Microsoft Plans to Boost China Employee Numbers by 22%

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s biggest software maker, plans to increase its number of workers in China by 22 percent in the next year to support the release of new products such as Windows 8.

The company will add 1,000 employees in China, where it now has 4,500 workers, Ralph Haupter, Microsoft’s chief executive officer for the greater China region, said at a press conference in Beijing today. It was his first meeting with media since he was named to the post in April.

“If you look at the industry and market dynamics, there’s no doubt that the opportunity in China is kind of incredible,” Haupter said. “The pure volume dynamic and scale is incredible here in China.” The new workers will fill positions in sales, marketing, services and research.

Research funding in China will increase 15 percent from $500 million previously, Zhang Yaqin, Microsoft vice president and chairman of Asia-Pacific research, said at the briefing.

China, the world’s largest market for personal computers and mobile phones, is crucial to Microsoft as it prepares to release Windows 8 next month. The update of the Redmond, Washington-based company’s flagship software will run on PCs and tablets, including its own machine, Surface. It’s designed to combat Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s lead in the tablet market and boost sales of the Surface device when it goes on sale later this year.

During a visit to Beijing in May, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said intellectual property protection in China is “still weak,” making it difficult to sell legitimate software in the country.

The country’s illegal software market was worth almost $9 billion last year, compared with a legal market of less than $3 billion, according to the annual report of the Business Software Alliance, released in May.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Edmond Lococo in Beijing at elococo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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