Microsoft to Launch Live Labs Net Research

MIcrosoft today announced the formation of Microsoft Live Labs, a partnership between MSN and Microsoft Research to develop applied research programs focusing on Internet technology. As the name suggests, one area where Live Labs will concentrate effort is Windows Live, Microsoft’s forthcoming Internet-based application and services suite.

Live Labs will be run by Dr. Gary William Flake, now a Microsoft technical fellow and formerly head of Yahoo’s R&D efforts as well as Chief Science Officer at Overture. “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 expected to work on applications and applied technologies in the areas of multimedia search, distributed computing, data mining (a topic Flake worked on at NEC), machine learning, with an eye toward immediately applicable technologies which can quickly be put into the hands (and hard drives) of everyday computers users. Live Labs won’t be turning its back on academia, however, and plans to offer a range of grants, sabbaticals, internships, and fellowships to academic researchers and students.

Microsoft also announced it has hired Dr. Ashok Chandra to head up its Search Labs, to be split between Redmond and Microsoft’s campus in Mountain View, California. Despite being one of the leading online portals, Microsoft’s Internet search offers have always been an also-ran behind competitors Yahoo and Google. Search Labs will focus on areas of personalization, socialization, privacy, and user experience.