Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie has launched another new lab, this one focused on social computing.
The 82-person Future Social Experiences Labs (FUSE) will be headed by General Manager Lili Cheng. FUSE is an amalgamation of Cheng's Microsoft Research (MSR) Creative Systems group and two other labs that are already under Ozzie: Rich Media Labs, in Redmond, Wash., and Starup Labs, based in Cambridge, Mass. Cheng will be staying in Redmond, Microsoft officials said.
Microsoft officials aren't sharing specifics on any of the projects on which FUSE is or will be working. The official statement:
"FUSE Labs’ team will explore new social, real-time and media-rich applications and services that add value to existing products, or could be released on their own. By combining these teams under a single leader and mission, Ray believes FUSE Labs can achieve greater impact through tighter focus and a more holistic approach."
Ozzie announced the new lab to his team on October 8.
Cheng has worked on a variety of Microsoft research projects and commercial products. She managed the User Experience teams for Windows Vista. Before that, she ran the Social Computing Group within MSR, which developed projects such as Wallop and VChat,
Update: Here's a bit more on the purpose of the lab from an e-mail that Ozzie sent to his team today:
"Myriad scenarios involving the notion of 'social' have now gone far beyond communications and collaboration and are transforming experiences that are key to our customers and key to our business, in leisure & entertainment; productivity & teamwork; experiences extending how we use the OS itself.
"The three groups being combined have concrete skills and code in areas where 'social' meets sharing; where 'social' meets real-time; where 'social' meets media; where 'social' meets search; where 'social' meets the cloud plus three screens and a world of devices."
Kostas Mallios, the General Manager of the Rich Media Lab, will be handling development responsibilities for incubation projects in Ozzie's organization and will continue to report to Ozzie. Reed Sturtevant, who has been Managing Director of the Startup Labs, has decided to leave the company.