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Microsoft Software Technology

MS Moves R&D To Canada Due To Immigration Problem 765

Posted by Zonk
from the not-enough-brainpower dept.
telso writes "Microsoft will be opening a new software development center in Vancouver because of difficulties getting workers into the US. The company said the center will 'allow the company to continue to recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by the immigration issues in the US' It seems possible that shrinking immigration quotas have affected America's tax and knowledge base."
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MS Moves R&D To Canada Due To Immigration Problem

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  • I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:43PM (#19760099)
    (And I hate that phrase.)

    There is no shortage of programmers or software engineers in the U.S.; there is a shortage of people who are interested in being paid next to nothing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bl8n8r (649187)
      Same here. I would much more expect they made a deal with the canadians to boycott the Open Document format if they agreed to build a Billmart in vancouver. Either that or it's related to lobbyists somehow.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I agree. US wages, in most kinds of jobs, are kept artificially low by the flood of immigrants.
        • Political BS (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by mollog (841386)
          I remember when a local company, Boise Cascade, was blaming environmentalists for their inability to find wood to cut. This was announced on page one of the Idaho Statesman newspaper. On page 6 was an article about them selling sections of timberland to Georgia Pacific.

          In short, it was politically motivated bullcrap. The corporate culture takes another swipe at the American working class, while they game the system.

        • by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:57PM (#19761141) Journal
          Let me see if I've got this straight:

          Your saying that Microsoft can't find employees because they don't pay enough because salaries are being held artificially low because of the flood of new employees from other countries.

          Something not quite right about that argument. Seems to me that if the programming field was being flooded with immigrants, Microsoft would not have trouble finding employees.
          • by 172pilot (913197) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @08:16PM (#19761395) Homepage
            Agreed.. Can't argue this both ways. Bottom line is that it is a financial decision. Whether the financial motive comes from tax incentives, cheaper labor, or legal protection from bogus lawsuits, the bottom line is that Microsoft has a financial duty to itself and it's shareholders to find the best "bang for the buck".
            You could potentially argue whether their policy or actions achieve this "best bang" effectively, but I dont think there's enough real facts in the story to allow us to do that, so the bottom line is that this is just a draw for Microsoft bashers with the added benefit that you could use this to argue our nations imigration policies are either to lax or strict, depending on your goals..
            Sorry.. I think it's really a non-story. Microsoft does business all over the world, and it makes sense that they'd have offices all over the world too.
            • by Anonymous Coward
              You blood profits/greed is great types always seem to conveniently forget about the other half of the people granting an incorporation charter to a company (BTW, you have no "right" to incorporate). Your company must also be of the public good. You may think it is a non story, but that shows where your sympathies lie, with the greed is great crowd.

              Not hiring the people from within the nation you are incorporated in does not increase the general public good. It may temporarily increase the profits of your li
              • by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @09:32PM (#19762201) Journal
                Not hiring the people from within the nation you are incorporated in does not increase the general public good. Let me list some public good regarding hiring of immigrants:
                • It provides a better or less expensive products for the consumer.
                • It provides a lucrative job for the immigrant.
                • It increases company profits, which does the shareholders good.
                • The increase in profits means an increase in taxes paid, a definite public good.
                Seems to do a least some good. What's more, a profitable company grows, increasing demand for more employees including non-immigrants. In other words, a job given to an immigrant does not necessary mean a job lost to a non-immigrant.

                Major rule of economics: Very few things are a zero-sum game.
                • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @09:43PM (#19762321)
                  Extending the trend to it's ultimate ...

                  You have one "american" employee leading an "american" company with 100,000 employees from every other country on earth.

                  The products which cost pennies to produce- are nonetheless priced at "full retail" in the american market while being sold for much lower prices profitably in other countries. And of course those products are either gimmicked ("indonesian only" $25 windows) or have laws making it illegal to reimport them to the US (My blood pressure pills-- 10 cents in india, $5 here-- illegal to import and sell for 50 cents).

                  The one "american" only pays taxes on realized profits and income. The rest is funny money stored in various ways. Net result to American- nothing really. Net result to the company- enormous.

                  Should I buy that companies products? Not if I can help it.
                  • Very few Americans have work , no one has any money to buy anything from this company or any other , the government gets little tax and the whole economy collapses.

                    Yes thats an extreme example but thats where this outsourcing approach ultimately leads. People are NOT just "resources" that can be picked up and dropped at will. They're all part of the feedback mechanism that keep the economy going - no job , no money. No money , no spending. No spending , no economy. Its time business started to appreciate th
                • by chthon (580889) on Friday July 06, 2007 @02:16AM (#19764131) Homepage Journal

                  For a nice story about taxes paid by American corporations, click here [itjungle.com].

          • by molarmass192 (608071) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @08:18PM (#19761433) Homepage Journal
            Microsoft is not having trouble finding "employees", it's having trouble finding "employees at the wage they want to pay".
      • by davidfromoz (801492) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @08:31PM (#19761599) Homepage Journal
        On most subjects Slashdot seems to largely adhere to the open competitive markets are efficient markets theory. Except when it comes to this subject, which is repeatedly posted as news every few weeks.

