Microsoft took the unusual step of combining its Bing and Cortana product teams with Microsoft Research, in a bid to accelerate innovation for both the search engine and the digital assistant.

The move on Thursday was part of a broader reorganization that saw Microsoft split its Applications and Services Group, which also included Microsoft’s Office applications, into two separate organizations. Office applications will form their own group.

Though Microsoft has asked researchers to work on projects that could eventually be commercialized, combining teams that work on active products, such as Cortana and Bing, with the future-facing teams that comprise Microsoft Research, is unique within Microsoft. Together, Bing and Cortana, plus Microsoft’s Information Platform and Ambient Computing and Robotics teams, will form the Microsoft AI and Research Group. All told, the group will include more than 5,000 computer scientists and engineers, Microsoft said.

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