Microsoft is (finally) making a change to its research team to function more like Google and Facebook

Bill Gates started Microsoft’s research arm in 1991 so that it could do research for the sake of research. The division, aptly named Microsoft Research, didn’t interact with the company’s commercial product staff, an arrangement that led to missed opportunities. One-time upstarts like Google and Facebook were beating it to the punch. A big miss, for example, was the research arm pioneering digital mapping in 1998, but no one thought to commercialize it until 2005, when Google Maps was launched. Now, 25 years later, newish Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is breaking the research unit out of its silo, using its knowhow to boost the company’s product teams for the first time. To do this, Nadella has cut Microsoft Research’s 1,000-strong “basic research” staff in half, and has embedded the other…


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