        The fact is whether you are buying a toaster, calling support or getting a job its increasingly a global economy. One way or another you are competing with people from India, China and Canada.

        Microsoft going to Canada to hire people can only be attributed to one thing. They feel they get a better deal there. And before we call them greedy or evil, we should consider that most of us do the same thing when buying a toaster, we look for the best quality at the lowest price.

        The fact that the USA is a less attractive than Canada as a place to hire foreign workers won't be a surprise to many foreign workers who have worked in the USA. The procedures for foreign workers in USA are complex, slow and characterized by hostility from immigration officials at every stage. (I left USA after my H1B visa was extended for the last time and green card procedures were too expensive, restrictive and lengthy for my taste (I would point out that my time in USA was otherwise excellent and I love the place, the people and the culture)).

        In today's world, the only sustainable way to increase your earnings is to make yourself more valuable. If you are asking Microsoft to pay you more than another similarly skilled candidate based on geography or nationality then you are just asking them to subsidize you.

        cheers,
        David
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "There is no shortage of programmers or software engineers in the U.S.; there is a shortage of people who are interested in being paid next to nothing" - by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, @06:43PM (#19760099)

      I agree, & call "B.S." alongside you... needless to say, this time? Microsoft has actually pissed me off some (& they wrote me to take the word "Windows" out of some wares I wrote years ago for the shareware/freeware circuit no less, & that meant recompiling for resources (.exe's are
    • Re:I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rovingeyes (575063) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:07PM (#19760481)
      We need a "Naive" moderation in the list. Stop being naive and accept the fact that you are never going to get paid like you did in 99. Why the fuck would any corporation think of your welfare? Whenever I see a post related to H1B or outsourcing, I see gazillion comments complaining how they are looking for cheap labor. Of course they are! Fuck, even in a socialist country (if there are any) they'd be looking for cheap labor. If you don't like it, form your own Microsoft and pay all the American citizens hefty amounts and don't hire any foreigners. Until then, go back to your dungeon and shut up.
      • Mod parent up Plz (Score:5, Insightful)

        by megaditto (982598) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:32PM (#19760795)
        Ask yourself, why are they moving to Canada and not India/China if low wages is all they are after?

        Could they be moving to Canada because:

        -it has a very similar social, economic, and political environment to the US which makes it good for business
        -Canada has 'open borders' for highly skilled and educated foreigners (yes, even Americans)
        -Canada has very strong labor laws protecting the immigrants: they have the same rights as the natives, can switch employers, won't be deported (in fact, "ratting out" a bad employer can them a permanent visa, as happened to a bunch of welders recently)
        -Canada believes in cultivating the best and the brightest, no matter where they were born

        Face it, Canada is a mini-US, but with a more reasonable immigration policy. Canada is now the fastest growing economy in the entire G8 (the only one at over 3%), the Canadian dollar, the GDP, and the worker wealth.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:37PM (#19760851)

          Canada has very strong labor laws
          Canada has very strong labour laws ...

          There, fixed that for you.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:56PM (#19761121)

          Ask yourself, why are they moving to Canada and not India/China if low wages is all they are after?

          Could they be moving to Canada because:

          -it has a very similar social, economic, and political environment to the US which makes it good for business
          -Canada has 'open borders' for highly skilled and educated foreigners (yes, even Americans)
          -Canada has very strong labor laws protecting the immigrants: they have the same rights as the natives, can switch employers, won't be deported (in fact, "ratting out" a bad employer can them a permanent visa, as happened to a bunch of welders recently)
          -Canada believes in cultivating the best and the brightest, no matter where they were born

          Or it could be because Vancouver, Canada is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Redmond, Washington; in case Ballmer should ever feel the need to throw a chair at someone in R&D.
        • by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:58PM (#19761149)
          Very informative post. I'm a Software Engineer and I realize that software can be made anywhere in the world, regardless of immigration policies. And I know I'll have to compete with Software Engineers from other countries. My preference would be to open up immigration laws here in the United States. That way more companies (or individuals!) start up software related businesses here instead of being legally barred from coming here or choosing a different country due to our retarded restrictionist policies. The protectionist crowd is not only inconsiderate of their fellow Earthlings, but naive and acting against our own best interests as well.
        • Re:Mod parent up Plz (Score:5, Interesting)

          by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday July 05, 2007 @08:01PM (#19761223) Homepage
          Correction: Canada has a more stable cost of living. You don't need to earn 150k/year to live well up here, and nationwide health-care is an oft-quoted perk of being Canadian.

          A developer earning 50-60k up here is considered middle-upper class. He can afford a house on his own, along with all the latest tech toys. Try that in Redmond... yeah right!

