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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 8, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Microsoft’s Vista design lead to head social computing lab

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, has shuffled the organization of several advanced research teams into a new “future social experiences” group called Fuse Labs.

Fuse “will explore new social, real-time and media-rich applications and services that add value to existing products, or could be released on their own,” the company’s announcement said.

The group will be led by Lili Cheng, head of Microsoft Research’s Creative Systems group. Earlier she led the Windows user experience team when it produced Vista, and worked at Apple before joining Microsoft in 1995.

Redmond-based FUSE has 82 employees. It consolidates Cheng’s Creative Systems group and the Rich Media and Startup labs in Cambridge, Mass.

Reed Sturtevant, who founded the Startup Labs in 2007, is leaving the company, a spokesman confirmed.

In an email to employees, Ozzie explained the context, noting that “social” technologies have been considered in terms of communication and collaboration, meaning they related to capabilities such as messaging, collaboration and meetings:

More recently, many factors have begun to transform all that which is ‘social’: the ever-present, high-bandwidth internet both wired and wireless; the ease of connecting people; the dramatic rise in digital cameras, camera phones and ‘app-capable’ phones; net-connected game consoles & TVs; and so on.

Myriad scenarios involving the notion of ‘social’ have now gone far beyond communications and collaboration and are transforming experiences that are key to our customers and key to our business, in leisure & entertainment; productivity & teamwork; experiences extending how we use the OS itself.

The three groups being combined have concrete skills and code in areas where ‘social’ meets sharing; where ‘social’ meets real-time; where ‘social’ meets media; where ‘social’ meets search; where ‘social’ meets the cloud plus three screens and a world of devices.

The Fuse lab “will bring more coherence and capability to those advanced development projects where they’re already actively collaborating with product groups to help them succeed with ‘leapfrog’ efforts,” he wrote, adding that it will prioritize and apply its efforts “to areas where the company’s extant missions, structures, tempo or risk might otherwise cause us to miss a material threat or opportunity.”

Comments | Topics: fuse, labs, Microsoft

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