Microsoft Tuesday will launch an alliance that it hopes will kill two birds with one stone—use technology to promote bio-medical research and encourage customers to upgrade to the next version of Microsoft Office.
Don Rule, platform strategy adviser of Microsoft’s developer and platform evangelism group, is expected to unveil the BioIT Alliance at the Bio-IT World Magazine World Life Sciences Conference + Expo in Boston on Tuesday.
The aim of the group is to bring together pharmaceutical companies and independent software vendors (ISVs) to work on projects that advance medical and biological research and development, he said. And because Office 2007 will be a foundational software for the alliance’s projects, Microsoft also hopes companies in the life sciences market will upgrade to the software once it is available to business customers at the end of the year, Rule added.
By merging technology with bio-medical research, the BioIT Alliance aims to promote more personalized medicine in the United States, he said. The group also hopes to promote the use of technology to analyze data from the Human Genome Project to help “make medicine more predictive and preventative,” Rule said.
The first project the BioIT Alliance will take on, in conjunction with The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, is called the Collaborative Molecular Environment, Rule said. The group wants to create a proof of concept for using Microsoft software to more efficiently collect, store and annotate research notes electronically, he said. The ultimate goal is to give researchers easier and faster access to information, Rule said. Currently, researchers capture and store about 75 percent of laboratory notes electronically, while the rest remain handwritten or recorded in some other way, he added.
The proof of concept, a beta version of which should be available in late May, uses not only Office but also Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation and SharePoint software. The final version is expected to be available in time for the release of Microsoft Office 2007 to business customers in the last quarter of the year, Rule said.
The final proof of concept will be available royalty-free under a Microsoft SharedSource license, he added. Microsoft hopes ISVs will integrate the technology into their products for use with Office 2007 in the life sciences space, Rule said.
In addition to Microsoft, companies working on the alliance’s initial project are Accelrys Software, Affymetrix, Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Applied Biosystems.
Microsoft plans to explore other projects for the alliance, and as it begins work on them, the company will bring on project-specific partners, Rule said.
-Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service
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