It's much more along the lines of something like Bell Labs than anything else. The only other industry research lab that even comes close to MSR currently is IBM's.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:24PM (#45005347)

    he started intellectual ventures some years later

    • Yup, he's Evil (tm). Even so, take a look at Intellectual Ventures; they take an unusual approach (for patent trolls). What Nathan learned from his time at Microsoft Research is that such a setup is great at generating ideas. And at IV, they do just that: farming ideas, without having to go to the trouble of actually turning these ideas into practical, marketable products. That is left as an exercise for the poor saps who think they've come up with an innovation until IV's lawyer pops round with an infr
    • You don't get it. For these people, it's not about technology. It's not about creating cool toys or making fancy gadgets. It's not about progress. They don't do these things for the love of the field or their profession (which as an executive of Microsoft, basically amounts to being a liar, cheat, and swindler).

      It's about money. That's how they keep score between each other.

    • > he started intellectual ventures some years later

      I think you mean Intellectual Vultures.
  • by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:26PM (#45005371)
    .....and then Nathan Myhrvold got rich and went on to found an international patent troll predatory capitalist firm ---- that ole Nathan is soooo productive ---- OR NOT!
    • How is a company using the government to coerce other companies to obey some nebulous (and dubious) "intellectual property" rights even remotely capitalist? Fascist, maybe, but not capitalist.
  • It even foresaw how pitfalls in tech transfer, organizational structure, and product R&D could make it fall behind future competitors

    Microsoft had to learn, just like I did, that there is a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.

  • A good idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:32PM (#45005447) Homepage Journal

    but it only works if you follow through on that knowledge to get an early foothold. You can identify as many future trends as you want without effectively getting to market early enough for it to matter with a good enough product to stick. The only thing that accomplishes is it gives you the ability to say "I knew that was coming!" And it's not just those who don't get into the market. It's also those who don't keep up with the competition. Palm and Blackberry offered the most widely used products of their type at one point, and now people giggle if you still have one.

  • Future!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dittbub ( 2425592 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:34PM (#45005469)
    Why is Microsoft's future in question?
    • by 0racle ( 667029 )
      Because this is Slashdot. BTW, it's also the year of the Linux desktop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steelfood ( 895457 )

      In a word: Metro.

      That's the biggest sign of Microsoft losing focus. When their little side projects (Zune, Kin, XBox etc.) stayed side projects, it didn't matter whether it failed or not because they didn't affect the money train of Windows and Office. But when their copy-of-a-competitor-and-almost-guaranteed-to-fail side projects start worming their way into their traditional, core, revenue-generating products, then it becomes a big, big problem.

      And not only did Metro infect their consumer products, but al

      • Re:Future!? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @04:02PM (#45006525) Homepage

        How is Metro a lack of innovation? They are the first major company to move towards ubiquitous computing. You may not like Metro but the ideas behind Metro are brave and complex (i.e. requiring innovation).

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          Because an interface designed for phones and tablets doesn't work well on a 27" 1080p monitor with a standard keyboard and mouse?

          • by jbolden ( 176878 )

            First off Windows 8 isn't designed for a keyboard, mouse desktop system. For that sort of system you should have a digitizer with the 27" acting as a paired interface. Try that same setup but with the Surface Pro running Windows 8 to get a feel for how that should be working. Or try it with a Wacom.

            But regardless, you are complaining you don't like it. That doesn't say anything one way or the other about innovation.

            • by Pulzar ( 81031 )

              Nobody was asking about innovation in this particular thread. The question at hand is "why is microsoft's future in jeopardy?".

              Metro might be innovative, but it's also driven the rest of my family away from laptops and Windows. We're back to the old days of sharing one desktop when heavy usage is needed, and non-Microsoft tablets and phones are used for everything else. That's not the direction they wanted to go in, I'm sure.

            • Which is EXACTLY why Win8 should have had a "Classic Desktop" mode for those systems that are not touch based.

              Ford would not build a car with a JetFighter interface and stop selling "Classic Interface" cars just to be Modern (and serve the new JetFighter division).

        • by plopez ( 54068 )

          Just because ideas are brave and complex does not mean they are good ideas. And complex, to me, just seems wrong. KISS.