          Then throw in the pervasive anti-American sentiment that continues to grow all around the world, and well, we Canadians don't look so bad anymore. We're far from perfect, we still have dirty dirty politicians and high tax rates, but to many people we're seen as a much lesser evil than our southern neighbors. I'm going to get flamed for this, but you guys need to start working to clear your name. Maybe a decade ago, the USA was a land of riches, I even contemplated relocating for a development job... then Dubya showed up and changed everything around. Not since Truman has there been a worse hated US president around the world. People are afraid of the USA. We see how badly their own citizens are treated, I can't even imagine how bad it is for immigrants.
          • by patio11 (857072) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @10:01PM (#19762459)
            I suppose most of the world is observing the Biblical demand to love who you hate, then, because pervasive anti-American sentiment doesn't seem to have so much as caused a blip in the number of folks scrambling to immigrate to the US. ("US Immigration Boom Hits Record Levels", http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10440110/ [msn.com], Dec 12 2005 -- 12% of population now foreign born) I had this conversation with a Chinese researcher at my university once:

            *snip long rant about the Bush administration*
            Me: Wow, sounds like you are less than happy with the US.
            Him: I hate everything the government stands for.
            Me: Maybe you could go home to protest it? Send a letter to the Congressman and tell him thats why you're taking your PhD home with you.
            Him: Are you "#$"% nuts?

            And yes, thats what most immigrants feel like. There are occasional frustrations with living in America -- complaining about incompetent bureacrats is a well-established tradition for everybody, regardless of place of birth. (And the INS and its successor agencies are probably among the worst in the federal government.) But would large numbers of folks give up the tremendous opportunities living in America has over those frustrations? As my Chinese-accented colleague put it, are you "#$"# nuts?

            The number of citizenship applications, one easy barometer of "So, how many of you folks want to hitch the rest of your lives to the United States of America?", is up 60% in four years. That is more than double the number when Clinton left office and a Dark Shadow Fell Across The Land. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/05/news/citize n.php [iht.com]

            Also, I don't know if subtleties of domestic politics make it abroad that often, but while Dubya's Republican Party is often depicted as being anti-immigrant, and that might well be true for a large part of the party base (also true for a large portion of the Democratic base), Dubya is personally *extraordinarily* pro-immigration. He wanted comprehensive immigration reform, which would have included a mass legalization of illegal immigrants living in the US, to be his domestic legacy. It failed for a couple of reasons, including opposition from broad portions of the bases of both parties and absolutely incompetent political maneuvering. (I think that is distressingly common in the Bush administration, and I say this having voted for him twice.)

            (Disclaimer: I'm actually an expat in Japan, but I feel like waving the flag a little bit this close to the Fourth of July. America should be justifiably proud of how it treats immigrants, in the main. The system has its fair share of issues, but its nothing intractable, and its so much better than Japan its not even funny.)

            (P.P.S. On the general topic of the thread, to all Slashdotters who worry that the immigrants are forcing you into poverty: learn to compete. I got a degree in Japanese along with my IT skills, and now on either side of the Pacific for jobs which require a bilingual English/Japanese engineer I can compete quite favorably with folks making a tenth of my salary, because if they can't speak both languages than hiring ten of them still won't replace me. Languages are just one way you can make yourself something other than an interchangeable cog. Domain expertise, business skills, communication skills, a finance background, proficiency in obscure legacy technologies, jumping early onto new ships like the Ruby on Rails boomlet, etc, etc.)
          • by freeweed (309734) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @10:26PM (#19762645)
            Correction: Canada has a more stable cost of living. You don't need to earn 150k/year to live well up here, and nationwide health-care is an oft-quoted perk of being Canadian.

            A developer earning 50-60k up here is considered middle-upper class. He can afford a house on his own, along with all the latest tech toys. Try that in Redmond... yeah right!


            Except Microsoft is opening this up in Vancouver, the most expensive city in Canada to live in. Average house price: $750,000.

            50-60k is most certainly not middle-upper class in the bigger cities in Canada. Not Vancouver, not Calgary, not Edmonton, not Toronto. Maybe Regina or Winnipeg.
        • Ask yourself, why are they moving to Canada and not India/China if low wages is all they are after?

          [Several politically-correct suggestions, mostly based on the idea of non-Canadian workers in Canada, deleted.]


          As someone who has been liaison with developers in India I can suggest other possibilities:

          Canada has people who:
          - Speak English understandably and understand us when we speak it.
          - Are working in the same time zone rather than offset by a shift or more.
          - Are working whe
          • by Ozwald (83516) on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:20AM (#19763379)

            Actually, it's because Canada is Microsoft's #3 exporter of staff, behind India and Japan (link) [smh.com.au] and an L visa is obtainable after a year.

            Also, Microsoft DOES have R&D in China, India, Ireland, among other places, so opening one in Vancouver is incredibly overdue.

            Sorry, I'm just nitpicking and I agree with your post, Mr. Lightning. This message isn't for you. However everybody else who posted trash about Microsoft opening an office in Canada because it's cheaper:

            FUCK YOU

            You assholes obviously haven't spent much time in Vancouver or Toronto in the last decade or Alberta in the last year. Stop posting shit about nonsense you have no fricking clue about. Have you guys actually sent your resumes to Microsoft? Geez. Sound like the neighbor's barking dogs.

            Oz

    • by Dare nMc (468959)

      no shortage of programmers or software engineers in the U.S.; there is a shortage of people who are interested in being paid next to nothing.

