For several decades, Microsoft Corporation has been a global leader in technological innovation, transforming the software and hardware industries with a wide range of products. In 1991, Microsoft founded Microsoft Research on its Redmond, WA campus to support the pursuit of both basic and applied research without the constraints of the product development cycle. Since then, the research subsidiary has grown to comprise multiple laboratories on three continents, with research expertise that spans areas including human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, search technologies, natural user interfaces, networking, health and well-being, social science, and economics and computation. In addition to expanding the boundaries of technological possibility, Microsoft Research seeks to translate fundamental concepts into solutions for the broader consumer market.
During Microsoft Research’s early years in Redmond, it relied heavily on its geographic proximity to the product teams at Microsoft. As its footprint became global, however, it began exploring technologies that would assist with building and sustaining close working relationships across its distributed team, and ultimately purchased a BeamPro for the Redmond campus in 2013.
Microsoft Research faced an uphill battle in optimizing day-to-day operations across its geographically dispersed engineering teams. Jay Beavers, a software engineer manager on the team that selected Beam, comments, “Communications is always the biggest challenge, making sure everyone is on the same page.” Beavers considers Beam to be particularly useful for brainstorming sessions and less formal meetings. He notes, “Writing software is easy; getting everybody to work on the same thing is hard. I wanted something that would get us past the conference room scenario. This is now eminently achievable because we have the technology on hand with the Beam to have a great quality experience.”