since 2003 we have a research and development facility in Aachen here in Germany. It is called EMIC and Lori just visited those guys to get a glimpse of what they do.
You can find the videos on Channel9 in Lori’s section:
It is interesting to see in which fields they do their work. Also it is worth noticing that the EMIC is related to MS Research but sits somewhat in between MS Research (which is focused on the 7+ years view) and the product groups (which are focused on the today).
A lot of the work of the EMIC is intended to be published (most of the time together with industry and public partners) in a near time frame.
For me the EMIC is a very interesting facility. The necessity of research (which should be free from product thinking and such) is obvious: This is the think tank to come up with the very new ideas. Some (or should I say most) of which might never make it in the product. Lots of things developed at AT&T, Bell Labs or Xerox Parc never made it in products. Some of them did and some of those changed the world (even if neither Bell, AT&T nor Xerox were the companies to benefit the most…strange in a sense).
On the other hand visions stay illusions unless somebody implements it and make it a product. Here kicks EMIC in…
Another interesting approach is www.officelabs.com. See ideas like InkSeine or Speed Launch. Simple and smart ideas. Build by Microsofties to help their everyday work and broad online on this panel. I have seen some bits and pieces which might show up there in the near future… uh, stay tuned 😉
SO, innovation as a process has different faces at Microsoft these days.