Microsoft is an innovative company, that’s something we all know.
It invests+$9 billion yearly on research and development and it would be impossible to list all the products, projects and activities related to it. Probably some of the most well known are:
- Microsoft Surface
- Microsoft Kinect
- Envisioning videos from Office Labs
- Microsoft Home of the Future
- Microsoft Research Labs
- Imagine Cup
- Microsoft Innovation Centers
But there is much more than this, in fact I don’t joke when I say innovation is all around Microsoft. Being an innovative company starts from the mindset of its employees and we have multitude of activities in Microsoft that motivate employees and fosters innovation like the famous Bill Gates Thinkweek or other activities that might not be that famous, but are extremely inspiring.
One example of it is the Science Fair, an internal event done at the Microsoft Campus where microsofties can show off their latest science projects every six months…more or less. Most of the projects demoed will never become public, some of them will be a new product or a new feature of current products, but nobody cares where it ends up because the real goal is just coding for the sake of having lot of fun. An example of a project presented in a Science Fair is the .NET Gadgeteer, a prototyping platform for small electronic gadgets and embedded hardware devices built on .NET Micro Framework.
Similar to the Microsoft Science Fair, the guys at Microsoft Research have their own annual party: TechFest. The TechFest showcases some of the coolest projects from any of the Microsoft Research’s locations around the world. Researchers have the opportunity to share the technologies and projects emerging from their work. TechFest is open also to guests, so you can take a look at some of the Microsoft Research projects presented during 2011.
We have also an internal portal called ToolBox where all employees can build and submit the tools they develop, there are so many of them of all kind and flavors’. One you might know that made his first appearance in ToolBox is Mouse without Borders, a cool tool that allows you to handle up to four computers with a single mouse and keyboard.
Some of these things are done thanks to THE GARAGE, a community of employees who like building things in their free time and have a clear mantra: “Do-ers. Not Talkers”. They are the group who organize the Ads Science Fair, the Office Science Fair, the Hyderabad Science Fair, the Enginering Science Fair, the Hardware Science Fair, the Everything Science Fair…
Again, this is not all. I wrote this post because now we are in the period of the Microsoft Next a year video contest, open to all the Microsoft employees, which pursues to identify the most innovative talents around the world with a very prestigious panel of judges. If you want to have an idea on what kind of videos are submitted, just take a look to some of videos that were submitted during the Microsoft Next 2011.
As you can see, innovation is not just funding research and development projects, innovation is a mindset that you have or not have. In Microsoft, innovation is all around.