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High Tech Boost

Microsoft opens new windows in Reston.

Don't look now, America Online, but Microsoft just moved in around the corner.

On Sept. 19, the Northern Virginia business and technology community, still struggling since the dot-com bubble burst, welcomed industry powerhouse and AOL rival Microsoft into the state's high-tech corridor.

Gov. Mark Warner (D) was on hand Thursday with Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief technical officer, to dedicate the $25 million Microsoft Innovation and Technology Conference Center in Reston Town Center.

"Microsoft's important investment in this new center reaffirms that Northern Virginia, especially Fairfax County, is the epicenter of the IT revolution," Warner said. "Virginia's pro-business environment and proximity to the federal government were the difference in cementing our relationship with Microsoft and building this new facility."

It's the Redmond, Wash.-based giant's first office in Virginia. Currently, they have two locations in Washington, D.C.

According to Microsoft, the new site along Sunset Hills Road, parallel to the Dulles Toll Road, will allow the company to work with partners and customers on an array of technology initiatives, including secure computing and homeland defense efforts.

The company said the center will be its prime location in Washington and along the East Coast, for showcasing technology, vision and leadership. Thursday's opening also brought 100 new jobs to the region. The Dulles-corridor conference center can hold up to 1,000 people at any one time.

<b>"IT'S GREAT NEWS </b>for the county, for Reston and for the economic outlook of Northern Virginia," said Kate Hanley (D), chairman of the Board of Supervisors. "We are always glad to welcome new and established names like Microsoft into the area."

Pete Hayes, Microsoft Government's vice president, led Warner, Hanley, other state and county officials and local business leaders on a tour of the 63,000-square foot location at the new Two Discovery Square in downtown Reston. Occupying four floors, and complete with 25 conference and meeting rooms, it is adjacent to the Reston Hyatt hotel.

"Having this center in Fairfax County puts Microsoft in the middle of the Washington, D.C. IT community and will allow us to build our relationship with our business partners and with federal agencies," said Hayes.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked closely with the software company to secure a site in Northern Virginia. Gerald L. Gordon, president of the EDA said the addition of Microsoft validates the county's claim as a 'world-class' business and technology center.

"Microsoft is a world leader in so many ways and its presence in Fairfax County adds even more luster to the world-class business environment we have built," he said.