        • They have attempted to use a single interface on small mobile phones, tablets, Home PC's, General business workstations, Servers, High end workstations, etc .etc .. and failed because it is most likely impossible to make a single interface that will comfortably accommodate all these environments

          What they have ended up with is an interface that will only satisfy some of the customers on some of these devices ... and so will shrink their market share not grow it as they hoped

          • by jbolden ( 176878 )

            It may be impossible it may not. If it is impossible then they were wrong. That doesn't mean they were lacking innovation, those are two different axis. I agree they may very well fail, maybe are likely to fail. On the other hand, in all honesty I've used it on a small tablet and I've used it on a keyboard, mouse, large screen (though with a touch tablet to run the Metro GUI) and it works pretty darn well there too. The people it doesn't seem to work well for are people who have Windows 7 hardware.

        • How is Metro a lack of innovation?

          It wasn't an example of their lack of innovation. It was an example of why their future is in question. It changed the workflow of their entire OS requiring retraining for essentially every business user out there. Even if trainers don't have to be called in, it's still a hit to business workflow in an amount that I bet somebody someplace has put a dollar amount on. What's worse, is that I really don't see any reason for it except for change for the sake of change. Nothing really works any better than it di

          • by jbolden ( 176878 )

            The ribbon is change for the sense of complexity. Context sensitive menus allow you to add complexity to a product. Embeddable icons make sense. Compare the number of available icons in 2010 to those in 2000. Now imagine if this idea were taken further.

            As far as more clicks for Windows 8. I don't think that's true, on the right hardware. Absolutely it is worse with Windows 7 hardware. Microsoft's biggest mistake, the same mistake they made with Vista is allowing Windows 7 machines to upgrade and allow

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Easy, because they can't "innovate" as they have done in the past because Apple and Google are too big to buy. Even so, they can trow a large amount of money to nokia for them to go under with them, and to some airplane companies to come forward and say they will use their products, even when infuriating their own employees, which is quite a brilliant strategy, lets say.
    • I don't know, but Microsoft is sure acting like its future is in question.

      We have Microsoft's thrashing around in the smartphone and tablet markets, for which they're willing to compromise the Windows cash cow. We have Ballmer trying to make Microsoft into a "devices and services" company, which is an awfully big change for a company that big - particularly when it's still quite profitable. In doing this, Microsoft is souring relations with its resellers. We have the internal reorg. In all this turmo

  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:35PM (#45005477)

    Seriously, timothy thinks the future of Microsoft is "now in question?" That would be an accurate thing to say about Research In Motion, but Microsoft isn't in bankruptcy or anything. It's not even operating at a loss. [microsoft.com]

    It's certainly true that Microsoft is past its halcyon days, and lacks either a coherent vision or any real popularity, but that doesn't mean it's on the brink of collapse.

    • Microsoft is in the past, if you ask me.

      Show of hands, everybody: Who hasn't used Windows for work nor leisure in the last ten years? (Tech-support for parents and friends doesn't count).
      • by 0racle ( 667029 )

        (Tech-support for parents and friends doesn't count)

        You just killed your own point.

      • Thats sorta like asking people for a show of hands of who wants an apple, then insisting that if you dont like apples, thats not a reason to not raise your hand...

      • by Xest ( 935314 )

        I suspect anyone who puts their hand up is lying. There are still various systems using Windows from self-serve tills to ATMs, to railway ticket machines, to airline flight time boards.

        If you've never used any of these things in 15 years then you obviously don't step outside, ever.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "future in question" doesn't have to imply on the brink of bankruptcy/collapse... It literally means that it's future is uncertain. It's a meaningless sentence since, technically, the future is always uncertain to some extent.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Twenty years ago the future of MS was in question. The internet was a thing, the WWW was beginning, and we were using Mosaic and many of us would soon move to Netscape. MS, who knew that if the application front end moved form a proprietary application to a generic, open source, open standard web browser, their reign of terror over an unsuspecting population would be over. So they created iE, borked the standard, and engaged in 10 year dark age where the web was not compatible with non MS devices.

      Now,

      • by ruir ( 2709173 )
        Your sir, you rock. That is exactly the problem of MS nowadays, that it can't extend their predatory model to the tablet/phone world, and Apple is too big to buy. and about them being obsolete, they should have had started worrying with that in 2000, not now.
    • by funkboy ( 71672 )

      I think he meant "the future of M$ leadership now in question" given that the "chair" is on the way out; it's just phrased poorly...

