Microsoft Research turns 15

Microsoft Research is celebrating its 15-year anniversary by showing off new technology at an event in Redmond, Washington.

Microsoft's research arm is celebrating its 15-year anniversary this week by patting itself on the back for creating innovating technology and showing off some new work being done in the group.

Microsoft Research held an event at Microsoft's Washington, campus Tuesday where Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates appeared via video to applaud the organization, Microsoft said.

"During the past 15 years, Microsoft researchers have contributed amazing breakthroughs and insights that have advanced the state of the art in dozens of technology fields," Gates said in his talk, according to a press statement. "Their work is a clear reflection of Microsoft's commitment to innovation."

Microsoft Research was founded in 1991, and works independent of the product groups to invent new technology. It also works with academic programs and provides grants to help promote IT research and innovation in universities.

At Tuesday's event, the research team demonstrated some new technologies currently in development, Microsoft said. They included visualization technologies that combine maps from Windows Live Local with other maps -- such as those of bike trails or bus routes -- to create hybrid maps that can be helpful to users.

Other technologies demonstrated included one that allowed images and data to be displayed projector-like on tabletops, walls and other surfaces and manipulated with hand gestures -- thus doing away with the need for a mouse or monitor -- and graphics technology for transforming two-dimensional images into 3D graphics, Microsoft said.

While not all of the technologies developed within Microsoft Research make it into actual products, some recent ones that have will be included in the forthcoming Windows Vista OS, Microsoft said. They include new desktop search technologies that allow users to locate anything stored on their computer quickly, as well as technology for providing a unified user experience for searching on both the Web and locally on the desktop, Microsoft said.

Microsoft Research has more than 700 researchers at five laboratories around the world. Aside from Washington, the research group has labs in Beijing; Bangalore, India; Cambridge, England; and California.

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