Continuing its week-long promotion of openness at the company, Microsoft on Thursday touted efforts in the science and academic space, detailing research tools that leverage Microsoft technologies.
During his brief turn as a keynote speaker at OSCON (O'Reilly Open Source Convention) in San Jose, Calif., Tony Hey, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Research external research division, elaborated on company efforts. Other speakers at the morning session included officials from Google and Canonical, who discussed open source code volumes and cloud computing, respectively.
Hey's presentation followed Microsoft's earlier announcements this week of open source code contributions in the Linux and educational worlds. He stressed IT can help scientists solve problems.
[ To learn about Microsoft's open source contributions this week, see "Microsoft releases code for Linux drivers" and "Microsoft makes second GPLv2 release is as many days". | Today, an engineer claimed that Microsoft had been in violation of GPLv2 before releasing the Linux driver code. ]
"Science has to move from going to data to information to knowledge," Hey said. Looking to help solve problems in energy, the environment, and health, Microsoft seeks to help make its tools such as Word and Excel become more useful for scientists, said Hey.
"We're trying to do open source extensions to various platforms that we have in Microsoft that are used by the scientific community to make them more useful," he said.
One of the projects cited was Project Trident, providing a scientific workflow workbench to help accommodate data steaming in from sensor networks. The project leverages such software as Word, .Net Framework, and the SQL Server database, according to Microsoft's Web resources on the project.
Another effort, Project Zentity, offers storage of semantic data. Described as a "research output repository platform" on the project's Web page, Zentity features an ASP.Net Web interface and is built on top of SQL Server 2008 and Microsoft's Entity Framework. The Node XL project, meanwhile, serves as a visualization tool for Excel for doing network analysis and visualization. The PhyloD project features a research tool built as a service for the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. It is being used to analyze the DNA of HIV in studies of infected patients.
Having PhyloD as an Azure service "allows scientists to upload their data, do analysis and get the results back without intervention," Hey said.
Tools and plug-ins are available under Microsoft Public License include Node XL and PhyloD. Zentity and Project Trident will be offered via open source licenses.
Google's Chris DiBona, open source program manager at the company, cited Google efforts to assess volumes of open source code on the Internet, via its Google Code Search crawl capability
"I think people tend to forget just how much open source there is," DiBona said.
Among Google's findings was positive reception for the GNU General Public License version 3 and PHP eclipsing Perl by more than 37 million lines of code in open source projects. Ada code, meanwhile, exceeded ActionScript code by about 4 million lines. "There's very little open source ActionScript," DiBona said. There also is more C code in open source efforts than C++, as well as 30 million more lines of Pascal code than Fortran and 80 million more lines than Ruby, DiBona said.