On stage at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference 2008 today, Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, showed developers how Microsoft is marshalling the power of software to help solve some of the toughest technological and societal challenges. Rashid highlighted initiatives spearheaded by the more than 800 researchers in Microsoft Research's six global labs and taking place across Microsoft that are helping to improve society and redefine the computing experience:

Tiny devices, big impact

The scarcity of energy resources and concerns about climate change are creating new challenges and opportunities for computing. With the advent of large datacenters to underpin cloud-based computing services, energy-efficient computing is becoming increasingly important. Using technology developed by Microsoft Research, Microsoft is deploying tiny sensors throughout its datacenters to capture data that will allow it to better regulate energy consumption across the facilities and reduce their carbon footprint.

WorldWide Telescope

Developed by Microsoft Research, WorldWide Telescope is a "web browser for the sky", bringing together images from the best ground and space-based telescopes to enable people to navigate and explore the cosmos from their PC screen. The new features can be viewed at http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/ .

Boku: turning programming into kids' stuff

Boku is a fun, intellectually-stimulating game, developed by Microsoft Research that introduces kids to programming while they play. You can learn more about Boku here.

DryadLINQ

Developed by a team from Microsoft Research, DryadLINQ is a powerful programming environment that enables ordinary programmers to write large-scale data parallel applications to run on large PC clusters. More about the DryadLINQ project is available here.

SecondLight: a magic lens that goes beyond the surface

The brainchild of Microsoft Researchers, SecondLight is a rear projection-vision surface technology that extends and enriches Surface through the ability to project images both through and beyond the surface display, to a translucent piece of plastic for instance. With SecondLight, the translucent piece of plastic can also function as a "magic lens" that when passed over an image displayed on the primary surface - a car, for instance - provides a view of the "inner workings" behind the image. A video demo of SecondLight is available here.

The Microsoft CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008

The Microsoft® CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008 delivers a set of .NET and Compact Framework class libraries and tools that enable developers to better deal with the inherent complexities of creating loosely-coupled concurrent and distributed applications. More information about the Microsoft CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008 is available here.

Microsoft Surface SDK

Microsoft Surface is a surface computing platform that opens up a new chapter in the way people interact with computers by enabling them to access digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. More information about Surface is available here.

RoboChamps

RoboChamps is a new simulated robotics programming competition that will bring robotics to a broader audience by overcoming the prohibitive cost, lack of access, and specialist knowledge associated with physical robots. Visit the RoboChamps website to learn more.