Microsoft to open R&D center in TA [pg 17]

Microsoft will build a new research and development center in Tel Aviv and has appointed Moshe Lichtman as its new president for R&D in Israel to oversee the establishment of the center, the world's largest software company said Wednesday. "R&D projects at our centers in Israel are gaining greater importance in our global development strategy," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive officer. "With his experience in product development and management, we believe that Moshe Lichtman is ideally suited to advancing our R&D in Israel and joint operations with the hi-tech and risk capital markets there." Israeli born Lichtman currently serves as vice president at the company and is responsible for the Microsoft TV division, from which the company develops and markets its cable and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) product line. He has been with the company for 15 years. Details about the new center, such as when it will be opened, at what investment and how many people it will employ have not yet been decided on, according to a company spokesman. "All we have is a decision to build it and Lichtman's appointment," he said. Microsoft, which started its Israel operation in 1989 with three employees, established its first R&D facility in Haifa two years later. Together with its 50 percent ownership of MSN Israel, it employs some 400 people locally.