Perhaps not a trio you'd think of every day, but these three companies are all contributing to a research project which aims to make net tasks easier than before. The focus of the project, which will run for 5 years at UC Berkely, is to automate administrative processes for e-commerce and web service sites.

The RAD Systems Lab (Reasearch, Adaptive and Distributed) seeks to develop software which can learn the administrative processes of an organisation and then take over some of that work. While Google and Microsoft are usually at each other's throats, in this case they share a common goal, as both require hefty amounts of staff to look after their data.
"We realise if research isn't being done in university laboratories, then the pipeline of ideas and computer science graduates coming into our companies eventually is going to dry up," said James Larus, a senior researcher at Microsoft who will liaise with the lab for the software firm.
BBC News has more.