Microsoft's plans to set up a massive research facility in Britain have raised fears among the UK's indigenous software community that it will cause a severe squeeze on the market for skilled developers.
Microsoft is reported to be planning a major investment in a site in Cambridge, with close ties to the University. The project, costing several millions of pounds, would establish a team of academics and developers to work on long-term research.
"(The new development) risks being a talent sink," argued Lorenzo Wood, managing director of London-based software and consultancy company KBW.
"It would worsen the current shortage of skilled staff."
Wood, who employs over 20 people, noted that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable developers in the UK. He pointed to a recent CMG survey which said difficulty in finding and retaining good staff was the second highest cause of stress among IT managers.
His views were backed by Stephen Williams, founder of Design Theme, an Internet software company based in south Wales. "Lots of developers see Microsoft as a springboard, so it attracts the people with the best skills," he said. "If I were based in that locality, I'd be concerned."
Microsoft, which chose Cambridge because of its worldwide reputation for scientific research, is now in negotiations with the University to finalise details of the deal.
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