Microsoft Talks Kin Phone, Tightens Twitter Ties, Dominates Human-Computer Interactions—A Redmond Roundup

4/15/10Follow @gthuang

It has been a busy week indeed in Microsoft land. While the man on the street has been scrambling to file his taxes, the Redmond, WA, company has been making headway in smartphones, real-time search, and other important areas. Let’s get right to the highlights:

Microsoft talks up Kin “social phone”
This is a phone specifically designed for heavy social network users. (In other words, something I won’t be buying anytime soon.) The interface emphasizes your contacts and supposedly makes it easy to do things like share photos and Web information, and stream music and video. It’s coming out in May. You can read some local writeups of the Kin by the Seattle Times, TechFlash, and mocoNews.

Bing incorporates Twitter updates
Microsoft’s search engine is amping up its partnership with Twitter, providing up-to-the-minute results from the Twitter stream in its main search results. The Bing team is currently testing the new features with a subset of its users and search queries, so it’s not quite prime-time yet. But it’s the latest move in the increasingly important battle over “social search” between Microsoft and Google, which really only started last year.

Microsoft outsources IT to InfoSys
Infosys Technologies said it will be managing internal IT services for Microsoft worldwide. The three-year deal amounts to the Indian company providing employee help desk services and managing applications, devices, and databases for Microsoft in 450 locations across 104 countries. This seems like a pretty big deal, and probably is a way for Microsoft to save a lot of money. The impact on Microsoft’s inner workings and product development remains to be seen.

Microsoft Research dominates at CHI conference
At the big international human-computer interaction expo this week (CHI 2010 in Atlanta), Microsoft presented 38 technical papers, or about 10 percent of all papers accepted by the conference. They ranged from a telepresence project to help employees communicate with remote colleagues to efforts in interactive touch displays, pen and touch interfaces, and studying how changing Web content affects people’s interactions with the Web.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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