RealTime IT News

Microsoft: North to Canada

Microsoft needs more brainiacs to fill its developer ranks, so it's going North to nurture them.

The software giant said it plans to expand its presence in Canada by opening a new software development center in the greater Vancouver, British Columbia, area. Doors are slated to open this fall, and it will house software developers from around the world.

The announcement comes at a time when Microsoft is facing a shortage of developers, and after the U.S. Senate recently ended debate on an immigration reform bill that would have included provisions for allowing more special visas for tech workers. Microsoft bemoaned the move.

The H1-B visas allow U.S. companies to sponsor foreign-born U.S. graduates in science, engineering and math for up to six years of U.S. employment. Tech executives and lobbyists insist an increase in H1-B visas is necessary to fill what it claims is a chronic shortfall in American IT talent.

"The nation continues to witness a dramatic decline in the number of native-born computer science graduates," Pamela Passman, Microsoft's vice president for global corporate affairs, said in a statement sent to internetnews.com just after the Senate ended debate on the bill. "Technology companies like Microsoft rely on the H-1B visa and employment-based green card programs to deliver an adequate supply of highly qualified employees to help maintain our competitive position."

On to Canada. The company said the Microsoft Canada Development Centre will operate as one of a handful of development centers outside its Redmond, Washington headquarters. Other sites are in North Carolina, Ireland, Denmark and Israel.

In a statement announcing the expansion, S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft, said the company's goal is to attract the next generation of leading software developers from all parts of the world. "This center will be a beacon for some of that talent."

Phil Sorgen, president of Microsoft Canada, said the region has "burgeoning high-tech and software industries and a globally envied quality of life, and our cities represent exactly the kind of environment that leading information workers want to live in. "This center will help Microsoft remain globally competitive while providing strong economic benefits to British Columbia and Canada."