In a move which underscores an apparent effort by Microsoft to speed up innovation for its Bing search engine and Cortana digital assistant, the company has revealed in a Thursday announcement that it has combined the Bing and Cortana product teams with Microsoft Research.
According to the announcement, Bing and Cortana product teams will join forces with Microsoft's Information Platform and Ambient Computing and Robotics teams to form the Microsoft AI and Research Group. The group will include over 5,000 computer scientists and engineers; and will be headed by Harry Shum, who earlier led Microsoft Research and the Bing engineering team.
The move to combine Bing and Cortana product teams with Microsoft Research is part of Microsoft's broader reorganization, under which the company's Applications and Services Group has been split into two separate entities. The Applications and Services Group included Microsoft's Office applications, which will now form their own distinct group.
The combining of the teams working on Bing and Cortana with Microsoft Research is a unique move by Microsoft because while Bing and Cortana are active products, Microsoft Research comprises future-facing teams.
However, by merging Bing and Cortana product teams with Microsoft Research teams, Microsoft has asked researchers to work on such projects which, eventually, have the potential for commercialization.