RealTime IT News

Microsoft Sets Up 'Safe House' in Reston, Va.

Microsoft came to the home of the Internet in a big way Thursday, holding an opening ceremony for its new $25 million telecommunications facility and donating $61,000 in grants to Reston Interfaith.

Reston, Va. is considered by many the birthplace of the Internet, the site where the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA) Net found its genesis back in 1969.

So, it's somewhat appropriate Microsoft would locate its new "safe house" -- for government intelligence agencies to conduct classified meetings and a "Trusted Computing Center" to review computer security policies, practices and techniques -- at the locale the government first tested its Internet projects.

Jerry Gordon, president of the Fairfax County economic development authority, said Microsoft joins a large group of IT giants in the community, including SAIC and TRW .

"We have become a hub for high-tech companies, particularly IT companies, and Microsoft gives us more notoriety," he said. "Our community has taken a hit with the dot com failures in the past, but we've rebounded."

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive officer, said the decision to house the new center in Northern Virginia was a nod to the area's high-tech economy and central to the services Microsoft would be offering.

"Our new technology center will also enable Microsoft to expand and strengthen our relationships with our many technology partners and the federal government," he said.

In addition to secure communications, the 63,000-square-foot facility houses 25 conference rooms, a government solutions center, a technology lab and capacity of more than 1,000 people at one time.

Never one to shy away from a publicity event, Microsoft used the opening of its security site to showcase its Windows XP operating system, the XBox gaming console system, Tablet PC, new MSN technology and its SmartPhone.

Officials said the new facility would bring more jobs to the Reston community, though Microsoft officials weren't available for comment on how many new jobs would be created with the opening of the new center.

Gordon did say, however, that only a few of the 100 jobs would be taken up by existing Microsoft employees; the rest would come from the local region.