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Microsoft opening Bangalore research center

/ Source: The Associated Press

Microsoft Corp. is further expanding its presence in India with plans to open a research center in Bangalore.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

The latest Microsoft Research campus will open in January 2005, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said Tuesday. The researchers in India will focus on ways to create, store and search information in multiple languages, as well as technology for use in emerging markets and other specialties.

Microsoft already operates research campuses in Beijing; Cambridge, England; Redmond; San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

The company decided to add an Indian campus to take advantage of promising computer science students coming out of universities there, said Rick Rashid, a vice president in charge of Microsoft Research. The company hopes to hire a couple dozen researchers over the next year, he said.

The Microsoft Research campuses, modeled after academic research facilities, do work that is relevant to Microsoft’s product lineup, such as security or search technology. Products including the TabletPC have come out of the research arm.

But researchers also are encouraged to work on far-flung ideas that may never turn into profitable products, like tools for developing HIV vaccines.

India native to head center
The new center will be headed by P. Anandan, previously a senior researcher at Microsoft’s Redmond campus. Anandan, a native of India, said in a statement that the country’s many languages, plus the fact that most of its more than 1 billion residents have no Internet access, make it a good backdrop for researching some of computer science’s most challenging problems.

The announcement comes just two weeks after Microsoft opened an office in Hyderabad, India, 340 miles north of Bangalore, and stepped up plans to hire more programmers in India. The new Hyderabad campus, its largest outside the United States, will eventually employ 3,000 programmers.

Microsoft already has offices in Bangalore for functions such as product support and sales, Rashid said.

Microsoft is one of dozens of American technology companies to set up facilities in India, taking advantage of its vast pool of skilled workers who can be hired for a fraction of the cost of those in the United States.

Matt Rosoff, an analyst with independent researchers Directions on Microsoft, said the research facility shouldn’t raise fears that Microsoft will begin outsourcing key product work to India, resulting in lost jobs here.

“I think the research facilities are additive. They’re not replacing (jobs) in Redmond,” he said.