Microsoft Robotics products and services enable academic, hobbyist and commercial developers to easily create robotics applications across a wide variety of hardware. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 is a popular product from that group which is a .NET-based programming environment for building robotics applications. It can be used by both professional and non-professional developers as well as hobbyists.
As part of the recent layoffs, Microsoft has decided to kill the Microsoft Research Robotics studios. Team member Ashley Feniello tweeted about this recently. MSR Robotics team were focused on the following,
The robots are coming! Actually, they are already here—in our homes, workplaces, transport systems, and even places of education and entertainment. Robots are increasingly among us, sharing our world, and it is important to understand how we can best interact in order to help humanity. This is the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), where our research is currently primarily focused. We have also actively researched the use of robots as a compelling context for teaching such subjects as beginner computer science and programming.
Read more about MSR Robotics group here.