British Columbia

Microsoft adds 300 jobs at Vancouver-area development centre

Microsoft Corp. bumped up the size of its fledgling development centre in a Vancouver suburb Wednesday, adding 300 jobs and more clout to the region's growing technology sector.

Microsoft Corp. bumped up the size of its fledgling development centre in a Vancouver suburb Wednesday, adding 300 jobs and more clout to the region's growing technology sector.

The centre in Richmond, B.C., will have software developers working on more than half of Microsoft's products, including the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office productivity software, the Zune Media Player, Windows Mobile and the Xbox 360 gaming console.

Microsoft Canada president Phil Sorgen said the centre will contribute to Microsoft's global competitiveness, while providing economic benefits to both British Columbia and Canada.

"The real contribution is the innovation they are creating," said Sorgen.

He said the company chose Vancouver in part because of its quality of life and multiculturalism.

Among world's most livable cities

"We are recruiting, as many companies are, for the best talent in the world and Vancouver has consistently been rated as one of the five top most livable cities," Sorgen said.

"When we have talked to our recruiters, one of the things they told us is ... this would be another asset to us, to have a centre in Vancouver we can recruit talent to."

Sorgen said the high Canadian dollar was not considered an issue because the centre is a long-term investment for the company, and the currency fluctuates.

Engineers working at the centre represent 45 countries and speak 15 distinct languages, Microsoft said.

The centre opened in July 2007 with 21 employees and Sorgen it's likely the centre will continue to expand.

Kevin Restivo, a technology analyst with consulting firm IDC, said the new centre is a way for Microsoft to attract talent in the competitive software development sector.

Even though the Vancouver area is one of the most expensive places to do business in Canada, companies such as Microsoft see it as an asset in  employee relations.

"It is also very expensive to attract and retain talent and the issue has become more of a priority for organizations," said Restivo.

"I can see why Microsoft would spend the kind of money they need to make it work."

EA kept jobs in Vancouver

Restivo said many technology firms have thrived in Vancouver, including video game maker Electronic Arts, which was started in the city and retained thousands of jobs there despite moving its headquarters to Redwood City, Calif.

"[Vancouver] has always been a city that software companies have seen as a place to locate," Restivo said. "It's known as an attractive area to house strategic resources."

Engineering expertise has also been spun off from such firms as Vancouver-based MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates (TSX:MDA), which was one of the few high-tech firms in the region when it started in the 1960s.

The new Microsoft centre is in two buildings totalling more than 73,000 square feet in the business park known as Crestwood Corporate Centre. The company has similar centres in Boston and Bellevue, Wash.

Microsoft also has development centres in North Carolina, Ireland, Denmark and Israel, as well as full research and development centres in the United Kingdom, India, China and Silicon Valley in California.

Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, Wash., near Seattle. Microsoft Canada has its headquarters in Mississauga, Ont.

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