Microsoft will open a new office in Vancouver this fall to develop software programs and locate new talent, the software giant announced Thursday.

Staff at the new Microsoft Canada Development Centre will be working on a variety of programming work led out of the company's headquarters in Redmond, Wash., rather than a particular project.

"For the time being, it's a centre for great talent. We're using it as a place to locate talent rather than to get a specific piece of work done," Sharif Khan, vice president of human resources of Microsoft Canada, told

The staff will consist of a few hundred programmers initially, and is expected to grow. Khan said the company would be looking for talent from the U.S., Canada and abroad, but will also transfer some existing employees.

The company chose Vancouver for several reasons, Khan said, including its location and Canada's immigration policies.

"It's such an amazing place to attract great talent to," he said. "Talk about a hub, a great place to live for people, a sort of diverse and inclusive location with great infrastructure."

The city is also close to Microsoft's corporate offices and a gateway for recent computer science graduates fromthe Asia-Pacific region.

As well, Khan said, the Canadian location allows the company to recruit skilled programmers affected by U.S. immigration policies.

"There's a restriction on the number of visas the company can get for foreign employees in the U.S.," he said. "Canada's slightly more inclusive in that respect."

The Vancouver office will be among a handful of development centres outside the Redmond headquarters. There are currently four —in North Carolina, Ireland, Denmark and Israel —and two more are planned for Boston and Bellevue, Wash.

The company hasn't signed a lease yet for the new office, but has narrowed down potential locations and is confident it will be ready for operations in September.