Notice, Microsoft allows MSR to pursue whatever it's PhDs want to pursue, regardless of "productizability". It's not always about bean counting.Microsoft spends about $9 billion a year on research and development and has 850 Ph.D. researchers in labs worldwide. That's only 1 percent of the company's employees but it's the largest computer-science research organization in the world, according to Microsoft.
"We think of TechFest as a conversation starter," Schofield said. "We don't think of it as a shopping mall. It's a set of ideas — a conversation about what is now possible."
The projects this year fell largely into two themes: merging the virtual and natural worlds, and big data — meaning systems that can collect a huge amount of data and make sense of that data in useful ways.