I talked to a friend who is in msr - but in computer vision. His opinion was:
- The theory part of msr was started as part of Bill Gates's philantropic project, not as a strategic business decision of Microsoft.
- If a researcher at msr theory comes up with an amazing revolutionary idea that is worth implementing and publishes it, Microsoft could implement it just the same after he publishes it if he was not from msr, and
then wouldn't have to pay his salary all those years.