  • Microsoft research (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:35PM (#45005487) Homepage

    Microsoft research [microsoft.com] is doing some amazing things. Also there is a lot of content from the research group on Channel 9 [msdn.com]. Microsoft's problem is that their userbase is conservative. But as a result of their research they could at will turn on the tap and have tremendous innovations pouring out.

    For example Microsoft people (its open source but the contributors are mainly Microsoft) developed C-- which is a portable assembly language which has tail recursion, accurate garbage collection or efficient exception handling. I don't think anyone could follow how much this group does but from innovations in compilers, new systems for concurrency, new algorithms, computation biology.... it is frankly amazing. I only wish Microsoft was more aggressive in pushing their products to adopt more from their research team. Much as the slides talk about the problem Xerox had with Parc, Microsoft has the same problem.

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @03:19PM (#45005999)
      Microsoft Research is the good side of Microsoft. They have done a lot of things, like a lot of GPU related features that everyone benefits from are because MS Research worked with GPU manufactures, other PHDs, and Kernel designers to create better scalable GPUs that interface better with all OSes. Most of their research is open, which also includes work on custom built 256core SMP systems that used fiber-optic IO channels, and worked with Intel and others on how to design OS Kernels and hardware that work well together. Because this research is open, it has helped Linux, BSD, and others.

      MS Research has a lot of great minds and they help bring together Software and Hardware and work as middle-men to help manufacturers on both sides.
    • Also there is a lot of content from the research group on Channel 9 [msdn.com].

      Another vote for Channel 9. One of the best side-things Microsoft is currently churning out.

    • by devent ( 1627873 )

      Can you show some examples of Microsoft research?
      In the Channel 9 I only see Windows Phone, Azure, Kinect, some drivers, ...?
      Do you mean "C--" as in C minus minus?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by EvanED ( 569694 )

        Can you show some examples of Microsoft research?

        Pick any top-tier CS conference. They'll probably have something there.

        For example, OSDI '12 [usenix.org] (MSR personnel on 5 papers, 2 of which all coauthors worked at MSR), PLDI 2012 [purdue.edu] (MSR personnel on 6 papers), SIGGRAPH 2013 [siggraph.org] (harder to sort through, but I count 16 papers with at least one MSR co-author), VLDB 2011 [vldb.org] (8 research papers as well as several other things like demos, a keynote, an industrial paper, and a 10-year-retrospective best paper award), STOC 2013 [stanford.edu] (16 papers if I counted right!), etc.

        Seriously, I was

        • A friend of mine who was the sole author of a best paper in STOC 2013 just got offered and accepted a post-doc in Microsoft Research.

          Knowing his general research area, (i.e. all abstract theory and absolutely no application all -- in case you don't know which STOC 2013 paper I'm referring to, it's the one where you have no idea what the abstract is talking about), I start to wonder why Microsoft is pumping so much money into Microsoft Research.

          Seems funny after reading this from TFA:

          Myhrvold identified three key advantages that research can provide a company: a time advantage in introducing new products and technologies; better access to strategic technology; and knowledge and intellectual property for the company. âoeYou shouldnâ(TM)t start research in an area unless there is a strong chance of getting a unique edge in one of these three ways.â (p. 9)

          I'm starting to think MS

      • by Horshu ( 2754893 )
        MSR did the implementation for .Net generics. They incubated Linq (via C-Omega). There's the Reactive Framework. Code Contracts comes from them. Tons of AI work. Michael Abrash worked there for a while on natural language.
  • by PoliTech ( 998983 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:36PM (#45005499) Homepage Journal
    "With the future of Microsoft now in question ..." Huh? Who is questioning the future of Microsoft? Ya got a link timothy?
    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Who is questioning the future of Microsoft?

      Most of the tech industry?

      I certainly have a hard time seeing why anyone will care about Microsoft in ten years. Maybe even five, if they keep producing crap like Window 8.

      Maybe Google will buy them, just for grins.

    • by funkboy ( 71672 )

      I think he meant "the future of M$ leadership now in question" given that the "chair" is on his way out; he just phrased it in an unclear way...

