Microsoft buys former employee Charles Simonyi’s Intentional Software

Simonyi and the Intentional Software Team will help Microsoft expand Office 365's team productivity capabilities

Serial space tourist Charles Simonyi is going back again -- to his former employer, Microsoft.

When Simonyi quit as Microsoft's Chief Software Architect in 2002, it was to create a start-up devoted to making programming simpler. Now Microsoft has agreed to acquire that company, Intentional Software.

During his absence from Microsoft, Simonyi also found time to fly to the International Space Station -- twice. He made his first trip in 2007 and liked it so much that he went back again two years later.

Simonyi began Intentional Software with the goal of applying intentional programming, a language-independent software development technique he had formulated at Microsoft Research. More recently, the company has looked for ways to apply its expertise to team productivity software.

That's an area Microsoft is pushing into as office productivity becomes more about collaboration than document creation. To counter the rise of cloud services such as Slack or HipChat, Microsoft recently added Teams to Office 365.

Acquiring Intentional Software's code and coders will help Microsoft add new capabilities to its productivity tools, executive vice president Rajesh Jha wrote in a post on the company's blog on Tuesday.

For Simonyi, it's a return to origins of sorts. During his first stint at Microsoft, he oversaw the creation of the heart of Microsoft's Office suite, Word, and Excel, and will now contribute to the expansion of its subscription-based cloud successor, Office 365.

It's not about adding chat-bots to Office, though: Simonyi sees Intentional Software's contribution to office as something far bigger yet more diffuse, as he explained in a post on his company's website, also on Tuesday.

Evoking a scene from the SF blockbuster Avatar, in which a scientist effortlessly transfers data from a handheld device to a wall for all to see, Simonyi hinted that he and his team could be building new ways to share, transfer, annotate and display data.

"It will amount to reinventing productivity itself. I am very proud that Intentional technology will serve as a small, but important, part of this effort," he wrote.

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Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
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