Portrait of Brian Zill

Brian Zill

Senior Research Software Development Engineer


I am a Senior Research Software Design Engineer in the Systems and Networking Area at Microsoft Research Redmond. Since joining Microsoft in 1994 I have worked on a variety of projects, including Microsoft Interactive Television, IPv6, Mesh, DAIR, Hawaii, and many other research projects.  I originated Microsoft’s IPv6 effort, and co-wrote the IPv6 protocol stack that was included in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.  While working on Mesh routing I helped invent LQSR and prepared the Mesh Connectivity Layer (MCL) codebase for MSR’s Mesh Academic Resource Kit.  I am also the author of the popular “TCP Analyzer Expert” add-on for Microsoft’s Network Monitor tool.

I am the co-author of over 20 academic research papers and 2 standards-track Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) RFCs.  I am an inventor on over a dozen issued US Patents and several more pending patent applications.  Before joining Microsoft I was a Research Developer at Carnegie Mellon University, where I worked on the Nectar gigabit networking project.


DSoAP – Distributed Social Analytics Platform

Established: June 1, 2015

The Distributed Social Analytics Platform (DSoAP) project is focused on the “Huge Data” problem in social policy research caused by the breadth of data involved. Using aggregate social media data to investigate and validate social issues (such as employment, health and fiscal policy) requires analyzing many months or years of data. DSoAP is applying intelligent compaction, pre-indexing and distribution of data across a server cluster to achieve responsive query times for online data exploration. Twitter…


Established: October 2, 2014

An Ironclad App lets a user securely transmit her data to a remote machine with the guarantee that every instruction executed on that machine adheres to a formal abstract specification of the app's behavior. This does more than eliminate implementation vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows, parsing errors, or data leaks; it tells the user exactly how the app will behave at all times. Our specifications, code, proofs, and tools for our projects Ironclad Apps (verifying the…


Established: September 19, 2011

Drawbridge is a research prototype of a new form of virtualization for application sandboxing. Drawbridge combines two core technologies: First, a picoprocess, which is a process-based isolation container with a minimal kernel API surface. Second, a library OS, which is a version of Windows enlightened to run efficiently within a picoprocess. Hardware-based Virtual Machines (VMs) have fundamentally changed computing in data centers and enabled the cloud. VMs offer three compelling qualities: Secure Isolation: isolating applications…

Microsoft Research TCP Analyzer

Established: June 22, 2009

This tool analyzes network traces of Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connections. Given a Microsoft Network Monitor trace, the analyzer provides various performance statistics and visualizations for the captured TCP connection. Included are plots of the time-sequence graph, round-trip time measurements, and more. The tool also contains an analysis engine that attempts to explain what the limiting performance factor of a particular connection was. The analyzer installs itself as a Microsoft Network Monitor "Expert".  Once installed,…

Self Organizing Wireless Mesh Networks

Established: October 12, 2004

Community-based multi-hop wireless networks is disruptive to the current broadband Internet access paradigm, which relies on cable and DSL being deployed in individual homes. It is important because it allows free flow of information without any moderation or selective rate control. Compared to the large DSL and cable modem systems that are centrally managed, mesh networking is organic — everyone in the neighborhood contributes network resources and cooperates. Overview Researchers in Microsoft Research Redmond, Cambridge,…


Established: July 9, 2003

OS and tools for building dependable systems. The Singularity research codebase and design evolved to become the Midori advanced-development OS project. While never reaching commercial release, at one time Midori powered all of Microsoft's natural language search service for the West Coast and Asia. "...it is impossible to predict how a singularity will affect objects in its causal future." - NCSA Cyberia Glossary What's New? The Singularity Research Development Kit (RDK) 2.0 is available for…














Earlier Publications

  • Karl Kleinpaste, Peter Steenkiste, and Brian Zill, Software Support for Outboard Buffering and Checksumming, SIGCOMM 1995
  • Peter Steenkiste, Michael Hemy, Todd W. Mummert, and Brian Zill, Architecture and Evaluation of High-Speed Networking Subsystem for Distributed-Memory Systems, ISCA 1994
  • Peter Steenkiste, Brian Zill, H. T. Kung, Steven Schlick, Jim Hughes, Bob Kowalski, and John Mullaney, A Host Interface Architecture for High-Speed Networks, HPN, 1992
  • H. T. Kung, Robert D. Sansom, Steven Schlick, Peter Steenkiste, Matthieu Arnould, Francois J. Bitz, Fred Christianson, Eric C. Cooper, Onat Menzilcioglu, Denise Ombres, and Brian Zill, Network-based multicomputers: an emerging parallel architecture, Supercomputing 1991
  • Eric Cooper, Peter Steenkiste, Robert Sansom, and Brian Zill, Protocol implementation on the Nectar communication processor, SIGCOMM 1990