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Microsoft Research

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Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Microsoft Research

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Steve Jones - SSC Editor (5/4/2013)
Comments posted to this topic are about the item <A HREF="/articles/Editorial/98784/">Microsoft Research</A>

It seems to me as if our country has all but abandoned research compared to what we were doing back when Kennedy threw down his challenge about space. Part of that may be due to things like greed. Some companies just don't want to spend money to learn about new technologies. Most of the time they prefer to simply purchase smaller companies, stifling that innovation.

Those that are doing research are attacked and sued over their success - "you didn't build that" was not the first such attack on successful business. Drug companies and durable health care producers are demonized every day. Microsoft may be the first company to survive these attacks and still flourish. IBM never recovered fully. Apple is starting to see that, but as of yet is too popular for it take take root.

I agree that there is a lot of corporate greed, and that a lot of workers are taken advantage of. I also understand that it takes a LOT of money to conduct pure research. Giving a group of people money and telling them to go learn something, anything, is a thing of the past. Yet it was the most productive way to conduct research. Today, most research seems to be targeted at specific issues, and unfortunately sometimes the "research" isn't about discovering the truth, only about furthering the goals of the funding group.

I am not surprised that Microsoft is leading the charge. I am disappointed that so many other companies have given up. I have respect for Microsoft, but it sure would be better if the effort were spread around.

Dave
Miles Neale
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The idea of large companies seeking to polish the core product instead of expanding is almost un-American. And the idea that now that a huge company has all the money they will ever need and they should hold back on research is just silly. Most companies believe in grow or die, and that means both internal growth and creativity as well as buying creativity if you have the monies.

Many do not like the idea of Microsoft or other larger companies buying companies that are new and creative, I do not. The company is purchased not annihilated. The hostile take over if it is hostile is not a scorched earth policy where all are killed an no prisoners are taken. Microsoft, Google, EMC, Intel and other huge companies pay very good money to the creators and founders of the corporations they buy. And many of them are absorbed into the company at a very high salary with many benefits.

All this does not mean that huge corporations are demonic nor evil, for they have only done what we all wish we had done or hope we can do someday. I say let them rock-and-roll. Let Intel make ketchup if they want, and EMC manufacture locates that go 150 mph who cares. Let someone spend enough money in research that scientists can understand the electronics of the human eye and how images can be digitized and transported to the brain, resolving human blindness for all time. And if they find this out as they are researching voice over internet, or how to make a verbal input system for Word so be it.

And BTW if I had a company Microsoft wanted to buy for a ton of money, I would dance all the way to the bank, and start planning the next company after I had the deposit done.

Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!
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Miles Neale (5/6/2013)
The idea of large companies seeking to polish the core product instead of expanding is almost un-American. And the idea that now that a huge company has all the money they will ever need and they should hold back on research is just silly. Most companies believe in grow or die, and that means both internal growth and creativity as well as buying creativity if you have the monies.


If American business really believed in growth, they would be more likely to set aside short term growth and profits for long term viability and profits. Unfortunately the design of our system, while very good, can lead to short sighted thinking. A LOT of businesses pursue current year profits at the expense of future growth. We see it all the time. One example from my own experience is an opertaions manager that needed to meet certain numbers to earn a bonus. He moved future business into the current month to increase his numbers. The next month he was short and had to do it again. And again. And again.

Are we talking about privately owned business, small corporations, large corporations, fortune 500? Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and are affected differently by the requirements they operate under. Apple is being pressurred very heavily to return profits to investors. I for one hope they ignore that, and continue to innovate and produce superior products. It takes money to engage in research. Apple would not be here if it weren't for what I remember as a $500 million dollar investment from Microsoft quite a while back. Obviously Apple benefitted, but I think Microsoft did as well.

Dave
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djackson 22568 (5/6/2013)
If American business really believed in growth, they would be more likely to set aside short term growth and profits for long term viability and profits. Unfortunately the design of our system, while very good, can lead to short sighted thinking. A LOT of businesses pursue current year profits at the expense of future growth. We see it all the time.


Too true. And actually, it's usually not even current year. It's current quarter.
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marcia.j.wilson (5/6/2013)
djackson 22568 (5/6/2013)
If American business really believed in growth, they would be more likely to set aside short term growth and profits for long term viability and profits. Unfortunately the design of our system, while very good, can lead to short sighted thinking. A LOT of businesses pursue current year profits at the expense of future growth. We see it all the time.


Too true. And actually, it's usually not even current year. It's current quarter.

BIG SMILE
Mea Culpa!

Dave
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The lack of investment in research is mirrored in the lack of investment in training.

I worked for a guy who reckoned that a new employee only became really valuable after 18 months with a company because it would take them that long to work out how the business worked and the various nuances. OK, so he was talking about fairly senior roles but investing in someone who knows your business sounds like common sense to me.

If you don't invest in research your products are always going to be "me too" products. Granted that research is expensive and there is a risk that it might not pay off or more likely its worth might not be recognised as per IBM and the relational database!

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Miles Neale
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djackson 22568 (5/6/2013)
Miles Neale (5/6/2013)
The idea of large companies seeking to polish the core product instead of expanding is almost un-American. And the idea that now that a huge company has all the money they will ever need and they should hold back on research is just silly. Most companies believe in grow or die, and that means both internal growth and creativity as well as buying creativity if you have the monies.


If American business really believed in growth, they would be more likely to set aside short term growth and profits for long term viability and profits. Unfortunately the design of our system, while very good, can lead to short sighted thinking. A LOT of businesses pursue current year profits at the expense of future growth. We see it all the time. One example from my own experience is an opertaions manager that needed to meet certain numbers to earn a bonus. He moved future business into the current month to increase his numbers. The next month he was short and had to do it again. And again. And again.

Are we talking about privately owned business, small corporations, large corporations, fortune 500? Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and are affected differently by the requirements they operate under. Apple is being pressurred very heavily to return profits to investors. I for one hope they ignore that, and continue to innovate and produce superior products. It takes money to engage in research. Apple would not be here if it weren't for what I remember as a $500 million dollar investment from Microsoft quite a while back. Obviously Apple benefitted, but I think Microsoft did as well.



Those who watch the bottom line are those who keep many busy and the customer satisfied. They are needed and they are many. But they are not concerned with the future. Only the now. They are those who ask what have you done for me recently or what are you doing now. Their primary concern is how can what you do make me money now.

I get it.

But the real idea is to make enough money and progress to be able to afford positions who are reaching out in to the unknown searching for the next great thing. Jobs and Gates and others have done this. It is a shame how many minds have been lost to the Now machine that could have changed the world if we had let them do so.

We cannot afford to require the creative geniuses of this world to flip burgers just to get by. They need good equipment, a budget, and the time to let their imagination mature to a product. They need to be able to research...

Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!
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One need only remember Bell Labs. They were allowed to do research for the sake of research without having to worry about a bottom line. Yet look at all of what they discovered and/or developed. They may have been viewed as not profitable by today's standard of looking only at the now or the current quarter, but look at the influence that their discoveries have made to the bottom lines of many many companies since then. It is too sad that they became a casualty of the Bell / AT&T breakup, becoming a shadow of its former existence AND now responsible for a bottom line. Microsoft aparently has "seen the light" and I hope that other companies do as well.
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