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Springtime in Paris and Software Is in the Air

April 14, 2011 | By Microsoft blog editor

Software Summit 2011 in ParisWhat could be better than Paris on a spring day?  How about Paris on a spring day at the inaugural Software Summit sponsored by Microsoft Research?

Yes, I’m here at the Microsoft Le Campus in Issy-les-Moulineaux, just southwest of central Paris, along with more than 200 of the foremost figures in the European computer-science community.  The Summit underscores the importance of European research and innovation and brings together thought leaders from Europe’s high-powered industrial research, academic, and the scientific communities. With so much intellectual wattage on hand, we might need to dim the house lights. Seriously, I’m looking forward to a stimulating three days of panels, workshops, and demos on the state of software research and development.

Andrew Herbert, chairman of Microsoft Research EMEA, is serving as the Summit host, and Judith Bishop, director of Computer Science for Microsoft Research Connections, is the program chair for the event.

I’m honored to present one of the event’s four keynote addresses, joining Ken Wood, deputy managing director of Microsoft Research Cambridge and head of the Computer-Mediated Living group; Wolfram Schulte, principal researcher and founding manager of the Research in Software Engineering team at Microsoft Research Redmond; and Brendan Eich, chief technical officer of the Mozilla Corp. and creator of the JavaScript scripting language. 

One of the first-day highlights of the Summit was an update on the Kinect for Windows SDK (software development kit) to be released this spring. Echoing yesterday’s announcement at the MIX developer conference in Las Vegas, we unveiled three key features of the upcoming Kinect for Windows SDK: robust skeletal tracking, advanced audio capabilities, and XYZ depth camera.  We also announced the launch of a new website for the SDK, where you can subscribe to a newsfeed and be notified as soon as the SDK is available for download. Our hope is that this “starter kit” for application developers will make it easier for the academic research and enthusiast communities to create even richer experiences using Kinect technology. 

I’m also thrilled to report here on many of the ground-breaking tools and technologies being featured at the Summit, among them F#, a simple and efficient programming language ideal for data-rich, concurrent, and algorithmic development; Pex4fun, a game that awards points for writing code; Project Hawaii, a venture that is exploring how to leverage the cloud to enhance the use of smartphones; and Academic Search, a free search engine that provides quick information about academic researchers’ papers, conferences, and journals.

Above all, I want to stress that the Summit underlines Microsoft Research’s long-term commitment to collaboration with the academic and scientific community in Europe, which is an essential part of our ongoing efforts to advance computer science and technology. In that regard, I would especially like to point out the role of Microsoft Research Cambridge, which is home to more 150 dedicated, innovation-minded researchers and supports over 100 Ph.D. students, has hosted 465 student interns over the past seven years, and is currently sponsoring 25 active collaborative research projects. I also want to call out Microsoft Research’s three joint research institutes—at the University of Trento, INRIA, and the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre—as well as the European Microsoft Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, and the new Microsoft Cloud Computing and Interoperability Center, which opened in Brussels just last month.

I’ll be back shortly with more news from the Summit.  Now, however, I’ve got to polish that keynote address.

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 —Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections