Microsoft plans global development centers

Microsoft plans to create a network of 90 software development centers around the world to support programmers, it said on Tuesday. The initiative is designed partly to foster the creation of local software industries.

The centers will be run in cooperation with local governments, academic institutions, industry organizations and software vendors and have as their goal the creation of "software economies" in the areas in which they are located, the company said in a statement.

The centers will offer three main types of assistance, said John Fernandes, Microsoft's director of international business development.

The first has a focus on education, specifically areas such as market and business development. Technology school graduates may lack knowledge in these areas which could hold them back from making their businesses a success.

The second area involves promoting partnerships between stakeholders, including venture capitalists, academics and governments, Fernandes said.

Finally, the centers will try to make sure local developers have access to tools they need, including new technologies such as 64-bit computing systems and the forthcoming Windows Vista operating system, he said.

"This is part of an ongoing conversation with academics, government and the business community in a number of countries where we do business about how Microsoft can help grow local software economies," Fernandes said.

The 90 centers will include 60 existing facilities in locations including Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan and Malaysia and 30 new facilities in countries including South Korea, India and South Africa, Microsoft said. The existing facilities will be upgraded to support the new initiative and the new ones will open in 2006, Fernandes said.

The plan was announced Tuesday at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) Asia in New Delhi, India.

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