Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said Wednesday the software giant plans to invest US$1.7 billion (Ђ1.45 billion) in India and nearly double its work force in the country over next four years. Microsoft Corp. has long viewed India, a country of 1 billion people with a robust economy, as a potentially huge market, and the investment would be one of the single largest by an information technology company. Much of the money would go to improving the software giant's research and development capabilities, Gates said during his fourth trip to India. "This amount is to be deployed across select focus areas over the next four years in line with Microsoft's strategic vision for India," he said.
Indian Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran said the planned investment was "an indicator of the value that Microsoft attaches to its development and R&D activities in the country." Industry officials had expected Gates to make a major announcement during his fourth trip to India, and the Microsoft chairman hinted earlier Wednesday at bigger things to come when he said the company would add 3,000 jobs in India over the next three to four years. "We have 4,000 professionals in India today, we will increase it to 7,000 over the next three to four years," Gates told a forum of Indian business leaders.
Earlier this year, the company opened a research center in the southern city of Hyderabad, the fourth such Microsoft facility worldwide. Next month, the company plans to open an innovation center in Bangalore, India's technology hub, that will be part of a global network promoting education, entrepreneurial development and innovations by small businesses, reports the AP. I.L.