Microsoft Corp's Indian research and development centre has filed more than 100 patents in the past two years alone, showing a maturing of world-class product development from the country, the company's corporate vice-president who runs a key unit that addresses developers worldwide said on Tuesday.
"It is about 110 in the last 24 months," Indian-born Sivaramakrishnan Somasegar, based in Seattle but also responsible for Microsoft’s India Development Center (IDC), told Hindustan Times.
Somasegar is one of Microsoft’s hottest talents, and was until 2003 in–charge of the core engineering functions of the ubiquitous Windows platform that runs on most of the world’s desktop computers, making the software work with independent hardware and application developers.
He now heads a 2,500-people-strong Microsoft team that works with a worldwide community of developers who use its tools and platforms to make end-use applications. A majority of the world’s eight million estimated developers use Microsoft tools, Somasegar said.
He said about 130 patents have been filed so far by the Hyderabad centre set up in 1998. "Services are probably playing a big role in the Indian software industry right now, but I clearly see more of R&D in the future," said Somasegar. "In the next five years, I see more innovation and R&D coming out of here."
"A good chunk" of Microsoft’s Windows Vista platform, which is due for commercial release anytime, was developed in Hyderabad, which has also contributed to various product groups within the company, Somasegar said.
Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Adobe and Google are among the world's software leaders which are engaged in advanced R&D and product development of India, and have helped change its image as a low-cost destination. Somasegar said the IDC now had 1,200 engineers that do advanced work, up from 500 two years ago.
The developer division that Somasegar runs is critical for Microsoft because it functions like a wholesale unit that offers key tools and platforms which independent companies like Adobe and SAP use to make end-use software like those used to develop Websites, make newspaper pages or run business processes like inventory management.
Somasegar, who grew up in Pondicherry, studied at Chennai’s Guindy Engineering College before heading to the US for higher education. He joined Microsoft as a software engineer in 1989. The Anna University, to which his college is affiliated, conferred an honorary doctorate on Somasegar this week.
Somasegar said he was helped by Bill Gates' shift from his previous role as chief executive officer to chief software architect. "It is good news. We get to spend more time with him," he said.