Middle-aged dog tries to learn new tricks

Well, well. According to MIT’s Technology Review, Microsoft

is reorganizing part of its research-and-development operation to create new products faster, and to compete with the seemingly vast array of innovative consumer software and services that companies like Google and Yahoo bring to market on a weekly basis.

Its new organization, called Live Labs, consists of some 85 researchers drawn from two existing divisions, Microsoft Research and the Microsoft Network (MSN). Both organizations are heavily involved in creating new Microsoft offerings, such as MSN Search, introduced last year. But Live Labs is designed to act as a “perpetual startup” within Microsoft, in the words of the organization’s new director Gary Flake — an incubator where software engineers can rapidly test ideas for Web-based services and other software, then shepherd the best concepts to market.

The formation of Live Labs, says Tech review

appears to constitute an admission by Microsoft that its traditional, gradualist approach to research, code development, testing, and marketing is not well suited for an era when younger competitors post beta versions of latest software on the Web almost as soon as their programmers have dreamed them up, then let them evolve in response to user feedback.

Quite so. And how nice that the guy in charge is called Flake. Of Cadbury proportions, we hope.