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Microsoft's telescope looks beyond space

The software uses a "visual experience engine" that may well find its way into other projects.

REDMOND, Wash.--One of the key things in Microsoft's new WorldWide Telescope software has nothing to do with space.

Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope software offers several different ways to look at the heavens, including the Hydrogen Alpha view. Ina Fried/CNET

The software uses a new Microsoft "visual experience engine" to gather and stitch together images from multiple data sets as well as allow a variety of users to author their own guided tour. While space was a good area to try out the technology, principal researcher Curtis Wong notes that it's not the final frontier for the visual experience engine.

"It's a core one to start with," he said, but noted that the idea of sharing a guided tour through a digital experience will have broader uses.

The technology has lived inside Microsoft's research group, but is moving on to one or more product groups within the company, though Wong said he couldn't give more details.

I'll have a variety of other postings from my tour through TechFest that will go up either later Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. Later this week, I'll also have a video interview with Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer.

And, like many of the reporters at TechFest, I'm on a flight Tuesday night to Las Vegas to start posting bright and early Wednesday morning from the Mix 08 show.