Just got back from a dinner with Tony Hey, who was visiting UC. Davis to give a talk and meet with various people. Hey is currently VP for technical computing at some place called Microsoft. Hey has done some pretty interesting things in his career but what I know him from is his time as the head of the "E-science" initiative in the UK. Before I blather on about this ... check out Timo Hannay's blog about Hey's visit to Nature which has a pseudo outline of his talk he gave there.
It is interesting to see Microsoft getting into collaborative science --- I hope they stay serious about it because we need more "top down" types of efforts are big places like Microsoft. Whether Microsoft could make much money out of contributing to science I do not know, but if they put 1/1000 of the effort into this as they do into games and Office, science would almost certainly benefit. Many years ago when I was at TIGR, some Microsoft folks came to visit (when genome-stocks were going crazy) and expressed an interest in getting more involved in bioinformatics and genomics. Looks like that did not go anywhere. Maybe now is the time to try to get them doing this again?
I know Microsoft is viewed as Evil incarnate by many academics but hey (no pun intended), given the cool stuff being done by the Gates Foundation in various areas of science, maybe Microsoft will move a little more into science if only to support Gates Foundation efforts. Certainly, Tony Hey's background suggests that they have the potential to do some interesting stuff.