PaidContent.org reports that Microsoft’s Live Labs group has been cut in half, and the remaining crew will focus only on search. The departing team members will move on to other Microsoft product groups, such as Live Search, Windows Mobile, and Microsoft Advertising.
In a post on the Live Labs Blog, Microsoft downplays the changes:
“…moving great people and projects into the the product groups has always been part of our process, so today’s news is entirely consistent with what we’ve always done.
Contrary to recent whispers and tweets, we are not shutting down, disbanding, dismantling, or anything of the sort.”
Live Labs is Microsoft’s “vision” group, charged with researching new ideas and bringing them to life. Photosynth is considered the group’s most successful project to date. It’s been used by NASA for Space Shuttle images, and was integrated into Live Maps late last year.
A Microsoft spokesperson tells paidContent.org that the current economy forced the company to restructure Live Labs:
“Economic conditions are imposing constraints that challenge the original Live Labs model by diminishing the group’s ability to transfer innovations to business groups who’re understandably giving priority to ‘needs’ vs. ‘opportunities.’”
Microsoft’s not alone in focusing its research like this; we reported late last year that Google was changing its famed “20% time” to focus on meeting needs.