      And the difference is? Of course they can always pay enough to pull the talent away from their current employers...
      Thats never been the question in my book. Their is just not a ethical (in my view of a perfect world anyway) way to keep all the capable people of learning a desirable skill like programming, especially something as relocatable. So the second best, in m

      • Re:I call BS (Score:5, Interesting)

        by HUADPE (903765) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @08:12PM (#19761351) Homepage
        I have looked into Canadian Immigration, as a foreign student there, and it can be difficult for unskilled/lower skill labourers to get in, for the people MS would want to recruit, it would not be a problem. You need 67 points on a 100 point scale. A college degree gets you about 20, a job offer 15, knowledge of English 16, being 21-35 gets you 10. That's 61, take some French classes and you're in.
    • by nbert (785663)
      So this means that those US programmers or software engineers have found positions which are more beneficial to them? If they are rare they'll get a higher wage than they "deserve" and if there are too many of them they won't get a fair share for their workforce. Is there some special reason why programmers in the US aren't paid properly? Since Canada isn't especially famous for cheap labour I start to wonder if there are some other reasons for MS's choice.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:10PM (#19760517)
      Work harder/longer/for less pay or we'll fire you and hire Canadians.

      Give us the tax/law breaks we need or we'll hire less people in Redmond and the state/US will earn less tax.

      Having some flexibility just over the fence gives MS a lot of options to get heavy handed.

    • Re:I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by markov_chain (202465) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:16PM (#19760611) Homepage
      Other than the fact that they are not looking for software engineers or programmers but researchers and really smart PhD level developers, I agree with you. Those kinds of guys are still too smart to be paid under 6 figures or even under $200k, and are probably mostly doctors and lawyers. Hence, we need to import them from countries where societies steer such people into science/technology by means other than money, such as prestige, privileges, indoctrination, etc.
    • Bullshit Mod (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by TFGeditor (737839)
      Don't you wish there was a -5 Bullshit mod for whole articles.
    • Re:I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wrook (134116) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:31PM (#19760791) Homepage
      I don't know. I've been working in Ottawa for the last 12 years. Many of my coworkers are originally from China or India. They seem to get paid similar salaries to the people originally from Canada (some more, some less). Senior Developers are getting $90K Plus, Intermediate $70-$90, Junior $55-70. Maybe it's less than in Redmond, but I don't think that's "next to nothing".

      My take on it is that it is what they say it is. Yes, there is no shortage of US programmers. But what's missing are *good* programmers willing to relocate to the Redmond area without a huge incentive. I would imagine that Vancouver is a great place to pick up new talent.

      And having a variety of ethnic backgrounds working on a product is extremely valuable. The US is not the only market MS is going after. Their software needs to reflect the cultures its moving into. I will give a relevant example.

      I once worked on a word processor that the marketing and sales team were trying to sell to the Japanese market. This word processor claimed (on the box) to support Japanese scripts. Well, one of them anyway. Katakana to be precise. Katakana is used in Japan almost exclusively for foreign loan words and signs. A word processor that only supports katakana is completely useless.

      We had a Japanese programmer on the team. He explained this to management. Some talk went back and forth about what to do. In the end, the decision was made to remove it from Japanese shelves. Seriously, before this fellow clued in Management, they thought the word processor must be massively pirated in Japan. Otherwise how come no sales?

      You want a diverse culture in your development teams. Having lived both in Canada and the US, Canada values diverse culture more. The US is the "melting pot" (your uniqueness will be added to our own). Canada has "multiculturalism" (which admittedly has its own problems). It makes sense to move some development to a place like Canada (as long as management is moving with it). There are lots of other places that would be good too. But Vancouver is quite close to Redmond.
    • Re:I call BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by metlin (258108) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:32PM (#19760801) Journal
      Umm, who is talking about regular programmers? It's about MSR - which has a lot to do with R&D than anything else.

      Now, I work in R&D and let me tell you that the majority of folks at American universities who graduate with masters or doctoral degrees are non-Americans. For whatever reason, the vast majority of Americans do not seem to particularly favor staying in school for grad school. If you do not believe me, just have a look at the graduate student list of any technical school and you will see that there is a significant number of non-Americans in there.

      I work at a baby-Bell doing R&D and in our team, we have 4 PhDs, and only one one of them is American. Two are Indian and one is South Korean. Even in grad school, the numbers are similar. In fact, most of the interns that we have tend to be non-Americans, as well.

      So is it any wonder that MS is moving part of the R&D to Canada? If you are comparing a software engineer or a programmer with the kind of people MSR employs, you have no clue about what is happening.

      And secondly, I doubt MSR would pay "next to nothing". Most people in R&D, especially in areas like EECS tend to get quite a bit, easily making six figures or more.
    • Re:I call BS (Score:5, Informative)

      by *SECADM (223955) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:50PM (#19761047)
      The summary is sensationalistic, and wrong. MS is not moving its R&D to canada, it is opening another development lab in Vancouver. And this has nothing to do with immigration visa issues, as it is trivial to get canadians to work in the US via NAFTA.

      IBM, EA, ATI, AMD (just to name a few) all have huge labs in major cities in Canada. It's completely unsurprising for MS to finally follow suit and open a lab in Canada, where tech / engineering talents are aplenty. It's a bit surprising that they didn't open it near Waterloo, where a huge percentage of MS engineers are from... But Vancouver just makes more sense because of its proximity to Redmond.

