Microsoft Plans 30 New R&D Centers

U.S. IT executives might want to chip in for a lounge at New Delhi’s Indira Ghandi International Airport, given their increasing travels to India.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates kicked off a four-day India trip by outlining a plan to build 30 new innovation centers around the world, including one in the tech-heavy Indian city of Bangalore.

All the new facilities will be open in 2006, Sanjay Parthasarathy, a Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of the initiative, said in a statement.

The news comes one day after Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, during his own trip to the South Asian country, announced $1 billion in R&D and venture capital investments over the next five years.

Microsoft will also build new centers in Latin America and Asia. Nine are slated for construction in China. The facilities, designed to increase the company’s R&D operations and spark local economic development, will bring Microsoft’s tally of global development centers to 90.

Microsoft already has seven offices in India; it had previously unveiled plans to invest $400 million in India and sees great potential there as a base of operations as well as a potential market for its software.

By 2008, India’s software industry will employ 4 million people and will account for 8 percent of its gross domestic product and 30 percent of foreign exchange earnings, according to the National Association of Software and Service Companies of India.

While in India this week, Gates will meet with government officials, business leaders and programmers. He will also be in Bangalore on Friday to lead a Webcast for the India launch of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006.

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