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      You need a link for that? In which cave have you been living in the last couple of decades?
      • Back in my cave in Oct 1993 the MS stock price was $2.68 Today in my cave the Oct 2013 MS stock price: 33.28 This year alone MS's stock price as gone up more than six dollars.
  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @02:46PM (#45005627)

    Comparing Microsoft then and now and you've got to make a number of comparisons on why they grew back then compared to being stagnant as week old molasses now.

    No stack ranking. Employees could focus on their job instead of everyone else's job.
    More risk taking. They were willing to try new products without worrying nearly as much about eating into their own sales for another product.
    Diversity. This was when Windows NT 3.1 was about to be released and it supported DEC Alpha as well as MIPS CPU's.
    Mind-share. They realized mind share was more important than an iron fisted DRM approach and didn't get absurd with DRM.
    Cheaper. At that time Unix workstations were a fair bit more expensive than Windows based computers and Microsoft was actually the cheaper option for the masses.
    Options. You could run just about anything you wanted with their common platform.

    I've got to imagine that I'm far from the only person that misses Microsoft from the days of old, before they became soul crushing monopoly that destroyed innovation at every opportunity. Would you believe people actually camped out overnight for Windows 95 and stores opened up at midnight just to sell it?

    Microsoft has since declared war on their employees, vendors, professionals, OEM's and just about everyone else in the industry. Nowadays they pull stunts like the Windows RT walled garden and call that diversity. Microsoft used to be a great company, but today that's as much history as the DEC Alpha.

    • Comparing Microsoft then and now and you've got to make a number of comparisons on why they grew back then compared to being stagnant as week old molasses now.

      No stack ranking...SNIP...

      You can stop right there.

      • by Pulzar ( 81031 )

        Every tech company I've worked at had some kind of a version of "stack ranking", and some were dysfunctional and some functioned very well. I don't think stack ranking has anything to do with it... It's a simple math problem --- you have some amount of money to divvy up, and you have to identify the most important and most worthy people to spend the most on. I think most people understand that.

        The alternative of giving everybody the same reward only works at the smallest companies where the general performa

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      The only thing I can see now and then, is that they lost they foothold of OEM bullying with vendors with the mobile platform, and Apple and Google are too big for them to "innovate" as usual, trowing money around to buy the new products (i.e. too big to buy). That is the bigger of their problems
    • Diversity. This was when Windows NT 3.1 was about to be released and it supported DEC Alpha as well as MIPS CPU's.

      Diversity was never in favor at MS. They were forced to support DEC Alpha. The NT team had been recruited straight from DEC, and when DEC complained, MS agreed to support Alpha with their new OS. Which did not prevent DEC from wasting the opportunity they had with Alpha, but this is a different story. See http://www.bolenk.com/computer/history-of-windows-nt.php [bolenk.com]

      • Thanks for the link and bit on the DEC Alpha. I had always understood Microsoft's standpoint on diversity as one meant to prevent a single supplier from being able to do them as they did to others.

  • From the perspective of an academic MSR is a fantastic place, in the same way as an all inclusive resort would be fantastic place from the perspective of a vacationing tourist.

    From the perspective of the corporation MSR is suboptimal way to establish an R&D arm. This imperils the very existence of MSR since there is no direct or indirect revenue connection to the work in MSR. This much was clear from day one and perfectly consistent with the small stature of Nathan Myrhvold, a patent troll and poseur wh

  • it's interesting to see how forward-thinking the company was 20 years ago.

    If Microsoft really were forward thinking 20 years ago, they would not be having the troubles they are currently having.

  • Pioneers in many areas have moved to MSR. From a few I have had a please to interact mentioned MSR positively. It is indeed a great place where these individuals are spared from structure, hierarchy, deadlines and funding issues.
  • by funkboy ( 71672 ) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @06:53PM (#45009005) Homepage

    Embrace, Extend, Extinguish?

  • They come up with some good ideas in research. Their main problem IMO is that they are too conservative about releasing some of their projects, or in some cases emphasizing them (i.e. keeping indexed searches off by default until Google Toolbar started doing fast desktop searches). They've got infrastructure out the wazoo, but it's rare that the fully utilize it.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.

Working...