Microsoft Releases Free Software for Academics

July 28th, 2008 at 12:00 am

microsoft scholarly communications lifecycle

With Microsoft’s Live Services, it looks like they’re getting the knack of giving away stuff for free.  We’re not complaining.

At the 9th annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, Microsoft announced that they are giving away free software to foster and develop the research and innovation ecosystem.  Tony hey, VP of Microsoft External Research, gave a talk on how Microsoft through his group is highly supportive of research and development especially in collaborative efforts including developing and supporting efforts in open access, open tools, open technology and interoperability.

Hey says, "Collecting and analyzing data, authoring, publishing, and preserving information are all essential components of the everyday work of researchers — with collaboration and search and discovery at the heart of the entire process. We’re supporting that scholarly communication life cycle with free software tools to improve interoperability with existing tools used commonly by academics and scholars to better meet their research needs."

So, to help in the process of research, Microsoft is giving away tools that will help researchers, scientists, scholars and academics better collaborate and in general be more efficient and open.  These tools include the following:

  • Add-ins. The Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007 enables metadata to be captured at the authoring stage to preserve document structure and semantic information throughout the publishing process, which is essential for enabling search, discovery and analysis in subsequent stages of the life cycle. The Creative Commons Add-in for Office 2007 allows authors to embed Creative Commons licenses directly into an Office document (Word, Excel or PowerPoint) by linking to the Creative Commons site via a Web service.
  • The Microsoft e-Journal Service. This offering provides a hosted, full-service solution that facilitates easy self-publishing of online-only journals to facilitate the availability of conference proceedings and small and medium-sized journals.
  • Research Output Repository Platform. This platform helps capture and leverage semantic relationships among academic objects — such as papers, lectures, presentations and video — to greatly facilitate access to these items in exciting new ways.
  • The Research Information Centre. In close partnership with the British Library, this collaborative workspace will be hosted via Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and will allow researchers to collaborate throughout the entire research project workflow, from seeking research funding to searching and collecting information, as well as managing data, papers and other research objects throughout the research process.

Well, it’s really great that Microsoft is giving stuff for free.  However, this is also an effort of Microsoft to mine data from its source.  Research papers and articles can, from the time of writing, be included Microsoft’s database and ultimately search index.  They haven’t said anything about this but if it’s open interoperability they want, it will lead to this exactly.