Techfest: Microsoft Research Shows Off

Today, Bre (Make:) and I got to see some of Microsoft Research’s (MSR in the local tongue) newest projects. We were shown ~35 projects experimenting in B2B, emerging markets, social computing (see my previous post on Boku), and location. The projects come from all over the world (Redmond, Silicon Valley, Cambridge (UK), Beijing (China), and Bangalore (India)).

Normally Techfest is an MS only event with just a few projects being exposed to a small number of the press. Today was the first time that they really opened the curtain and revealed their wares. Now that I am on the outside I am really appreciating how open MS can be and Techfast’s Press Day was another step in a positive direction (the Etech session The Making of Virtual Earth is another example). This was the only public (or semi-public) day; Microsoft employees will have two more days to see everything we saw and a whole lot more.

It’s good to see Microsoft stepping out. I think that they are trying to gain some good press to show that they are “innovative” (and I think it will work). Scoble commented that he didn’t see any killers today. Neither did I, but that is not surprising. I do think that any killers that Microsoft is working on will be done with the aid of MSR, but I don’t think that they would be shown in prototype form on a press day. Scoble and I both used to work at Microsoft; we both know that we only saw a fraction of the projects that will be shown the rest of the week.

I’m working on several posts right now so you can expect more about Techfest soon on Radar (in the meantime see my photos on Flickr). Bre has a post up on Make and photos on Flickr.

We weren’t the only bloggers there. Watch MonkeyBites (Michael Calore’s coverage is amazingly fast, thorough, and sharp), Scoble, Laughing Squid, Chris Pirillo, and Engadget for more coverage.