Inside Microsoft's research labs

Microsoft demos its vision of the future

Microsoft Research recently held its annual display of current projects. We take a look at some of the products that realistically could make it through to consumers.

Another wireless invention from Microsoft researchers could help improve the way devices such as the Zune use Wi-Fi networks. While many engineers have worked on systems for optimising the use of radio spectrum, this one is different, said Thomas Moscibroda, a Microsoft researcher. The project he is working on dynamically narrows the wireless channel that a device is using. Typically, Wi-Fi devices use a 20MHz-wide channel. Microsoft's software, however, can dynamically adjust that down to 5 or 10MHz, depending on the application.

Using less of the channel cuts the power consumption of the device and improves range, although it throttles the throughput. In a practical application, a Zune, for example, might use a very narrow channel to look for other nearby Zunes. When a user decided to send a song via Wi-Fi to a friend, the Zune could automatically switch to the full 20MHz channel to speed up transmission of the song.

Moscibroda and his colleagues used standard hardware components for the Wi-Fi project and combined them with firmware they developed. Another researcher showed off technology that can dynamically adjust a home network so designated applications get bandwidth priority. A home network may serve multiple computers and multiple users, each with conflicting needs, noted Thomas Karagiannis, a Microsoft researcher. The software he helped develop, which must operate on each of the computers in a home network, can be used to prioritise applications. In one example, a parent who works from home can set her work applications as the top priority, so that a child watching YouTube doesn't slow down her work.

A couple of social-networking applications were also on display at TechFest. Blews is a site that would let users see at a glance which news stories are being blogged about most and which have the most passionate blog postings. A demonstration site lists snippets of political news stories, featuring a tab on the left with the number of liberal sites that have blogged about the story and a tab on the right with the number of conservative sites blogging about it. Small dots on either side indicate the level of emotion in the blog posts.

While some of the projects have public-facing websites, some don't. They are created by the 800 researchers at Microsoft Research who work in offices around the world. Some of their projects, but not all, are eventually incorporated into commercial Microsoft projects. Part of the reason for holding the annual TechFest event is to allow other Microsoft employees to see the types of projects the researchers are developing.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

PC Advisor (UK)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?