Software giant Microsoft (MSFT) says it will invest US$280 million to building a research and development center in Beijing.

Microsoft's new R&D center, which is expected to accommodate 5000 employees upon completion, is located at Beijing's Zhongguancun Square and covers a total area of 11,600 square meters. Consisting of two buildings which are connected by an air corridor, the center is estimated to be completed in 2010.

Zhang Yaqin, chairman and president of Microsoft China, says that the center will become Microsoft's largest research center outside the United States.

At present, Microsoft has four offices in Beijing.

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