      BTW, a somewhat related article on CBC claims the Canada government is throwing money into luring back expat canadian tech workers down in the US [www.cbc.ca]:

      "Meanwhile, the province is trying to lure back Canadians working south of the border. This summer, it is launching a $2-million program promoting new job opportunities, improved taxation and a higher dollar in their home country."

      Draw your own conclusion at why MS is making this decision right after the announcement about "improved taxation" in Canada.
  • by Roadkills-R-Us (122219) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:45PM (#19760133) Homepage
    It also seems possible that MS is just trying to shrink how much they have to pay engineers...
  • LOL (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:47PM (#19760159)
    It seems possible that shrinking immigration quotas are has affected America's tax and knowledge base.

    Starting with you.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sneakernets (1026296) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:48PM (#19760183) Journal
    Outsourcing, eh?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The government knows they're keeping smart people out, (even though the doors are still open for cheap labor,) because they want to equalize the economies between the US, Mexico, and Canada.

    Economic inequality was the major stumbling block for the creation of the European Union. It's no different for the creation of the American one.
  • The new steel-worker (Score:5, Informative)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:48PM (#19760203) Homepage Journal
    The more and more I read, it looks like the software developer is the new steel worker. Sure, you need a four year education, but you as a worker are replaceable commodity. You'll be having to move to Canada, India, or the Czech Republic to get a decent paying job, or deal with substandard wages and an abusive work schedule that your unionized buddies don't have to put up with.
    • by Timothy Chu (2263)

      You'll be having to move to Canada, India, or the Czech Republic to get a decent paying job


      Depends on what you mean by "decent". If by "decent" you're talking purely about dollars and cents that amount to a salary, you're not going to get paid more (at least in India and Canada), on average, than in the US.
    • by jfroot (455025) <darmok@tanagra.ca> on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:19PM (#19760633) Homepage
      Yeah.. you really don't want to have to move to Canada. Let me tell you aboot my day today:

      During the 3 hours when the sun will shine here, I emerge from my igloo to play the government required hour of hockey. Then after I have finished I go hunting for my family's dinner with my trusty bow and arrow. Once home with my cariboo meat, I will sit back down in my igloo, crack open a Molson Canadian and watch one of the two channels we get up here, CBC and the Curling network. And this was a good day, some days it is too cold to even leave the igloo. I can't wait for global warming.

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:49PM (#19760207)
    Has no one told them the Canadian dollar is now almost at par with the United States dollar and may infact surpass it by the end of the year.
    • by mark-t (151149)
      The Canadian dollar is only almost on par with the US dollar because the US dollar doesn't buy as much as it used to internationally. This has nothing to do with how good the buying power is regionally. Our dollars may have similar buying power, but software development in the USA still pays noticeably more than it does here in Canada. Heck, QA and web development jobs here frequently only pay minimum wage.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Canada does not suffer from the weird US health system so the employers do not have to directly pay for health care.
  • FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:51PM (#19760229)
    Microsoft just *had* to throw in the comment about
    immigration. Microsoft continues to attack programmers
    in the U.S. by attempting to drive down salaries via
    the H1B scam.

    If it was truly a problem for Microsoft, they would
    not be opening new centers in Bellevue and Boston, would they?
    • Re: NOT TRUE (Score:4, Informative)

      by Brad_sk (919670) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:49PM (#19761029)
      I can see MS' point here. Things have just gotten worse for legal immigrants in last 1 or 2 years in US. Every step w.r.t visa issue will take months or years with no light at end of tunnel. For e.g., folks who are working currently can go out of status (for few weeks) since visa extension or renewal will take months. I am sure MS would use this site to keep its workers affected that way. I am a legal immigrant (H1 visa holder) and things have gotten horrible for tax paying, law abiding legal immigrants recently.
  • by njchick (611256) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:53PM (#19760267) Journal
    If Google opens its R&D center nearby and lures some programmers from MS, we'll see chairs flying over the border into Canada.
  • Well, what did we all think would happen when H1B visas became an "issue"? In today's economy, if we can't bring them here, we'll go there.
  • Going to Canada (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redkingca (610398) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @06:55PM (#19760305)
    I read this as Microsoft does not want to take the time, money or effort to get people cleared by Homeland Security. So they can get people from Indian and China to work with temporay visas in canada easier.
  • Outsourcing works (Score:2, Interesting)

    by firedragon852 (837972)
    Many years ago when I realized that American programmers were way over priced than their Chinese counterparts, I decided to move my company's development center to Beijing. Everything has paid off nicely. I get a much higher margin selling enterprise solutions to various companies. I have no problem recruiting because the supply of programmers is abundant. The reality is in order for American companies to survive and be competitive, they need to look elsewhere for capable workforce. I did and am much h
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Goldarn (922750)
      If American workers are being laid off in favor of foreign workers, I sure hope the foreign workers can afford your product.

      It's like a pyramid scheme -- it only works if only a comparatively few people do it.
  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:00PM (#19760373)
    The company said the centre will 'allow the company to continue to recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by the immigration issues in the U.S.'

