Two of Microsoft's hybrid research-product labs made available test versions of new wares this week.
Microsoft's Live Labs -- the unit that married Microsoft Researchers with MSN developers -- quietly delivered a new spinoff to its Seadragon technology. (Seadragon is best known as the technology powering Deep Zoom, a seamless-browsing feature of Microsoft's Silverlight.) The new spinoff, known as Seadragon Ajax, allows users to embed a Deep Zoom viewer in their blogs, Web sites, or "even your eBay listing."
From the Seadragon Ajax site:
"There are plenty of times when you want to see something closer, to get a good look at the texture of a sculpture, or find out if that's a reflection or a scratch on that used car you're looking at.
"Seadragon, implemented as the Deep Zoom feature of Silverlight, allows you to do that. But what if you're not using the Silverlight platform? That's what Seadragon Ajax is for....
"By using the Seadragon Ajax wizard, you can get Deep Zoom functionality without having to write complex code."
The embeddable viewer is
set to be available for download from the site. (but was rendering "page not found" when I tried it).
(Given the timing of the release of Seadragon Ajax, I wonder if Microsoft is using it as one of its counterstrikes against Adobe's newly released "Thermo," a tool aimed at designers that reduces their need to write code.)
Meanwhile, Microsoft's Office Labs -- a mash-up of Microsoft Researchers and Office developers -- posted information on November 18 on a newly released test applet known as "Sticky Sorter," which is targeted specifically to address the needs of affinity diagrammers. From the Office Labs site:
"As you probably know, there are many products out there that allow you to create virtual sticky notes; however StickySorter is quite different and unique. We designed our application specifically for tasks that involve organizing large amounts of information."
A test version of Sticky Sorter is available for download from the Office Labs site.
Microsoft is using its growing family of labs to turn research projects more rapidly into commercialized products/technologies. Most of the deliverables from the various Microsoft labs, to date, have tend to be very specifically focused wares more likely to become components of existing products and services than standalone products themselves.