Microsoft announced plans today to open a new research and development center in Ireland that it said would design parts of the next edition of its Windows operating system...

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DUBLIN, Ireland — Microsoft announced plans today to open a new research and development center in Ireland that it said would design parts of the next edition of its Windows operating system, codenamed “Longhorn.”


The announcement came during 20th anniversary celebrations of Microsoft’s 1985 arrival in Dublin. The software giant employs 1,200 people in suburban south Dublin and has made Ireland — the world’s biggest exporter of software, thanks to Microsoft’s presence — one of its main European bases for customer support, production and research.

Jean-Philippe Courtois, chief executive of Microsoft in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the expansion in Ireland “reflects our long and valued relationship in this country and our ongoing commitment to Europe.”

Besides working on components of “Longhorn,” the center’s researchers are expected to develop applications for Windows Media Center and make Microsoft software more adaptable for use in different languages and countries.

Microsoft didn’t specify how much the new Dublin center would cost, but said it was included within its $6.1 billion R&D budget for this fiscal year.

Microsoft’s other R&D centers in Europe are in Aachen, Germany; Cambridge, England; and Vedbaek, Denmark.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the new facility was expected to employ about 100 people recruited from throughout the 25-nation European Union.

Ireland — long a land of double-digit unemployment and chronic emigration — has enjoyed a decade-long economic boom, nicknamed the Celtic Tiger, that has slashed unemployment to 4.3 percent and made the country a target for immigrant workers for the first time.

“Advances in science and technology have underpinned our economic progress to date,” Ahern said. “We recognize, however, that our future economic development depends to a large degree on our ability to generate new knowledge and to innovate.”

Ahern said Microsoft exported more than $10 billion worth of software annually from Ireland, and last year contributed $470 million to the local economy in salaries and purchases. This was “nothing short of remarkable,” he said.

The announcement of the new Microsoft center came about six weeks after another Dublin technology R&D center closed. Media Lab Europe, which was jointly owned by the Irish government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, closed on Feb. 1 after the government and MIT couldn’t agree on who should pay the mounting bill for its survival. About 50 people, mostly young European researchers, lost their jobs.