Microsoft Research are doing some interesting things with parallel programming and service called Dyrad: A general purpose distributed execution platform.
What were excited about in the academic arena is the use of Windows Azure and Dryad as the combination of both these resources offer the novice parallel programmer access to a massive amount of compute power.
The combination of the the two services will leverage a huge amounts of processing power, the services can easily scale to thousands of computers running thousand instances for an hour on Windows Azure. This would be very interesting and were really excited to see that can be achieved.
Microsoft Research There is a talk here from 2007 which explains the ideas behind Dryad. So if you’ve involved in parallel programming, think about the opportunity of the cloud and Windows Azure and visit the MS Research site for more information on Dyrad.
They even have an specific academic download of something called DryadLINQ.