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Southeast European Times: Microsoft opens development centre in Belgrade

Published date: 26.10.2005 14:14 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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The new global development centre opened by Microsoft in Belgrade last month is being seen as a signal of the technology giant's confidence in the country's economic prospects. Serbia-Montenegro now becomes one of only five countries to host one of Microsoft's development centres, joining the United States, Ireland, India and China.

The centre's focus will be on development of technology for tablet PCs -- devices that can be operated by writing on touchscreens with a digital pen. According to Dejan Cvetkovic, the head of Microsoft's Serbian operations, ten experts will initially be hired. They will be led by Bodin Dresevic, a longtime Microsoft employee who has been instrumental in persuading the firm to invest in Serbia.

In time, Cvetkovic said, the centre will help stem Serbian "brain drain" by helping to foster more opportunity at home for educated young people.

According to Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, the opening of the Development Centre demonstrates that the business climate in the country has improved, that no obstacles block the transfer of capital, and that companies keen to invest in export-bound production are starting to look towards Serbia. "Microsoft's investment is a step forward, proving that Serbia is not technologically backward," Labus said.

US Ambassador to Belgrade Michael Polt said that the centre proves that international investors have faith in Serbia. "You have managed to convince a company like Microsoft to make a direct investment in Serbia. This demonstrates the international investing world's trust and should spur work on removing possible obstacles that might slow down similar projects," Polt said.

Microsoft Director for Eastern Europe Christopher Brennan, in talks with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, said that the opening of the centre put Serbia "at the heart of the global technology map," adding that other companies should follow Microsoft's example.

According to Microsoft data, the company invested around $20m in Serbia as of September 2004. Projections suggest that the figure will double in the coming months.

Just three days after the centre's launch, the company also signed a deal with Montenegrin authorities. It envisions legalisation of all Microsoft software used in Montenegrin state bodies -- a process that will cost Montenegro some 1.95m euros and will be paid in three monthly installments.

"With this document we are creating conditions for the full legalisation of co-operation and further development and I truly believe that Montenegro will significantly benefit from co-operation with this strategic partner," said Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.