    Translation: We don't want to pay American employees what they're worth, so we're going somewhere else.

    It's their right to do so, but....

    I was on a congressionally funded study of some specialized skills of which the government believed there was a shortage. We had a distinguished economist on the committee and his first comment was, "There is no shortage. Employers (the government, in this case) always perceive a shortage because they want to pay their employees less."

    There are more than enough qualified engineers in the US to work for the tech firms. They're just not willing to compete on the salaries. When Bill Gates says, "we need more visas for the best and the brightest,' he means he wants to pay less for talent.
    • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:24PM (#19760703) Homepage
      Funny how globalization only becomes bad when it affects your own class. I certainly have heard little outcry from the libertarianish techies I know that jobs making shoes, clothes, and cars have moved overseas, nor do I see them looking for "Made in USA" (or other first-world nations) before getting the cheapest product they can find on the shelves.

      If it's good enough for Flint, Michigan, it's good enough for Silicon Valley.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:04PM (#19760435) Homepage Journal
    Do it the same way you retain a CEO- pay them what they're worth. For closed source software, that means cutting royalty checks for code contributed.
    • by MobyDisk (75490)
      And how are you going to calculate how much to pay them? Lines of code? Lines of documentation? What about after 10 years and the software has been rewritten one line at a time? Do their checks decrease slowly? How can the developer prove that the royalty is correct? Does this royalty include support fees or just initial sales? This model doesn't work. Engineers who design bridges don't get a portion of the tolls. It doesn't work in other industries, and I've never heard of a developer who complain
      • And how are you going to calculate how much to pay them? Lines of code? Lines of documentation? What about after 10 years and the software has been rewritten one line at a time? Do their checks decrease slowly? How can the developer prove that the royalty is correct? Does this royalty include support fees or just initial sales? This model doesn't work. Engineers who design bridges don't get a portion of the tolls. It doesn't work in other industries, and I've never heard of a developer who complained they w
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rakishi (759894)
          Only an idiot thinks lines of code means anything and only an idiot would think the result would be anything but a disaster for the quality of code. Fuck, have you ever coded anything in your life that was of any importance?

          So would my paycheck decrease if I added a negative number of codes because I re-factored things? I think it was at apple that someone did just that, they had a form for how many lines were added and one day he put down a negative number which apparently caused the whole method to be aba
  • Could also be (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ameline (771895) <ian.ameline@gmailMOSCOW.com minus city> on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:11PM (#19760527) Homepage Journal
    It could also be that they want to attract skilled Canadian programmers who are not interested in becoming Americans.

  • I don't see how this move will help Microsoft to recruit and retain quality programmers. There are plenty of quality programmers in the U.S. Look at the great code linux programmers produce on a daily basis. They're obviously not paying enough to recruit these programmers. I say, spend some of those cash reserves [nwsource.com] to buy better programmers. Otherwise, the quality of their software will continue to decline.
  • This smacks of blaming the chickens for being raided by the fox. What H1-B visas and other means of not hiring American citizens has done is essentially subsidize corporate training costs by doing away with the need to train entry level American workers. By using H1-B visas and other means to avoid having to hire and train entry-level citizens, corporations find themselves in a position of having trouble finding technical expertise willing to work for minimum wage because no one could get that expertise wit
  • by puppetman (131489) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:13PM (#19760577) Homepage
    they are just opening another Research/Software Development center.

    "Other centres exist in North Carolina, Ireland, Denmark and Israel, while full research-and-development locations exist in the U.K., India, China and California's Silicon Valley."

    It's really not that big a deal. Microsoft probably can't hire enough people in the US, and opening development centers in other countries make sense. Not that great a story....
  • Is there a cause-and-effect relationship between (a) microsoft's unrelenting push to hire inexpensive offshore/H1B coders over the last several years and (b) the missed schedules, dropped features, and lack of market acceptance of vista?
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:23PM (#19760685)
    Wait... Microsoft is forcing Apple to move to Canada? How does that work?

  • by Sawopox (18730) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @07:24PM (#19760695) Homepage Journal
    is in order. First of all, this [furnacefishmedia.com] gives hope that even as a geek, I'll have a chance.

    Secondly, there's no shortage of excellent marijuana in Vancouver. After hours and hours of working for Microsoft, nothing will make you feel better than a few bong hits of BC bud. I think being really high makes Vista worth having. It's slow, you're slow. The nifty visuals are "trippy" and while it's paging out to disk, you can munch.

  • Assuming this is about Indian oursourcing through Canada (which is exactly what is happening in my industry, aerospace), there is opportunity here. Hook up with someone you know in Canada, get them to hire and the workers, and you provide the American interface to your American customers. Provide contract services.

    It's called the global delivery model. OK, you wouldn't be a coder anymore, you'd be an agent, but at least you would get to wear a Rolex.
  • by XanthosDeia (1124311) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @08:25PM (#19761529)
    So, I'm a young American employee at MS. Hired right out of college a year ago, with a much higher salary than I would have gotten from any other company that would have hired me.

