One of the really promising current projects from MSR is the F# programming language, spearheaded by Don Syme. F# stems from the functional programming tradition (hence the 'F') and has strong roots in the ML family of languages, though also draws from C#, LINQ and Haskell. F# is designed from the outset to be a first class citizen on .NET. This means that F# runs on the CLR, embraces object-oriented programming, and has features to ensure a smooth integration with the .NET Framework.
I am a big fan of technology transfer between a research organization and a product development organization so that we can "productize" the great research ideas and deliver to customers in a timely manner. This is one of the best things that has happened at Microsoft ever since we created Microsoft Research over 15 years ago. Here is another great example of technology transfer at work. We will be partnering with Don Syme and others in Microsoft Research to fully integrate the F# language into Visual Studio and continue innovating and evolving F#. In my mind, F# is another first-class programming language on the CLR.
This is really great news! Functional programming is very elegant and has a lot of benefits compared to other approaches. There are also some negative aspects: mostly people complain about the speed that functional languages offer. But the best thing about F# is that the team says that programs written in their language are as fast as programs written in C#.
You get functional and dynamic benefits with the same speed as if they would have been written in C#. Isn't it cool?