    Now, having said that, I work on a team that's only about 20-30% US-born citizens. The rest are a mix of Russian, Romanian, Chinese, Indian, and Mexican. But they're not your stereotypical wage slaves hired to save costs. They're bright, intelligent contributors. And my girlfriend, an Australian citizen in a different group, gets paid as much as I do and got even more out of her relocation benefits (apparently shipping across the Pacific isn't cheap).

    So, why then does MS hire foreigners. Because (arguably, at least) MS isn't interested in the top 4X% of American developers, they're interested in the top X% of all developers. Since that subset isn't entirely American, they're very interested in immigration issues. Not to drive down wages, but to drive up hiree quality.

    You can argue all the live-long day that Americans are the best in the industry (correct or not), but you can't reasonably state that *all* American developers are better than *all* non-American developers.
    • by LingNoi (1066278) on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:32AM (#19763461)
      Absolutely correct.

      Also don't forgot that first world citizens from countries such as England, Germany and Japan need visas too. A lot of Americans on this forum are dumbing this issue down into a "slave labour" issue but I call BS on that.

      There are many extremely bright people across the world and not letting them into America to train Americans just makes your country even dumber.

      Good luck with that.
  • by leabre (304234) on Thursday July 05, 2007 @08:30PM (#19761589)
    Its amazon to read all these comments about how corporate america is selling us out and how its about finding the cheapest labor, yada yada yada. While I won't attempt to deny any of that, I would like to offer my perspective.

    Where I work, I am often tasked with interviewing senior level software developers and team lead candidates. Occasionally, an architect level position, also, but that is rare as our company has not a software architect, per se.

    Over the last 6 months I have interviewed approximately 15 candidates, and I was probly seeing about 1 candidate for about ever 150 resumes submitted. Some of these people had 5 years experience, some had as much as 18 years. We're a .NET shop. Their resumes stated that a comfortable with C#, windows services, windows sockkets, remoting, message queuing, WMI, and other various components of a typical mid-to-high end enterprise system. When asking basic questions they often can't even answer the thoeretical. When asked to write code, they can't remember what to do. When looking at code and asked to either improve it or troubleshoot it, they don't know what to do.

    I'm willing to grant that they are nervous, may not know everything, whatever. But overwhelmingingly, the fact is, these people say that can do x and y and in reality, after the stated 15 years experience, can even demonstrate the minimum competency required for the position. We are not rediculous expectations by any standard. But if you've been doing remoting for 7 years in .NET, then we expect you to get the very most rudimentery service and client up and running. If you have 20 years writing TCP/IP software and 5 of it in C#, then we expect a very simple socket application. If you say on your resume that you have 6 years experience writing asynchronous things in C#, then write a few lines of code demonstrating it. But alas, these people can't.

    The typical response is: I just google it. That's fine, but someone who never wrote a line of code before can Google it, too. We need to know you can actually perform well in the duties you'll be assigned. Some people get up and walk out of the interviews stating they are too difficult. We finally hired a couple of these guys and they performed very lousy.

    The bottom line is that, it is indeed difficult to find someone qualified for certain tasks. If we hire for a bit of a lower-level position such as typical ASP.NET stuff and maybe some middle-tier business rules tasks, its a bit easir to find people but it is still difficult to find someone that when hired, can perform very well until about 6 months into the task after which, they leave and go to another company making more money and more responsibilities (and we pay relative to the 50th-70th percentile of the local norm) and have a disreable culture.

    In any case, just incase it was because I was doing the interviewing and they were nervous... I have recently interviewed for a software architect level position for a fortune 100 company requiring the ability to chug roughly 400 million transactions daily with an extreme degree of reliability, and I did fine in the interviews. I was able to answer and demonstrate all but 2 of the questions or tasks asked of me and received a job offer. I have only 10 years experience and no college degree (yet). I don't know whether I'm special, but I think my observation remains: finding someone qualified is difficult enough, but getting the company to offer what they are worth (rather, what they think they are worth) is even more difficult. Most places I've worked hasn't a problem rewarding people that prove themselves or that dazzle during interviews. But if you just barely get by in interview or just get hired because they are taking a chance while not sure of you, and ask for $100k, you're probly not going to get it.

    On that note, I've hired people before that I wasn't too sure of but they showed potential, they wanted a rediculous amount of money and we offered what we thought t
    • by just fiddling around (636818) on Friday July 06, 2007 @10:12AM (#19766909) Journal
      The problem is: you are trying to get 5, 10 or 15 years experience with 50-70% of the local normal salary. [sarcasm] I can't fathom why you only get liars and incompetents! [/sarcasm]

      When you want top talent and/or qualifications, YOU PAY. Else, you get what you pay for.

      I know what I am talking about, I am stuck at hiring people with 20%-under-norm salary and temporary status... and half of the people we get suck. But sometimes, we get good candidates... and all we have to retain them is warm, fuzzy "you're in the family" feelings. We are so notorious for our stingy paycheques that a candidate in the last recruiting round asked about the salary when we called him for the interview, and declined the invitation when we said the amount.
  • Absolutely right. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2007 @10:36PM (#19762723)
    Man, some of the people here are so deliberately misinformed it's clear they've never been involved in a large software dev company. Their injured sense of entitlement seems to be overflowing into any good sense they might normally exercise.

    I'm a senior engineer for a large, very well known software company (not MS). One of my duties is interviewing engineers. Lots of engineers. I see five or six candidates a week, in addition to phone interviews. Once we've found somebody -- anybody -- who meets our hiring requirements, we'll do whatever it takes to get them here. Living across the country? We'll relocate your household and find your spouse a job. Living in Canada? We'll get you a visa. Compensation is same in both cases, and due to the costs of acquiring the visa, H1-B workers actually cost the company a lot more. As a result, we prefer Americans, but as I said, we'll take anyone we can get.

    We've got development centers in the UK, Africa, India, China, and several places in the US. These all cost us far more per person -- in facilities costs, training, legal costs -- than the US dev centers. We do this to try to attract people who don't want to relocate.

    Those of you who think Microsoft is just trying to avoid paying you the billions you so obviously think you're worth, should go apply to the Redmond campus. If you're as good as you think you are, they'll fly you in for interviews. And if you pass those, then they'll talk about compensation. At that point, you can't really lose the offer, barring stupidity. The poster who said they'd use a difference in expected salary to disqualify a candidate in order to get an immigrant worker instead is, to give them the benefit of the doubt, blatantly mistaken.

    Look, just do me a favor: If you think you're hot shit and want a six-figure job, make yourself a list of the top ten tech companies in the US. Then go to each of their job sites and submit your resume. My recruiters are waiting. Unless, like most of the posters here, you think that's "slaving away for minimum wage."
  • by GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) on Friday July 06, 2007 @12:02AM (#19763261)
    I have no doubt at all the reason for MS coming to Canada. US customs block every temporary work visa they can, with no regard for how the american companies with their american employees will be hurt.

    It must be an utter nightmare for MS to bring in the smartest developers available around the world, enriching the intellectual capacity of the USA, helping an American company grow wealth for their American shareholders.

    In an unrelated field, my wife, who is a Canadian with two science related bachelor's degrees and a professional registration has been blocked twice from entering the USA on temporary work visas by ignorant american customs officers.

    And she was going to perform work needed by American companies that were not able to find qualified American professionals. High end specialized scientific work ... we aren't talking landscaping and fruit picking, which you Americans insist on passing off to foreign workers when you could do it yourself.

    The first time, the company she was going to consult for made a small mistake on their reference letter. She had to wait for several hours ... and be right there at the fax machine in the customs office at the moment an updated letter arrived from the client. If she was in the bathroom when it arrived, too bad, she would have been denied. What a stupid system! She eventually got in, after missing a connecting flight, and the USA company that needed her services, was able to carry on with their business of making money for their American shareholders.

    The second instance ... The USA company that needed her services just happened to be owned by a Canadian parent company. The dumbass customs officer would not investigate the facts, he could not comprehend the idea that the USA company was a real, USA registered company, with real assets, with real USA employees. He decided the USA company was an empty shell, and that it must really be the Canadian parent company that called her to work in the USA. The officer threatened to declare my wife's actions as being a fraud, which would have banned her for life from working in the USA. He refused entry to my wife.

    This fuckwad didn't have even the most basic understanding of the situation ... he didn't even understand that for any fraud to have been commited by my wife there would have to have been a criminal intent to deceive. At most there was a misunderstanding created by the American employees of the American company. Not fraud.

    Her client nearly lost her services, which would have delayed their project, which would have meant laying off American citizens from their jobs, and would have delayed or pre-empted millions of dollars of economic activity in a remote area of the USA where the jobs are desparately needed.

    But many hours later, after missing her connecting flight, she did get through ... did the asshat customs officer do a proper investigation and let her proceed? ... NO. He was off shift. A different officer gave her the work visa and let her enter the USA without any hesitation, without reviewing the incident with the first custom's officer, or even asking her anything that might have resolved the confusion. He probably wasn't even aware that there had been any incident. ... so we went from a brainless shit who was going to block my wife and put a group of American citizens out of their jobs, to a brainless shit who let her pass with no questions asked, who didn't even try to resolve the first shit's concerns. Now that's just awesome security! Tell me, Do you feel safe?

    There was another incident ... my wife's boss was flying to south america for work, with some simple scientific field gear with her. She had a brief stop over in the USA where she never left the secured area of the airport, she just needed to go through customs (even though she was in limbo, not actually departing for a US destination), and then onw
    • Not trying to point out the obvious, but customs people everywhere can suck.
      I have been hosed getting into Canada from the US before.
      One instance you stated there was a mistake on her forms. They still let her in, after oh no, SHE had to get proof and a CORRECT copy?
      Oh my, those horrible bastards wanting her to have legal forms filled out correctly.

      As for my last screw up to getting into Canada?
      I showed up for planning meetings to decide whether or not and if we were, how to implement a shop floor system f
  • by joeflies (529536) on Friday July 06, 2007 @01:38AM (#19763927)
    It appears to me that Microsoft isn't "moving" R&D to Canada. The article says they are building a new center in Canada, but I don't see any mention of closing a US campus, which usually is part of a "move". So please, as much as I don't care for Microsoft either, let's be precise about the language used in the article summary.

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